About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Population, Sewage and Flood

I slept all day today. We're in the middle of typhoon Pedring, and Metro Manila was under Public Storm Warning Signal #2. With this kind of weather, schools from elementary to secondary are suspended, while tertiary schools (my university, for example) leave it to the school officials to decide on suspensions.

I stayed awake until 2 am reading manga, with twitter on another tab to keep track of the suspension status of our school. I think it's silly to let university officials decide on suspensions when they always do suspend classes when it's Signal #2. They should just make a rule that it's automatically suspended, and then have make-up classes on weekends. 

Public storm warning signals in the Philippines are based not on the amount of rain but on wind speeds. So it's possible to have heavy rain and flooding with no storm warnings. Exactly two years ago, Metro Manila was inundated by tropical storm Ondoy. The wind speeds, in Metro Manila at least, were within the maximum of 60 km/hr. These wind speeds were not high enough to cause damage to roofs here. The government weather bureau actually did all right with its prediction of wind speeds. Although people faulted the government for being unprepared, I don't know if you can actually predict the amount of rainfall from a given storm.

The lack of a sewerage system, and haphazard garbage collection exacerbates the problem of flooding. Sewage disposal is through septic tanks that are later drained by independent contractors (for people with means, at least), and dumped who knows where, or if you happen to be poor and living near a creek or river, it gets dumped directly into nearby waterways. As a result, our floodways are too clogged with  garbage to be useful in preventing floods. 

One sign of the problem is the population density of Metro Manila (18,000/sq km); Singapore, in contrast, has 7,000 per sq km. In fact, Manila (43,000/sq km) is the city with the largest population density in the world, and of the top fifty cities ranked by population density, we have 10 cities, all in Metro Manila, in the list. So people who claim we have no population problems here are talking through their hats. (Or their mitres). Now, translate these numbers into volume of garbage and sewage per square meter everyday, and you can say, that's a lot of shit!

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