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Disaster Management

Mexico Braces for Devastation as Monster Hurricane Otis Makes Landfall

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PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Mexico – Hurricane Otis, a powerful Category 4 storm, made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific Coast on Wednesday, unleashing torrential rains, damaging winds, and a life-threatening storm surge. The hurricane, packing winds of 140 mph, made landfall near the town of Puerto Escondido, a popular tourist destination in the state of Oaxaca.

The storm’s arrival triggered widespread power outages and caused significant damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Flooding was reported in several areas, with some residents forced to evacuate their homes.

Mexican authorities had urged residents in the hurricane’s path to take shelter and prepare for the storm’s impact. The government deployed emergency personnel and supplies to the affected regions.

Hurricane Otis is expected to weaken as it moves further inland, but it is still likely to bring heavy rains and strong winds to parts of central and eastern Mexico. The storm is forecast to dissipate by Friday.

Impact of Hurricane Otis

  • Widespread power outages
  • Damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges
  • Flooding in several areas
  • Evacuations of residents

Response to Hurricane Otis

  • Mexican authorities urged residents to take shelter and prepare for the storm’s impact
  • Deployment of emergency personnel and supplies to affected regions

Forecast

  • Hurricane Otis is expected to weaken as it moves further inland
  • The storm is forecast to dissipate by Friday

Additional Information

  • Hurricane Otis is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Mexico since 2014
  • The storm is expected to cause significant economic losses in Mexico
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Analysis

Flooding: How Hong Kong’s Visionary Flood Control Failed the Test of Climate Change

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Introduction

In recent years, Hong Kong has faced the growing threat of climate change and its adverse effects. One area where this issue has become particularly apparent is in the city’s flood control measures. Despite being known for its visionary flood control systems, Hong Kong has struggled to cope with the increasing frequency and intensity of storms and rising sea levels brought on by climate change. This article delves into the reasons behind Hong Kong’s inability to withstand the test of climate change and the challenges it currently faces.

A Brief History of Hong Kong’s Flood Control Strides

Hong Kong has always been susceptible to flooding due to its mountainous terrain and dense urban development. In response to this vulnerability, the city implemented a series of innovative flood control measures in the past, which were seen as groundbreaking and visionary at the time. These included the construction of extensive drainage systems, sea walls, and reservoirs to divert water away from urban areas.

The Impact of Climate Change

However, despite these initial efforts, the impact of climate change has proven to be a game-changer for Hong Kong’s flood control infrastructure. Rising sea levels, more intense rainfall, and the increasing frequency of typhoons have overwhelmed the city’s existing systems. These once-thought-of visionary measures have fallen short in the face of these new challenges.

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Inadequate Planning and Infrastructure

One of the major contributing factors to Hong Kong’s failure to adapt its flood control measures to climate change is inadequate planning and infrastructure. The rapid urbanization and population growth over the past few decades have placed immense strain on the city’s infrastructure. The existing flood control systems were not designed to accommodate such a rapid expansion, leading to inefficient drainage and increased vulnerability to flooding.

Dependency on Hard Infrastructure

Another limitation of Hong Kong’s flood control measures is the heavy reliance on hard infrastructure, such as sea walls and drainage systems. While these structures might have been effective in the past, they are insufficient against the rising tides and unpredictable weather patterns that come with climate change. The lack of flexibility and adaptability built into the existing infrastructure has left Hong Kong ill-prepared to face the current challenges.

Land Reclamation and Environmental Consequences

Land reclamation, a common practice in Hong Kong, has also contributed to the failure of flood control measures. By filling in coastal areas to create more land for development, the natural flow of water is disrupted, exacerbating the likelihood of flooding during intense rainfall or storm events. Furthermore, the loss of natural wetlands and green spaces due to land reclamation removes crucial natural buffers that can absorb excess water.

The Need for Integrated Strategies

To overcome these challenges, Hong Kong urgently needs to adopt more comprehensive and integrated flood control strategies. This includes a shift towards nature-based solutions that work in harmony with the environment, such as restoring wetlands and preserving natural reservoirs. Emphasizing a holistic approach that combines green infrastructure with hard infrastructure is crucial in creating a more resilient flood control system.

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Collaborative Efforts and International Expertise

The task of revamping Hong Kong’s flood control measures requires collaborative efforts and the engagement of international expertise. Learning from the experiences of other cities that have successfully adapted their flood control systems to climate change, Hong Kong can gain valuable insights and innovative ideas to implement in its own context. Engaging with experts in the fields of climatology, urban planning, and infrastructure development will be instrumental in finding sustainable solutions.

Public Awareness and Adaptation

In addition to infrastructure improvements, fostering public awareness and adaptation is essential in mitigating the impacts of climate change on flood control. Educating citizens about the importance of sustainable development, promoting responsible land use practices, and encouraging personal measures like rainwater harvesting can collectively contribute to minimizing the risks posed by flooding.

Conclusion

Hong Kong’s visionary flood control measures, once groundbreaking, have struggled to withstand the test of climate change. The lack of adaptability, inadequate planning, and reliance on hard infrastructure have rendered the city vulnerable to the growing risks of flooding. However, with a shift towards integrated and nature-based solutions, collaborative efforts, and public engagement, Hong Kong can build a more resilient flood control system to protect its citizens and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

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Analysis

Devastating Severe Storms Lead to Flooding and Casualties in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria

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Introduction

In recent days, a series of severe storms has unleashed chaos and destruction, triggering widespread flooding and claiming multiple lives in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The combination of torrential rains, strong winds, and overflowing rivers has resulted in devastating consequences for these regions. This article aims to provide an overview of the situation, detailing the impact of the storms and the measures being taken to deal with the aftermath.

1. Greece

Greece has been severely affected by the intense storms, with several regions grappling with heavy rains and flash floods. The islands of Crete, Rhodes, and Kos have witnessed significant damage to infrastructure, as well as the loss of seven lives. Roads have been washed away, houses submerged, and vital services disrupted, leaving residents in distress. The Greek authorities have initiated rescue operations and are working tirelessly to provide relief to the affected areas.

2. Turkey

In Turkey, the storms have battered the western provinces, leading to widespread flooding and chaos. The cities of Izmir and Bursa have been particularly affected, with reports of seven fatalities and numerous injuries. The torrential downpour has caused rivers to overflow, inundating residential areas and causing significant damage to property and infrastructure. The Turkish government, in coordination with local authorities, has deployed emergency services to provide immediate assistance to those affected.

3. Bulgaria

Bulgaria has also been grappling with the aftermath of the severe storms, witnessing heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding in various parts of the country. Rivers burst their banks, submerging villages and towns, and leaving residents stranded. The region of Burgas experienced the brunt of the storms, forcing the evacuation of affected individuals. The Bulgarian authorities are working diligently to assess the damage and provide aid to those affected by the devastating floods.

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4. Relief Efforts and Future Preparedness

In response to these catastrophic events, all three countries have mobilized their emergency services and resources to ensure the safety and well-being of their citizens. Rescue teams, including firefighters, police, and volunteers, are working around the clock to evacuate stranded individuals and provide immediate assistance. Additionally, temporary shelters have been set up to accommodate those displaced by the floods.

To mitigate the impact of future storms, governments are also focusing on enhancing disaster preparedness and response mechanisms. Improving early warning systems, reinforcing infrastructure in flood-prone areas, and promoting community awareness about safety measures are among the important steps being taken.

Conclusion

The severe storms and subsequent flooding that have struck Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria have resulted in the loss of lives, extensive property damage, and brought immense hardship to the affected communities. The governments of these countries are working tirelessly to offer support and relief to those affected, while also taking measures to enhance their resilience in the face of natural disasters. As the affected regions start the long process of recovery, international assistance and solidarity are crucial in helping them rebuild their lives and restore normalcy.

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Biodiversity

Fighting climate change through education in Balochistan

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A largely arid region of Pakistan, the province faces special challenges, and tackling them should start with the young

Rameez Kareem called Sabir, his elder brother, to discuss the impact of climate change when their father purchased land for farming. It was not a call to inquire after the health of Sabir, who was studying law in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province. Rameez was seeking advice on how to plant trees in a part of Balochistan where rainfall is erratic or scarce.

Rameez Kareem lives in Turbat, Kech district, which recorded a temperature of 53.5 degrees Celsius in 2017. In 2018, a group of young students started a “Let’s Green Turbat” campaign to educate people about the effects of climate change. They visited many schools to disseminate awareness on climate change. Rameez Kareem’s school was where he received understanding of the value of planting trees.

A man plants a tree in his farmland in Turbat, one of the hottest cities in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Photo: Ayaz Khan

The Education Department of Balochistan has incorporated chapters in some science and social studies subjects to sensitize students to the effects of climate change in the province. However, climate-change education is yet to be proposed as a separate subject.

“It’s essential to make climate-change education part of curricula. My younger brother Rameez Kareem, who studies in Grade 6 in Turbat, has attained climate-change education from chapters included in books and he practiced it when we planted many trees in our new farmland,” Sabir said. 

“To include chapters on climate change in the curriculum is a good initiative. I believe, like tasks associated with science subjects, climate-change education must have practical activities too. Students must plant trees inside schools as well as have to visit fields to gain education and knowledge about agriculture,” Sabir added.

Balochistan has the lowest tree coverage in Pakistanat 1.4% of total land area. Balochistan also benefits little from monsoons.

A research paper titled “Drought Trends in Balochistan” shows that the province is vulnerable to climate change. In terms of prolonged droughts, the province is the most affected in the country.

According to the paper, Bharkan, an arid region of the province, faced a drought lasting 22 months from 1999 to 2001. The province is also prone to low-level flash flooding. A recent record-breaking rainfall (104 millimeters) in Gwadar caused flooding in that port city.

Need for climate change education

Following the footprints of the Philippine government, the Pakistani Ministry of Climate Change began a plan to involve students in tree-planting activities. Under the strategy, students were required to plant trees and in return earn extra marks during examinations.

“It was a necessary step to educate students through activities. But the policy couldn’t last long given the dearth of interest,” Sabir said with regret.

According to a recent study, children born in 2020 could face seven times as many climate disasters than those born in 1960. The study reaffirms the belief that climate-change education is the need of the hour.

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Another study reveals a strong relationship between climate action and a course taught to university students. After taking the course, a majority of graduates reported pro-environment decisions. Their decisions reduced their individual use of carbon by 2.68 tons per year.

In addition, a study further reveals that if only 16% of high-school students in high- and middle-income countries were to receive climate-change education, there could be a nearly 19-gigaton reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050.

At the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Scotland late last year, a discussion on climate-change education also resonated. Education and climate ministers from various countries, including Siri Lanka, pledged to make climate education a priority.

Prior to COP26, through the Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development convened online in 2021, participant governments agreed that education could be a powerful means of shaping a worldview on climate change. In contrast to this, a report released by UNESCO, based on the data obtained from 100 countries, found that only 53% of the world’s curricula refer to climate change.

Pakistan is one of the signatories of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which urges members to undertake climate-change education and ensure public participation in such programs. In addition, Pakistan pledged to tackle climate effects through education in its National Climate Change Policy of 2012. 

With implementation of the Single National Curriculum, debate on whether to include climate-change education in the SNC started. Last May, the Climate Change Ministry introduced such education as a subject in the SNC.

Balochistan, after Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), is the third province to adopt the SNC.

“Balochistan has adopted SNC and whatever is included in it, we will implement,” said Saeed Ahmed Khan, director of the Balochistan Bureau of Curriculum and Extension. “We have adopted [the]first phase of SNC and it includes environment-related education from [Grades 1 to 5].

“Apart from this, despite making it [climate change] a new subject, we have chapters on environment in both English and Urdu. To add climate-change education, we can incorporate researched articles in scientific subjects. Introducing climate change as a separate subject will take time and effort.”

It might be easier, according to Ahmed, to introduce climate-change subjects in universities than in colleges. Hiring staff and introducing a new subject at college level needs much effort and time.

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Implementing climate change education

Saadia Khalid, head of the Lahore-based campaign “Climate Warriors,” believes that a climate-change curriculum should be a “hidden” one.

“My agenda is simple. Don’t buy bottled water. I carry my own. I walk and do not use a vehicle if the distance is coverable by walking. These steps are simple and we must train a teacher to teach these things to schools. Children understand things better.”

Asfand Bakht Yar is an environment educationist who administers workshop programs in schools initiated by An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. Bakht believes that it’s important to impart climate education to children in schools given the fact that schools can give formal education. The information is accurate and designed according to the age of children.

“I designed a program and proposed it to the Ministry of Climate Change. But I have been waiting for the feedback. After learning the basic concepts, children can play their role and become part of the solution,” Bakht said. 

The way forward

In 2018, an awareness campaign in KPK province had promising results. The campaign centered on educating school students about conservation of biodiversity.

Similarly, an effective method, according to Bakht, is to engage students in activities that lead to awareness and are also fun. Bakht urges that there ought to be workshop programs specifically designed for junior, senior, and post-primary-school education, respectively.

“Workshops must contain fun activities on concepts like climate change, recycling, water conservation, air quality and energy,” he explained. For Bakht, the EU Green School Model is workable in Pakistan. “The model might need some changes in environmental and climate curriculum on our part but will run parallel to the existing education system in Pakistan.”

Tahir Rasheed, director and regional head WWF Sindh and Balochistan, said: “Balochistan is a very diverse region. Of nine to 10 ecological zones, six lie in Balochistan. It’s a hyper-arid region and climate effects are high here.”

He added: “We need to educate and create awareness in multiple fields. We need to create awareness about protected areas, about repercussions of CPEC-related projects which might exacerbate the climate effects, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF), which is a serious threat to marine ecology.”

According to Rasheed, Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, during the last 50 years has confronted droughts and below-normal precipitation that have affected 60-70% of the population directly or indirectly.

Balochistan has a predominantly arid environment and thus sustainable management of natural resources, environmental as well as climate-change-related issues must receive a high priority in the government’s planning and development processes.

“Policymakers and civil society should be environmentally sensitized to take into consideration the climate agenda and ecological processes that sustain life in the province,” Rasheed emphasized.

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