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« on: December 14, 2012, 07:42:28 AM »

Adapting to a warmer, harsher world: How resilient is the Philippines?
By Dr. Flor Lacanilao

Are we doing the right preparations for the worst problems facing our nation? Three articles from the leading journals Science and Nature during the last few days give some help and strategies we need to address them.

First is a brief on the Warming and Melting from Science (30 Nov 2012): “Mass loss from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica account for a large fraction of global sea-level rise. Part of this loss is because of the effects of warmer air temperatures, and another because of the rising ocean temperatures to which they are being exposed. Joughin et al. (“Ice-Sheet Response to Oceanic Forcing,” page 1172) review how ocean-ice interactions are impacting ice sheets… Shepherd et al. (“A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance,” page 1183) combined data sets produced by satellite altimetry, interferometry, and gravimetry to construct a more robust ice-sheet mass balance for the period between 1992 and 2011. All major regions of the two ice sheets appear to be losing mass, except for East Antarctica. All told, mass loss from the polar ice sheets is contributing about 0.6 millimeters per year (roughly 20% of the total) to the current rate of global sea-level rise.”
Second is Adapting to a warmer world from Nature (29 Nov 2012): “With developed nations doing little to slow climate change, some people  and private sector in underdeveloped and developed countries are building ramps, sea walls, dams, and other measures to adapt to the inevitable devastation.  See what success and failure from them the Philippines can learn. And how to balance short-term adaptation and long-term development efforts.” A solely top-down approach to adaptation —focusing on heavy investment in engineering and infrastructure — will not work as it is expensive and impractical.”

And third is How resilient is your country?, also from Nature (22 Nov 2012): “Extreme events are on the rise. Governments must implement national and integrated risk-management strategies.” Economic losses from natural disasters, worldwide, rose from $528 billion in 1981–1990 to $1,213 billion during 2001–2010. It is clear from experience, and this paper says that the regular use of scientific evidence by the government leaders and the media people is what led to more effective crisis management. Increasing number of heads of states want to make resilience in climate adaptation a priority, but are unsure of the first step. “Good practice demands a combination of quantitative knowledge and leadership at the top.” The author recommends that governments appoint “cabinet-level national-risk officers” like what is done for “enterprise-wide risk management” in the private sector.

The discussions in the above articles show how success of adaptation programs depended on scientific information, and on properly published studies and experts. President Aquino’s cabinet has two such experts who can use such studies to implement their respective programs. They are economist Arsenio Balisacan of NEDA and medical doctor Enrique Ona of DOH. But to insure useful cabinet decisions, more of Aquino’s secretaries should be the kind of Balisacan and Ona. That is, they should also have made major contributions to one's field, as a minimum requirement for the job (“Energy crisis and climate change,” Philippine Daily Inquirer).
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