Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Of biblical proportions

John Mangun
Outside the Box
Business Mirror

OUR thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered the greatest damage and tragedies during this past weekend’s flooding. Flood, like fire, destroys everything in its path without regard to social position or wealth; a great equalizer.

While literally hundreds of thousands remained in shelters throughout the region, the “experts” headed to the press and the media to echo the junk science mantra of global warming and climate change. Not only is the idea of man-made climate change false by any measure of scientific legitimacy, it also insures that in a generation or so, residents of Metro Manila will endure another disaster exactly the same as in these past days.

I wrote on this page a couple of months ago that instead of wasting money on nonsense climate-change initiatives, maybe the money would be better spent on upgrading the flood-control system of Metro Manila. But, of course, a public-works project that might really benefit the populace would gain the headlines as being portrayed as a political leader who will save the environment.

One local pundit rushed to the keyboard with a few hundred words about the disastrous effect of humans releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and the subsequent global warming all that CO2 generates. Since you and every living animal, fungi and microorganism that depends either directly or indirectly on plants for food expel CO2 with every breath, obviously we are all doomed.

There is something deadly (literally) and immoral about attributing the damage of this latest storm to climate change or whatever you wish to call it. It gives approval to do nothing, because the underlying premise of all this nonsense is that nothing can be done. Why should public funds be spent on flood-control measures when it is inevitable that the waters of South China Sea will soon cover Metro Manila?

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando explained that the pumping stations that could have alleviated some of the worst floods were simply overcome by the volume of rain and water. But for far too many, it makes more sense to spend a few million pesos attending climate-change symposiums around the world than simply buying a few more pumps.

The home-made videos of the disaster that quickly flooded the Internet were amazing and clearly showed that Mother Nature is always a force that cannot be underestimated. The rushing water of the Marikina River whipping past Riverbanks was astounding. The waters neatly cleaned the riverbank of shanties and even more substantial structures.

But the thing that cannot be ignored is that those structures were not only illegally constructed but were disaster-prone from the very beginning. Houses along canals all over Metro Manila perched on top and beside the estero had no business being there and were simply washed away and cleaned out by the flood.

The anger that many of these residents felt about the inability of the government to protect and rescue them sort of ignores the fact that they should not have been there in the first place, and that the true failure of the government over the last three decades was not in providing an opportunity for a better place to live for them.

Now, the government, both national and local, is forced to address this problem. The only alternative is to allow these people to rebuild in these unsafe areas and figure out how to rescue them the next time the floods come.

The countless stories of personal tragedies are matched with the equally countless stories of heroism and self-sacrifice, and that is the way it always is. Helen Keller, the deaf/blind American author, once wrote, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” Once again, millions of Metro Manila residents are proving those words to be true.

As the population and the development of the region continue, the government must get serious about the flooding problem and of unsafe and improper housing. It is not an insurmountable problem. It is simply a problem that has been ignored for a very long time.

Further, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is going to have to become serious about the effect of major construction like malls and residential projects on the flooding problem. Their environmental-impact studies are very good and are usually ignored. There is plenty of evidence, even at this point, that certain areas suffered greater flooding because the environmental impact of certain major projects were dismissed or ignored. This cannot continue to occur.

What we saw and experienced this past weekend affected everyone without exception. Each of us suffered personally, and almost all suffered economically from this natural occurrence that became a man-made disaster. Perhaps this will be a wake-up call that when you fail to address problems, eventually those problems come knocking, literally, on your own front door.

And as we continue the cleanup, my Sanyo washing machine is now my Sanyo beer cooler, since it will never wash clothes again. We were lucky.

PSE stock-market information and technical-analysis tools were provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc. E-mail comments to mangun@email.com.

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