Filipinos, ask your questions on how to cope with the effects of climate change


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Secretary Lucille L. Sering of the Climate Change Commission in the Philippines will answer 5 Questions in 5 Minutes on adapting to climate change -- Post your questions in the comments section below.As a resident of Quezon City in Metro Manila, I grew up with typhoons and floods during the monsoon season that normally lasts from June to September. People in cities have learned to live with floods, and perhaps, not learned from the experience enough to change mindsets, lifestyles. Our drains continue to be clogged, motorists get stranded on the road, families still live in danger zones so much so that entire communities get evacuated, lives and livelihoods are lost, year in, year out.

I thought that maybe when tropical storm ‘Ondoy’ (International Name: Ketsana) swept through the Southeast Asian region in 2009 and made landfall on the island of Luzon where Metro Manila is located, everyone would finally get a grip on reality. That actions need to be taken by everyone and not just put the blame on the usual suspects.

The 9-hour deluge caught everyone off guard. A mother recounted to me how she painfully let boxes of memories -  baby pictures -  float away, amidst fast-rising flood waters. Social media and the television were awash with this image of a family holding on to each other and to dear life as they were swept under a bridge on the swollen Marikina river. Families all over the metropolis waited atop rooftops for days to be rescued, and for food drops from choppers flying overhead. Post-Ondoy, communities which lost their homes and livelihood have had to adjust and adapt in order to survive. 

Beginning last week, the onset of the rainy season caused flash floods that again submerged many parts of Metro Manila. Many fear that if monsoon rains could already trigger flooding in a matter of minutes, what more with a typhoon? Do you know how many cyclones hit the country every year? Experts say that it’s between 7 to 8, but that they expect to see more violent storms come our way with a warming world. Why is Mindanao in southern Philippines, which didn’t see much weather disturbances in the past, now on the regular path of storms?

Do you know that climate change is more than about the changes in our environment? That it also affects how people earn a living and our nation’s economy?

A month’s worth of rainfall inundated most parts of Metro Manila
in just 9 hours, with flood waters reaching up to 20 feet in rural
areas in September, 2009 after typhoon Ondoy surged through
the island of Luzon.


A warming world is upon us. What can we, as ordinary citizens do to adapt to lessen its negative impacts? These are simple, but important questions to ask. If you have any more, post them here or join the conversation on Twitter by sending your feedback to @worldbankasia or to @CCCommissionPh with hashtag #askCCC. Climate Change Commission Secretary Lucille L. Sering will answer five of your most pressing questions in a short video called  5 Questions in 5 Minutes to be posted on in a few days Ask now!



Join the Conversation

June 24, 2013

What do you think is the single largest indicator of climate change?
Thank you,

Paul Phillips
June 23, 2013

White Top Tuesday. Sometimes we can concentrate so much on trying to help people adapt that we forget the people are angry because they are forced to adapt to something that is not of their making. Furthermore the people causing the problems for them, the worst polluting countries, seemingly do not care in the least about the extreme problems that they causing for the people of the Philippines . Hence an important thing to do is give the people a voice to vent their frustration & anger. At the moment the people will feel isolated. They probably feel nobody outside the Philippines really knows what is going on there, or really cares about their situation. World leaders are not reacting, by quickly putting into place new Green House Gas Emissions Treaties to help alleviate the problem. So their isolation & frustration continues to grow. Give them a chance to express their frustrations with respect this lack of global action. Let them participate in White Top Tuesday ( will give all the people of the Philippines the opportunity to shout out to the world. "We are here and we need your help". The unifying affects of Participating in White Top Tuesday will help the people come together in their times of absolute need, and will also link them with millions of other people around the world who are also directly feeling the affects of climate change. I am sure many people are saying but White Top Tuesday will not bring my house back, nor can it stop the next storm. And they would be correct. However nothing anyone could suggest can stop the storms for the short to medium future, and that is an unfortunate reality. However if you protest loud enough world leaders will hear you and they will begin to help the people of the Philippines adjust to what is surely going to be the future for us all.

Abby Pacquing
June 23, 2013

What can we as ordinary citizens do in our daily lives in order to mitigate the effects of climate change?

Paul Phillips
June 24, 2013

nobody can individually lessen the effects of climate change. It will take the united efforts of the entire planet to even just slow down the effects of climate change. However the most important thing you can do as "an ordinary citizen" is start to make changes in your life to adapt, Educate people in your community how to prepare for floods and storms. Most people die in storms because of lack of preparation. Get people in your community to also work out their personal evacuation or going to higher \round plan. many people living in single storey housing need to make arrangements with communities living in multi-level housing to take people in for a short time. We really are going to have to work together as one if we are going to make it through this century.

John Lukens
June 27, 2013

In response to John, I believe that the vested interests of the World Bank and other multi-national and national agencies are the single largest indicators of climate change (i.e., global warming). They have a vested interest in keeping their funding by promoting the notion that the world is still warming, when in fact it is now cooling.
If this is not a deliberate act by the Bank to continue creating climate hysteria, the only other explanation is that the Bank is so unaware of climate science that it doesn't realize that global warming stopped over fifteen years ago. Or will it soon belatedly discover the present cooling trend, and call that a climate problem?
Data from NASA and HadCRUT show that warming levelled off around 1997, and that there has been a gentle cooling trend since then. This is the same satellite data that the World Bank and other national/ international agencies accepted for the fifteen years prior to 1997 when data showed gentle global warming. These agencies needed only fifteen years of the same type of data to create climate hysteria. (For the record, similar data showing cooling trends before that was used by alarmists to cause climate hysteria in the 1970s.)
Further, over the past fifteen years, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have continued to rise while the world is cooling. Therefore is the conclusion that rising CO2 levels cause global cooling? Or is the conclusion that all of the major climate models are completely wrong, and that climate science must admit that they don't know much about the drivers of climate change?
Either way, the Bank should stop wasting money, and stop following anti-carbon, anti-growth political agendas if it seriously wants to help countries in the region both grow economically and simultaneously tackle their real environmental issues.
In closing, there is no doubt that the climate is warming, in fits and starts, since the last ice age waned. But the issues the Bank desperately wants to ascribe to "climate change" are actually caused by erratic and unpredictable weather events, not global warming or global cooling. Further, to the region's poor, many of whom live from day-to-day, something that may (or may not) occur in the next hundred years or more is meaningless.
If the Bank is to help the poor peoples in the region deal realistically with issues of drought, flooding, severe weather, and air and water pollution, it must stop beating the dead horse of climate change. Scrap the junk science and bring true science into the picture.

Paul Phillips
June 28, 2013

"Scientists and statisticians reject this sort of selective use of numbers, and when they calculate the long-term temperature trends for the earth, they conclude that it continues to warm through time. Despite the recent lull, it is an open question whether the pace of that warming has undergone any lasting shift.
What to make of it all?
We certainly cannot conclude, as some people want to, that carbon dioxide is not actually a greenhouse gas. More than a century of research thoroughly disproves that claim.
In fact, scientists can calculate how much extra heat should be accumulating from the human-caused increases in greenhouse gases, and the energies involved are staggering. By a conservative estimate, current concentrations are trapping an extra amount of energy equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs exploding across the face of the earth every day.
So the real question is where all that heat is going, if not to warm the surface. And a prime suspect is the deep ocean. Our measurements there are not good enough to confirm it absolutely, but a growing body of research suggests this may be an important part of the answer.
Exactly why the ocean would have started to draw down extra heat in recent years is a mystery, and one we badly need to understand. But the main ideas have to do with possible shifts in winds and currents that are causing surface heat to be pulled down faster than before.
The deep-ocean theory is one of a half-dozen explanations that have been proffered for the warming plateau. Perhaps the answer will turn out to be some mix of all of them. And in any event, computer forecasts of climate change suggest that pauses in warming lasting a couple of decades should not surprise us.
Now, here is a crucial piece of background: It turns out we had an earlier plateau in global warming, from roughly the 1950s to the 1970s, and scientists do not fully understand that one either. A lot of evidence suggests that sunlight-blocking pollution from dirty factories may have played a role, as did natural variability in ocean circulation. The pollution was ultimately reduced by stronger clean-air laws in the West.
Today, factory pollution from China and other developing countries could be playing a similar role in blocking some sunlight. We will not know for sure until we send up satellites that can make better measurements of particles in the air.
What happened when the mid-20th-century lull came to an end? You guessed it: an extremely rapid warming of the planet.
So, if past is prologue, this current plateau will end at some point, too, and a new era of rapid global warming will begin. That will put extra energy and moisture into the atmosphere that can fuel weather extremes, like heat waves and torrential rains.
We might one day find ourselves looking back on the crazy weather of the 2010s with a deep yearning for those halcyon days."
An extract from the New York Times which I think clearly answers your objections, John.
Look at the air pollution around you in your city. You do not need to be a scientist to know there are a lot more green house gases now being produced then in the time of the Romans. And you cannot even see most of them. HFC gases which replaced CFC's gases in refrigerants are 1000 times worse as a green house gas than C02.. But we cannot see them.
Be careful leveling harsh, unfounded criticism at organisations & banks that are trying to do the right thing by humanity. Of course there are many aspects of Human Induced Accelerated Global Warming our scientists do not fully understand, such as this plateau affect, However what 98% of scientists agree is human have accelerated global warming, and this is going to have disastrous effects for all humanity especially the poor. And if we wait until we 100% understand every aspect of global warming it will be much too late to do anything about it. If you could stop banks from supporting climate change initiatives you would ultimately be condemning hundreds of millions of people, in poor nations to a future with little to no hope of a future.

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John Lukens
July 08, 2013

07 07 13
Paul Phillips was kind enough to reply in detail to my question as to why we are so concerned about climate change when scientists admit that they don't understand the current global cooling cycle, nor past cycles that don't fit the now-discredited CO2 hypothesis. Basically, Paul made my point for me by admitting that there are myriads of components of the earth-ocean-atmosphere dynamics that scientists don't even begin to understand. Unfortunately, all of Paul explanations, based on surmises, not hard data, still implicate industry as the culprit in climate change, which indicates to me that he is not so much interested in "saving humanity" as in punishing capitalism.
His arguments are now based on appeals to have faith that industry is somehow to blame, and that any industrial by-product, is adversely affecting the climate, even though we have had these same types of warming and cooling cycles long before the industrial age. It’s the same tired agenda used by the leftists when we thought we were entering the next ice age in the 1970s, and then recast when we found global warming religion in the decade after that – and the science was “settled”.
I would have much more trust in Paul’s judgment if he didn’t try to appeal to our emotions. In fact, if he could take a dispassionate look, he could find some positive effects of these natural cycles, such as better crop yields in some parts of the tropics (a combination of increased atmospheric CO2 and warmer weather). He might also wonder why it appears that increases in atmospheric CO2 seem to follow warming trends, as much as precede them. As it is now, Paul, unfortunately is casting about to find some way to continue to implicate industry no matter what the climate does. This is a very questionable approach for very questionable reasons.
His arguments for pouring money at an issue that we don’t understand are based on faith, not science. (He might as well advocate spending trillions to protect humanity by creating a meteorite impact warning system. By his arguments, we can’t afford not to do it!) Further, even the IPCC admits that even if CO2 were responsible for the past warming cycle, the trillions of dollars the Bank and others wish to spend combating the problem would have a negligible effect. As it stands, many credible climate scientists believe that should wait for fifty years or more until we have hard, scientific evidence for continuing anti-global warming activities.
The Bank could much better spend its money on real problems affecting the region’s poor, not the global warming chimera. There are plenty of weather-related issues, like adaptation to drought and flooding, that demand the Bank’s immediate attention. And, as with most of these issues, the bio-physical factors take a back seat to the socio-economic factors.
John Lukens