The following statement is from our 350 friends in the Philippines in the wake of Tropical Storm Washi, the deadliest storm of 2011…

We are mourning.

The devastation our country has suffered is incomparable – one that we measured in terms of loss of properties, and an entire generation being totally wiped out.

The toll of the typhoon is unprecedented and affirms that climate change coupled with unsustainable resource utilization is more than dangerous, it is catastrophic.

As of today, the cities affected by the tragedy runs out of body bags, and instead of information and crisis centers you’ll need to go to dumpsites to look for your love ones. For the living surviving is equally daunting, dealing with the the gravity of the loss, drinking water is seldom, sickness preying on them, they looked familiar as they have been wearing the same clothes since the tragedy struck, and like sardines have cramped in evacuation centers.

Sendong also known as Climate Change is telling us not to rely on historical data, as the warming world have opened new vulnerabilities. Our human footprint for November is now 390.31 parts per million. This footprint, as determinant how dismal we have been treating our environment, is going up. This footprint is the reason why nature is going back at us with a vengeance – extreme weathers, flooding, and rising sea levels among others. Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide is the cause  why the climate is changing and we need to bring it down to the safe upper limit of 350 parts per million.

Our bountiful lands have become vast plantations, uprooting old growth in favor of pineapples. Our lands have become barren after the onslaught of logging and mining to benefit the few, to return the favor, we are given with more disasters after disasters.
Our Country’s been hopping from one tragedy to another, and this cycle should stop once and for all. Let us proceed with development that is sustainable by coming up with a national land use plan under the framework of green economy that is socially inclusive, resource efficient, and low carbon.

It might take a long time for us to rebuild ourselves and the community, but we will rise up like phoenix, and in the middle of the grave loss we will see opportunities to rid our society of business-as-usual practices.

The Filipinos should demand from each LGU a concrete adaptation and mitigation plan, monitoring and forecasting equipment should be purchased, and people’s vulnerability should be reduced through scientific education, more capacity building mechanisms, socio-political, and economic re-engineering.  It is not true that typhoons are great equalizers, because our response is differentiated by our class condition, some are more vulnerable than others.

If we can’t abate our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, carbon intensive development, and unsustainable development practices, we might as well be responsible enough to create a national evacuation program under the bigger picture of climate adaptation, where we will identify areas for population relocation.

Immediately, we urged Local Governments in our island to strictly enforce the need to clear dangerous and vulnerable zones from populations, and develop support infrastructures to make us resilient. We cannot just deal with typhoons with rising statistics: 976 dead, 55,000 families dislocated, or otherwise 300,000 people injured. We need to deal with climate change with political will, and this political will needs the enforcement of our people, the Filipinos should take the power back to climate proof our future. We need to prevent similar catastrophes to happen anywhere else in the country and the world.

In the international arena, international climate negotiators have been playing with binding agreements to ensure their profiteering from our miseries, in the local scenario we are paying with our lives. This is our cue to bring grass roots climate actions at the forefront regardless there are international treaties or not.

The struggle for the environment is not about hugging trees, it is about our survival as a species.