The trend of natural disasters that the Philippines is grappling with is a case of the poor paying the price of the actions of the rich.
The South Asian country has a population of around 93 million people and a GDP per capita of about 2,000, as opposed to 52,000 or so for the United States. It’s a small country industrially, but facing the consequences of global warming.
Carbon emissions is a big cause of global warming and probably the biggest cause of carbon emissions is industrialization. Many countries in the world are ahead of the Philippines in terms of industrialization – and hence carbon emissions – but it is currently paying a heavy price for it. You could say that the Philippines is paying a hefty price for the prosperity of other nations. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the Philippines ranks number 46 on the list of countries’ CO2 emissions for 2008. However, despite contributing a relatively small bit to the “pollution pot,” the Philippines has gotten a pretty bad dose of the outcome. Since the turn of the century, there have been six typhoons in the Philippines, all with major effects. Apart from those, Typhoon Thelma in 1991 had at least 5,000 casualties. The most recent typhoon, the Typhoon Haiyan, had an estimated death toll of 5,209 according to the country’s National Disaster Agency. It had winds of up to 270 km/h.
Rice is a main product of the nation; but, as further evidence of the Philippines paying the price of other richer nations’ actions, it was reported recently that about two-thirds of the rice growing area in the Philippines was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. A United Nations statement read: “Hundreds of thousands of farmers in the Philippines whose crops were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan need urgent assistance to sow new seeds before the end of the current planting season.”
It just doesn’t feel right that a country suffers so much when it is not even close to being one of the biggest “criminals.” It doesn’t feel right that the Philippines has to pay so much for the pollution being caused in faraway China. It doesn’t sit quite well that Tacloban has to take the fall for the high industrialization of New York. The argument should not be made that a country or any people deserve to die or have to pay heavily for industrialization. But, surely seeing the destruction done to the Philippines has to be a wake up call of some sort for appropriate actions to be taken to avoid future occurrences? Aid is pouring in from all nooks and crannies, but it has to be a better line of action to at least make an effort for the typhoon and storm occurrences to reduce.
The Filipino people are smarting and feeling pain over the recent Typhoon Haiyan, but it remains to be seen whether the big corporations will change their ways over what is going on in the Philippines. The richer and more industrialized nations should sit up and be a whole lot more considerate in their actions because there is at least one poorer nation paying the price for what they’re doing.
By Olajide Jatto
Channel News Asia