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What we must do to prevent future tragedy like Philippines after Haiyan Typhoon?

Relief efforts have been implemented significantly in the Philippines these days. But these are actions after a disaster. We are totally passive in this event of Haiyan Typhoon. Thousands of people already died and thousands more are waiting for basic needs and relocation.

After this event like this, people always want to take some actions like donating and volunteering. But these are simply not enough. We need bigger-scale solutions that are implemented before the tragedy not after one.

People rely so much on large conferences on climate change every year. But somehow, this does not work as too many countries are involved and do not want to compromise their benefits for a solution. An example is UN climate change conference.

I think there are two approaches to make people in countries like Philippines suffer less: initiatives to reduce global warming (main cause of stronger storms) of course. The other approach is to make people less vulnerable when disasters happen.

With the second approach in mind, what should we do? Who should take actions?

Some ideas I have but I am not sure if they work. I will be more than happy to hear from experts in this field.
Build concrete shelters underground?
Massive evacuation of people in advance by airplanes and ships?

Please contribute any idea you have on how to solve this solution

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    Nov 30 2013: I think there're two ways to minimize natural disaster damage. One is making houses less vulnerable to damage, the other is creating social system that can quickly response to the event.
    In my country, Japan, we have so many typhoons and earthquakes, but victims are few. This is because in a long history of being exposed to disasters, Japan has acquired a resistance. Technology is applied to buildings,making them strong, and when a disaster occur, rescue teams will be dispatched swiftly.

    Of course, other disaster-exposed-countries are sure to have their own resistances. So I think a method of minimizing the damage is sharing these technical know-hows globally and more actively.
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    Dec 2 2013: Natural disasters are something that humans are unable to control. However, I believe that by making stabilized shelters and aid available immediately would be a help. We cannot control the lives lost, but we can control who we can save.
    • Dec 9 2013: Control means you have the power to do it. I don't think we can control aftermath of the disaster. I personally got affected by the typhoon, and hearing from my loved ones makes me feel helpless. Things can not be ideal like you are dreaming. How many people do you think are aware of this global issues ? How long will the reliefs last without the awareness? What stretagies do we need to make the community alive again? Making shelter could be the temporary way for saving people's lives, but they need to live in the community. You seem to overlook one important fact. We can be the help, but we can not control.
  • Nov 30 2013: i live on the east coast of Sri Lanka; after the 2004 tsunami i have seen the whole machine of INGO´s at work first hand. They are all little kingdoms, where nitwits control multimillion dollar projects. There is zero transparency, an absolute refusal to work together, and a overwhelming tendency to choose the wrong local partner.
    my family and i (in fact, everyone in the village who didn´t own land)were relocated by the UN and Red Cross to a place WITH NO WATER. 9 years after, we still walk around carrying buckets for drinking, washing and cleaning.... even though 3 multimillion dollar INGO´s claim to have succesfully given us watersupply. (yes, we have a borewell, yes we have a watertower, and yes we have pipelines; thanks for that... no water came out of the taps.....)
    the worldwide response was heartwarming, billions of dollars flowed into the country, but my fairly educated guess is that 3% actually reaches its target. ZERO Transparency.
    INGO´s cannot report on their failures, because sponsors would withdraw. And INGO´s are business, not charity, No INGO´s is willing to disclose their salaries
  • Dec 4 2013: I think it isn’t always possible to predict early enough disasters. But each country has assets to use to try and mitigate the worse effects of disaster, as it is already said.

    The main one we can do, is to be there to help governments. And UNESCO provides expert advice and technical assistance to governments to UN agencies and non-profit associations in order to revive the education system after a disaster.
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    Nov 29 2013: One thing about natural disasters is their distinctive destructive impact; so as humans making plans, we tend to underestimate the forces of nature. Sometimes we mistake knowledge for solutions; but knowledge is only the beginning.
    We should work on faster response and rescue operations in event of a future occurence. We should help as we want to be helped if we were to be in that kind of situation.
    We should stop playing politics with the issue of global warming. Debates that are for show, and not for impact and change, should give way to purposeful pursuit of solutions.
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    Nov 20 2013: We must have and implement strategic relief supply depots around the globe.Waiting 6 days for relief supplies is not acceptable.They must be placed in each country under the auspices of a global relief supply body.The ad hoc nature of relief, is reactive not proactive. As more of these situations arise due to climate change, strategic relief supplies under the control a decentralized governing body is a must.
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    Dec 16 2013: I do not think that the second approach (make people less vulnerable) will work. I think that this approach can have benefit in the short term but will cause more severe outcome in the future since it cannot solve the fundamental problem. It is just like the regulation to make pollution "less bad" cannot solve the environmental problem; the approach to make people less vulnerable can only make people become more careless about reducing global warming since they now have more confidence in protecting themselves from strong storms.
  • Dec 12 2013: Even if you could forsee the disasters, they will never stop.
    The only solution to prevent from such a disaster is to predict it. Since it isn't possible, there will always be disasters.
    And you are talking from Global warming... I am sure that building massively with concrete only enhance global warming, because it is not an ecological material.
    If everyone is acting eco-friendly, espescially in our rich countries, it would be much better.
  • Dec 9 2013: Build concrete shelters underground? How's that going to work with all the rubble on top?
    Massive evacuation of people in advance by ships? While a typhoon is coming really??
    Climate change, there have been typhoon's and hurricanes since day 1. That wont change is the way the adiabatic system works.

    The problem here is NOT the typhoon, but rather the way we value humanity, until that changes, things will stay the same.
  • Dec 6 2013: Solving disaster problems across the world I think is essentially a problem of resource management, design, engineering codes of practice, and people's awareness.

    A disaster is called a disaster when it hits a system, and causes a significant level of loss. In this sense, a disaster can always be mitigated if the acceptable level of loss is properly addressed. In case of frequent occurrence of losses such as in Haiti, the problem is not preventing disasters. The issue rather is how to ensure that cities or nations across the world learn from these events.


    I agree with your view on act of donation. Often it is seen that people act due to their emotional need to help. However, one can argue that the act of helping essentially needs to be matched to the call for help in order to be effective, useful and changing. In other words, according to Sally Kohn, we need to think about the emotional correctness of donations and international aids too.

    Sally Kohn talk: http://www.ted.com/speakers/sally_kohn.html
  • Dec 5 2013: it is hard to predict how devastating a disaster is. But what government can do is improving the basic facilities, services and installations. In addition, the government should make contingency plans in advance before typhoon is coming, like setting emergency shelters. What's more, people should master how to advoid danger places and survive when typhoon or something else is coming.
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    Dec 4 2013: Certainly the typhoon was one of the worst in history, but the poverty of a country that has been ravaged by colonialism and held back by massively corrupted regimes--this certainly plays a part in the level of destruction and the massive loss of lives. We have witnessed this before in Haiti with the earthquake. Preparation and social focus are essential. Yuma a few posts ago makes important points about the Japanese and preparedness, but the manner in which the reactors placed and the fact that they were in woeful need of repair and refurbishing only compounded the natural disaster tenfold. In the US, Hurricane Katrina is a testament to the social side of natural disasters. This is true from the faulty construction of the levees by the army engineers and the US government's utter disregard for the poor black people of New Orleans once the city flooded. Quite frankly, the response, or actually non response, to the levees giving way and the actions to keep poor black people inside the city demonstrated a racist mindset of the government. Whatever one thinks about Cuba, they know how to deal with hurricanes. They are super prepared and act as one society focused on saving everyone's lives. Cuba immediately volunteered for ships with doctors and medical personnel to sail to New Orleans to aid in the disaster. Of course the US government declined. Even as it did not act.

    The Philippine tragedy shows once again that a deeper social answer is needed, from the construction of stronger buildings (a matter of wealth, or lack thereof) to the focus of emergency and evacuation capacity (again the same issue). And all of this calls into question the very social order that holds sway in the country.
  • Dec 3 2013: I think that it's impossible to prevent the part of whole area in Philippine when thetyphoon is coming.However, there are two better ways to help them.First, they should build the house not only wood but also concrete.I heard that most of people were living in house and it made of wood.but It's impossible to staying oppositing the typhoon and that's why a lot of people died crashed to death.Second, Global warning is acquired all around the world people.we can make it more slowly and slowly and need to talk each president more seriously.we don't know exactly our future tragedy but prevent to it.
  • Dec 2 2013: who can minimize the smoggy weather in china? the sky is becoming worse and worse,
  • Dec 1 2013: Do better feel better.
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    Nov 28 2013: If you want to prevent this from happening again.

    Build your own HAARP and take control of the weather.

    In the case of a typhoon, hurricane, massive storms, you could redirect it somewhere else.
    In the case of an earthquake or a tsunami, HAARP could not help to prevent damages.
  • Nov 24 2013: For hurricanes and typhoons, you will have to use the military to force people to move away from the coast permanently. There is no other way to do this. There are times when you must choose between security and liberty. I will choose liberty plus knowledge. Let people know the real risks and let them choose. Many will choose to remain on the coast.
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    Nov 24 2013: Becoming responsible and realizing that we are not alone in our little part of the world. This is where everything comes from and the point from everything can change to avoid this sort of disaster. From there, people will realize that what they gain in a short terms against his neighbour will be lost soon and, at the opposite, what is gain with the help of others will grow even better for everybody, creating a real gain somewhere. This is, may be, what american people should learn from.
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    Nov 21 2013: Yes, I agree. At the moment, relief supplies by the US are transported from the US to Philippines. It is like 12 hours fly away. More time is wasted after a disaster, more people die because of the lack of food and diseases.

    These depots should be located in countries that allow military airplanes from another country to access too. For example, if a depot is in Shanghai, China, I don't think China will let C-130 airplanes of US Army to help transporting relief supplies though. In that case, organizations must rely on private service but army is always a main force in relief effort.
  • Nov 19 2013: Perhaps we should define tragedy before we can think about preventing it?

    Tragedy is nothing more than people in the way of natural processes. If you take the same storm and an unpopulated land mass, there is no tragedy.

    If we accept that people shouldn't live in areas prone to [severe] natural processes (earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes) we can then realize that people "reap what they sow". So where does that leave us?

    a.) We have to understand that people will continue to live in areas subject to [severe] natural processes which leads to
    b.) We shouldn't seek to prevent it as much as RESPOND to it. How do we RESPOND in such a way to minimize the suffering? The suffering will come - you can't change that. We can change the RESPONSE however.
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      Nov 21 2013: Yes, of course, people will continue to live in places where natural disasters happen because their families and ancestor lived there at the time that disasters are not deadly like currently. People are not going to abandon their countries, they will settle no matter what.

      I think tragedy is when a natural disaster is so strong that people cannot cope with like in the case of 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake demolished countless buildings although buildings had been made by Japanese architects to survive earthquake. Also when people are unprepared for disasters, and then they must face the undesirable outcome.

      Therefore like you say, disasters will come and we must respond well to it. But in order to respond well to a disaster, we must act even before the disaster's appearance. Japanese invented buildings that can deal with small earthquakes. So Philippines should think about a program to make shelters less vulnerable to typhoon too as the poor country has to deal with so many storms every year.
    • Nov 29 2013: It's an odd truth Chris. People seem to be able to ignore the dangers of a given region. California is an excellent example. They've had numerous earthquakes, and all evidence indicates there will be a major quake in the near future...yet that dense population remains firmly entrenched.
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    Nov 19 2013: In case of Philippines, I agree that evacuation by sea and air may be impractical because the country is small islands covered by ocean. Even people can evacuate to the central region of each island or another island but they somehow still deeply affected by the typhoon.

    However, in countries with a long coast and a big mainland like Vietnam, people can evacuate to the mainland and be safe from strong forces of typhoon. In the event of Haiyan, Vietnam evacuated about a million people from coastline to the mainland using big buses. When the typhoon makes landfall, it weakened and had less affects. Therefore, massive evacuation is still effective in countries like Vietnam.

    I know one main reason that makes relief effort so slow is that roads to isolated areas are blocked. However, the transportation of heavy equipment from other areas is quite complicated. It cannot be done in a short amount of time before a storm makes landfall. We must rely on local resources like construction sites. However, these places are under construction so debris may block heavy equipment too. Also, don't forget to run these equipment we need oil/gas or electricity that may not be available right after a storm hits.
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      Nov 19 2013: Each country has assets to use to try and mitigate the worse effects of disaster. Don't be too quick to point out the problems of prepositioned heavy equipment.
      In Canada, a road through the northwest part of the country is effected by great snow storms each winter.
      The government has "prepositioned" heavy plows to keep this road open. Usually, within a day of the end of the storms, the road is open and traffic can flow.

      The needs and planning for such storms or other disasters is complicated but doable and assets from local construction companies are included. Time is important, It would be more difficult to address an earthquake, but even in this situation, disaster planning is necessary.
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        Nov 19 2013: Good point on earthquake situation, typhoon may be dangerous too but allows government to prepare fore 2-3 days in advance. Earthquake is like a sudden killer as in the case of Japan's 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Warnings were sent only seconds before it happened.
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    Nov 19 2013: I don't see any effects that can be made on the formation and path of great storms. Low countries like the Philippines are vulnerable to two forces in face of these storms, great winds and great waves. There is not a lot of actions that can be down with a great number of people. Evacuation by sea maybe untenable. Evacuation by air is also impractical due to numbers of aircraft and landing areas putting too many people into to small area.
    So, that leaves shelter in place. It can done. Shelters need to be available close by, offer food, shelter and sanitary services, even limited medical services and.... the most important and.... be self sufficient for at least 4 weeks. As we see today, even with worldwide input of services, many in the Philippines will be without help for weeks.
    Here is one thing I saw happening there. There was warning of a major storm. It should have been known that there would be damage. What I did not hear or see happening was the prepositioning of heavy equipment to be available to open roads for the movement relief. Major roadways should be opened in hours after a storm and side roads open with a day.
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    Nov 18 2013: Here is an article today from Co.Design with interviews with three architects on the challenge of architectural solutions: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021580/innovation-by-design/is-it-even-possible-to-design-buildings-that-can-withstand-250-mph-typh
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      Nov 19 2013: Thank you for useful link. I am glad to hear that building of such shelter is possible.

      The article mentioned "cost is a major issue". However, look at the cost of the world and the Philippines because of Haiyan super typhoon right now. Aid money to help people survive and recover from the tragedy reaches over 30 million dollars already. Of course, other countries will not be interested in helping another country financially unless in case of maintaining relationship or emergency. But I think the money Philippines government lost because of Haiyan can help build a number of durable shelters already. Even they cannot build a durable shelter for each family, they can build a big community shelter to reduce the cost and still keep people safe. As long as people can survive, they will recover quickly. If they see their family die, they lose hope and become desperate.
  • Nov 18 2013: Global warming isn't the cause of stronger storms.
    That myth is a creation of the measurement system used by Al Gore for damage done by hurricanes over the years in USD. Thing is, property value and density have been steadily increasing over the years all over the US, and along the beach in particular, which leads to greater damages (more property to be damaged), without actually increasing the strength of the storms.
    Even if global warming is man made, I suggest you work under the assumption its not going to get solved.

    Now for the more practical side of things.
    I don't know what the primary causes of death are in a typhoon, but I can hazard a guess that most of them can be avoided through proper house construction. Something that won't be washed away, and have at least one room in the house capable of sustaining impact from a fast flying object (which would also double out for earthquakes, which are absolutely not an made).
    We have shielded rooms in every house (built after a certain year) in my country mostly to protect from bombing, but they double out nicely in case of a more natural threat.
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      Nov 19 2013: Global warming raises the temperature of ocean. Hot water of ocean feeds a storm and makes it stronger. I agree that global warming cannot be solved completely but we must put some kind of limit to it.

      Yes, I think a properly-built new kind of house can certainly protect people from flying object and remain in strong wind. However another danger for people in storm is flooding and landsliding. Both water and soil can block any ventilation of the house. Can we invent a house that can protect people from dying because of suffocation also?
      • Nov 21 2013: If you have the budget for it, I suppose you could build your shelter to float while still remaining armored (attach it to rigid air tanks while its anchored with a chain or something).
        Probably more money than its worth though, statistically speaking--you'll be able to save more people investing that money in other things. Some risks simply have to be taken.

        Concerning global warming, personally I have my doubts whether its even man made.
        Either way, trying to solve a global problem to fix your local one is a pretty poor solution, given realistic means and resources available. Food got more expensive all over the world? Seeing as I don't have the cash to shell out increasing competitiveness of food prices world wide, I'd just raise my food budget. Its not ideal, but its realistic.