Waiting on the Landslide

Rebuilding after 2013 Typhoon Haiyan is still taking place in the Philippines today. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In early September, Typhoon Mangkhut struck island Luzon of the Philippines, bringing with it winds of 200+ mph and floodwaters. While it struck a location shielded, in some capacity, by a mountain range, it nonetheless brought destructive winds, heavy flooding, and the threat of mudslides. Many residents of affected villages evacuated before the storm, but returned to their homes after the initial dangers subsided. The stability in the week following the typhoon was much like an interwar period, proving itself to be false in the unresolved tensions of nature. The calm that allowed for residents’ return was acted upon preemptively, as two landslides came in the week to follow, eroding the mountain villages in which residents had resettled. Imagined safety is consequential when damage lurks ahead, a truth faced by villagers of Naga and Igoton. The world at large waits to face the same truth, imagining its own safety until forced to confront the question, “What’s next?” from the colossal looming threat that is climate change.

Climate change-induced warm temperatures and high sea levels have, and will continue, to intensify hurricanes and tropical storms. One such storm was Typhoon Haiyan that caused irreparable damage to the Philippines in 2013 and was said to affect over 10% of the country’s total population. Unlike Typhoon Haiyan, which disproportionately harmed a populous and developed region of the Philippines, Typhoon Mangkhut struck the heart of agrarian and mining lands. Officials worry about the consequences for the food supply of the nation, bringing the world’s attention to the fragility of raw materials. The contemporary, globalized planet is one in which resources transcend political boundaries, thanks to the advent of trade. What is lost in the Philippines is lost also in Japan, the United States, and Hong Kong, the major importers of Philippine goods. But resources aren’t the only thing shared internationally. Causal blame for climate change, too, lies across the divisions of nations. International institutions bear the burdens of creating cooperation on transboundary chores and consequences, providing aid to the struck and enforcing coordination among the striking. What intensity must ensue for citizens of the world to reflect on the dangers of climate change and the necessity of cooperation? Even when the winds and rains subside, the landslide will come. What will it be?

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