One of the most pronounced consequences of climate change on the Philippines is the increasing rainfall frequency and severity. The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) reported that the year 2008 saw “fewer typhoons but moderate to heavy rainfall were frequent even during months when rain should be scarce and in areas that normally have little rainfall, causing massive flooding and landslides.” This year indicates more of the same, with various PAGASA reports pronouncing the recent early rainfall incidences as possibly due to climate change, and predicting increased rainfall and stronger typhoons year-long.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warned that the economies of Asia and the Pacific are facing real economic and environmental threats posed by climate change, even as it is not a major source of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, as the major industrial nations such as the United States that are the primary contributors. This greatly limits the participation of marginalized, climate-sensitive nations in the Asia, particularly small island developing states (SIDS) such as the Philippines, in the efforts to mitigate global warming.
Adopt a Sustainable Adaptation System Now
It is in this light that the Philippines must pursue a climate change policy in the national scale, with particular stress to having a sutainable adaptation system to effectively address the looming risks. Effective adaptation, according to the Ibon Foundation, must be able to reduce the vulnerabilities of climate-sensitive sectors, while taking into consideration the local conditions of the environment and populace and integrating it into the framework of development and poverty eradication.
The Philippines has had a long-standing climate adaptation experience in the form of its history of disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects, particularly in response to typhoons that commonly frequent SIDS. General DRR efforts, however, have largely been reactive in character in the form of post-disaster relief operations.
New Media’s Role in Climate Adaptation
New Media (NM) in the Philippines such as digital social networking, micro-blogging, web portals and others are generally under-utilized with regards to climate change concerns due to various limitations. One such flaw would be its inappropriation to the local conditions inherent in Philippine communities, especially to rural areas where technological capabilities in using New Media are minimal.
An appropriate implementation of a NM system has great potential in contributing an anticipatory form of adaptation to national efforts. It can be utilized to disseminate climate change information and awareness, coordinate adaptation measures such as early warning systems and emergency response schemes, and systematically document climate change related concerns to the broadest area possible.
NM tools can also serve as channels for developing and promoting policy advocacy on climate change. A strong mobilization of advocates from the grassroots level is necessary to achieve gains in the national climate change debate, and this can be achieved by combining NM with organizing. NM tools can also serve as a link between the local and the international climate change movement.