Manila Drowns, Again

Residents wait for their family members being rescued at the end of a flooded street in the village of Tumana, Marikina town, in suburban Manila, on August 7, 2012, after torrential rains inundated most of the capital. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

Enormously frustrating that no article [here, here, here] I can find on Manila flooding and tropical storms puts this week’s events in the context of past such events.  The Philippines, like Bangladesh, is always saturated by monsoon rains. What we need to know, and in every article, is the trend line.  Compared not just to one other major storm or flood (2009 Philippines, 900 dead), but to years. How does this compare: total rainfall; intensity of rain; flooding, deaths, homelessness?  The business world lives and dies on rolling averages and minute tracking of sales and expenses compared to others in the industry, past records and future projections.  Is it so much to ask that where human lives and welfare are at stake similar tools are put to use?

The CNN link above links to another CNN article: What’s behind the major flood disasters in Asia? The best the author can do is this:

We always say that global warming or climate change does not explain, or cause, specific weather events or disasters. But one of the consequences of climate change, according to climate scientists, is a higher frequency of extreme rainfall events. A warmer climate results in more moisture in the atmosphere from evaporation, and thus, higher rainfall amounts are possible in storms.

Could this be what we are seeing? Perhaps, especially considering we have not seen an increase in the number of tropical storms or typhoons over the past several years, but the number of intense flooding scenarios seem to be in the rise.

Thanks, but let’s get data, comparisons, charts.  It is said that no single storm is caused by climate change.  Fair enough I’ve thought, until recently.  But if 30 migrants are stuffed into the back of a closed truck and some suffocate or die of heat exhaustion, would we say that no single death was caused by the conditions in the truck?  The insurance company perhaps — not the lack of oxygen, but compromised lungs, yada yada yada.  The rest of the sane world would know exactly what killed them.

All storms are taking place within a radically changing climate, and we should be expecting the unexpected, quit dithering and get about saving ourselves.  Kick the door down; stop spewing heat-trapping stuff into the sky above us.

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