We take a closer look at the role humans play in the changing world around us — the good and the crazy. Featuring stories from the people hard at work behind the scenes: Naga’s uncannily accurate weatherman, the residents of Brgy. Kapitolyo, and volunteer groups around the country.
On the cover: Bruce Curran and Ben Chan photographed by Francisco Guerrero
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It used to be that talking about the weather was the worst kind of small talk. For all that’s said about the unpredictability of weather, at least we could count on the big picture remaining fairly constant: We knew when the wet and dry seasons would be, we knew which places to avoid, we knew which months were cold and which were hot.
We’ve just seen the hottest year on record, and scientists tell us that 2016 is going to be hotter still. We were spared from major disaster for the most part in 2015—though that may only be a matter of perspective; after Typhoon Yolanda, we no longer toss around the phrase “major disaster” around quite so easily. Our luck, we know, may not hold too long into the future—weather no longer has mere moods; weather has become nearly psychopathic in its rages.
We’ve discovered something at the other side of all this. We’ve discovered that, however big a role human beings may have played in bringing this climate craziness about, it’s also people who are helping change things back, and it’s people who are protecting their fellow human beings from disaster. There was the Paris Climate Change Conference of November 2015, for one thing, where the different nations of the world (finally!) got together to agree, first of all, that things could still be helped; and second, to agree on an urgent plan of action.
But while governments are working on the big picture, much closer to home, it’s individuals who are hard at work trying to fix things on the ground. We found Mike Padua (“The Weather Man,” page 60) working out of his home base in Naga City some years ago—right before Yolanda, in fact—and we’ve been grateful for his invaluable information ever since. We’re glad to finally be able to feature his story in GRID, first as a tribute to the far-reaching effects that one’s strange geekery may have, and second as a way to call attention to his work as a one-man weather station. His story matters because, in the face of global-scale weather challenges, when governments and other agencies aren’t able to cover all the bases, it’s people like Mike who have taken up the challenge.
It’s a story that is echoed in our other piece, which I’ve actually been working on since 2013 (“Where There’s Good,” page 80). It’s a story I keep coming back to, especially when the going gets tough. It’s the story without one hero; it’s a story about the heroism found in communities and in groups of dedicated people who have decided to work together for a common good. Preparations for climate change is a recurring theme there, too, though it’s not the only one; environmental degradation and poverty are intertwined among other issues, though the message there is still the same. We’re all in this together, and we’re only going to be able to get through this if we look out for one another.
Editor at Large