There’s probably no story in the world right now that demands greater attention than that of the Philippines.
Hurricanes are usually something of an annoyance to regular South Floridians. I remember back in the bad years of 2004 to 2006, a Category 1 wasn’t worth preparing for. Students build up a state of apathy (beyond excitement over cancelled classes) toward mother nature’s worst storms after the first time we huddle as freshmen away from the storm of the year in our dorms. With all of this, hearing about a natural disaster, especially one in a faraway country, can be hard to picture, and even harder to care about.
Thus, consider basic numbers about typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines Friday:
- The Philippines, a nation of about 7,000 islands that is roughly 1,000 miles south of China, has a population of 100 million people, is the 12th most populated in the world, and is about as densely populated as Japan.
- The average citizen lives on less than $5,000 a year, and the median age is 22 years old, or a senior in college.
- When Haiyan hit land, it had sustained wind speeds of an estimated 195 mph, well into the range of a Category 5 storm, or a race car. Gusts were reported up to 235 mph, into the range of tornadoes, and the storm was about as wide as Hurricane Katrina, stretching the length of the country.
- It is the strongest storm ever accurately reported.
- Although 800,000 were evacuated or displaced, the storm surge was 15 to 20 feet high.
- In Tacloban (200,000 people), which lay in the middle of the storm’s path, the majority of the city has been destroyed or heavily damaged, and flooding extends at least a half mile inland.
- More than 2 million people, including 300,000 pregnant women and new mothers, are in need of food.
- The Red Cross is estimating at least 1,200 dead, while Filipino officials are preparing for 10,000 in Tacloban alone.
While the Philippines usually experience 20 to 24 Typhoons a year (Haiyan being the 24th), it is important to raise the point of climate change. The nation is an island nation, and there aren’t as many opportunities to “go inland” to escape the storm. I’d suggest hearing the strongly emotional address by Naderev Sano, the Philippines’ lead negotiator at COP18, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Sano breaks down into tears halfway through his prepared remarks, describing the devastation of typhoons and calling on the international community to act. The conference took place in December 2012.
If you’d like to help, you can donate to the Philippine Red Cross. They accept PayPal.
Links I’m Reading:
In China, by 2050, the population of senior citizens will swell to 330 million, a quarter of the country, with enormous repercussions on Chinese internal politics and international relative power –Yanzhong Huang in the Council on Foreign Relations
Because of the passing of Veteran’s Day, a day that now celebrates warriors instead of peace, consider that the best way to help veterans is to bridge the mental gap and (positive or negative) stereotypes between civilians and ex-military –Alex Horton in The Atlantic
Economics and Public Policy
Net neutrality, an obtuse but important pillar of customer protection in the digital domain, is explained, and likely futilely defended in a Wired opinion –Marvin Ammori in Wired
Broward and Miami-Dade public schools are changing their policies to lower the rates of student arrests on school campus, an important element in lowering dropouts and protecting students –David Smiley in The Miami Herald
The University of Miami turned a nice little profit of $220 million last year, largely from the medical school –Brian Bandell in South Florida Business Journal