Take S&T to disaster-risk mitigation agenda, UN expert says (Business Mirror)

Details Category: Science

01 Mar 2014

 Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent

THE United Nations (UN) has called on the popularization of science and technology (S&T), particularly in dealing with the climate change and disaster preparedness.

“Let us take S&T back to disaster-risk mitigation efforts,” said Margareta Wahlstrom, UN special representative of the secretary-general for disaster-risk reduction, in a news briefing on Friday. The briefing was organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which presented the agency’s road map on climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction.

Dr. Mahar Lagmay, executive director of Project Noah (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), presented the DOST’s road map, which shows available technology that allow the government to forecast the volume of rain, and weather disturbances, through scenario modelling.

According to Science Secretary Mario Montejo, this “scenario-based damage forecast will provide science-based estimate on the track and possible damage of a disaster, even before the event actually happens, giving us the head start for preparation.”

Lagmay said Project Noah is capable of predicting flood in 24 hours, and has the capacity to forecast storm surge at least two days in advance, through various computer models directly connected to the country’s weather forecast agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

“This includes the capability to predict typhoon track, its strength, and appropriate warnings two days before the actual arrival of typhoons.”

Wahlstrom said, “The scientific community started to call the attention of the public to the need of reducing the risk of climate change some 40 years ago,” and added that “unfortunately” many would not listen.

She, however, said, “many things have been positive because numerous developments have taught us to respond to the need.”

She acknowldged that there are still challenges, because much of the world’s perception still persist that climate change equals disaster. Wahlstrom pointed out that “it is not.”

“We should not blame the environment [for the disasters]. A large part of this climate change was brought by our use and abuse of resources and disregarded the effects,” the UN official said.

She also said, “In 40 years, if we do not succeed in curbing the effect of the current scenario, it would be difficult even to imagine what would happen.”

“We need more research on the economic effects of disasters, and these studies should not stop after six months or so, but should be a continuous process for us to be able to draw long-term planning,” she said.

Wahlstrom also said Supertyphoon Yolanda “has taught us also, both the international scientific community and the general populace, that much is yet to be done with terminologies in forecasting natural calamities such as weather disturbances.”

“For instance, she said, the world now knows that if we have said ‘tsunami-like’ instead of simply saying as surge, the people might have understand better the real danger.”

This article was originally published in Business Mirror on March 1, 2014. 

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