The new normal

Climate change is definitely upon us.  Its effect on our lives will be increasingly felt as the years pass by.

Nona packed winds of 145 kph, but look at the amount of rainfall it brought.  Not only were the directly hit provinces of Northern Samar and Mindoro Oriental devastated by its wind, the rains it brought flooded all of Central Luzon.

In its wake, we have not only lives lost and houses destroyed; we have crop yields inundated, creating misery for our farmers, and impacting in food scarcity and high prices in months to come.

Mindoro Oriental produces most of the kalamansi that Tagalog cuisine cannot live without.  It also produces most of the saba bananas and other fruits that supply our Metro Manila markets. Watch the prices of these spike.  Mindoro Occidental was spared from Nona because it is protected by the mountain range that divide the two provinces.  It is one of the biggest palay-producing provinces in the country.

The palay farmers of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga are still reeling from the effects of Lando.  Many planted onions, melons and other short-gestating cash crops to make up for the losses of their storm-damaged palay.  Even those were not spared by the heavy flooding that occurred last week.

Onyok brought some relief from the El Niño-parched lands of Caraga and Davao.  But not for long.  El Niño will be back with a vengeance in the next few weeks.

In Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island-province which should be filled with winter skiers by now, is getting so little of it.  In previous years, Niseko and other ski havens should have six meters of snowfall by now.  Last week, less than a meter of snow fell from the heavens.

In the Swiss Alps, unusually warm temperatures have created a long, long autumn.  In New York and the US East Coast, they are still waiting for the first snowfall, days before Christmas.  Last week, it was 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Manhattan (that’s Baguio weather), when it should be in the near zeroes by now.  Will they experience their cherished “White Christmas”?

In Sydney, where summer and sunlight should be in full bloom, it’s still spring weather, rainy, damp and unseasonably cold.

But never mind those rich countries. Climate patterns may be queer, may even bring some inconvenience. In the Philippines, climate change can be, and has been deadly.  It will be deadlier in years to come.

How should we adjust to the new normal? It will impact on our seminal lives, and the availability of food in a country which can hardly feed the poor out of its 104 million people.

* * *

Among the national candidates, only two senatorial candidates are discussing the issue of climate change and its impact on our lives.  They are Martin Romualdez and Francis Tolentino.

In both their press statements and advertorials, they inform the people of the effect of climate change in our lives.  And how we should be prepared for every disaster that comes along.

Martin proposed to Congress that we create a Department for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management right after Yolanda occurred and the response of government through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and its coordinative agencies showed how ill-prepared government was.  It’s been two years and several typhoons and other disasters after Yolanda, but Martin’s bill still languishes in Congress. Neither has Malacañang certified the bill for urgent legislative action.

Martin now proposes a flood-control summit, in the wake of Lando, and Nona, and as of this writing, perhaps Onyok.  Will we ever wake up to the new normal?

Francis Tolentino moves around the country talking about the need for disaster preparedness. He even got Metro Manila to have a practice drill should an earthquake, a truly “big one,” hit us.  That was before the sanctimonious hypocrites in his erstwhile political party ostracized him.  He didn’t quibble with them; he just left their company, and now runs as an independent.  Digong Duterte, who knows the intrinsic dedication of Francis to the people he served, endorsed his senatorial run, as he did Martin’s.  

Tolentino is not carried by the administration he served with loyalty and commitment.  Martin Romualdez’s laudable advocacy for disaster preparedness was enumerated in Grace Poe’s “20-point platform” enumeration, but he was not included in her senatorial line-up, jettisoned for some panderers.

These are two senatorial candidates I would vote for.  Bago naman.  

Through the years, we have been electing the same tired and tiring faces, as if there are no “new” names worthy of gracing the Senate hall.  They get two terms, hibernate for three years, and then get reelected once more on sheer name recall.  To be certain, some of them truly deserve being in the Senate.  But others are either paragons of uselessness or just there for the pork barrel.

Take a second look at the new candidates, beyond mere name recall. Bago naman.

Topics: Lito Banayo , The new normal , climate change , Martin Romualdez , Francis Tolentino
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