Not business as usual: Science, community and practitioners conversations on Yolanda’s risks and reconstruction directions in the light of climate change

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) approaching the Philippines (Nov 3-11, 2013)

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) approaching the Philippines (Nov 3-11, 2013). Source: Wikipedia: Typhoon Haiyan.

The Manila Observatory, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University, Aksyon Klima, and in partnership with Christian Aid cordially invite you to

NOT Business as Usual:  Science, Community and Practitioners?Conversations  on Yolanda’s Risks and Reconstruction Directions in the Light of Climate Change

28 January 2014, 8:00 am,  5:00 pm, Room 302, 3rd Floor, Faber Hall, Ateneo de Manila University

Disaster risk is a function of the dynamic and complex interactions between hazards, exposure and vulnerability. While bio-geophysical settings are the stage for resilience, those who study and practice disaster management through risk reduction now accept that social forces principally determine it.

The cultural, economic and psychological factors that characterize populations drive exposure and vulnerability and are at the very root of risk.  With the official count at almost 8000 dead and missing (6201 and 1785, respectively), and the magnitude of her physical destruction, Yolanda?s wake has become the metaphor for disaster risk, growing exposure and chronic social vulnerability of coastal cities and small islands.

In developing countries, policy and practice need to disrupt these cycles at the very core of each local environment.

The objective of this round-table is to do precisely that


Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga (Manila Observatory)
Rosa Perez, Ph.D. (Manila Observatory and Asian Development Bank)
Dr. Gemma Narisma, Ph.D. (Manila Observatory and Ateneo de Manila
Fernando Siringan, Ph.D. (University of the Philippines)
Cesar Villanoy, Ph. D. (University of the Philippines)
Emma Porio, Ph.D. (Ateneo de Manila University)
Paulo Alcazaren (PDAA Singapore and Editor-in-Chief, BluPrint Magazine)

Tacloban City after the passage of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

Tacloban City after the passage of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Source: Wikipedia: Typhoon Haiyan.


Is Environmental Physics a Physics field?

by  Gemma Narisma

The thesis proposal defense did lead me to ponder on what exactly is the definition of physics.

My googling lead me quickly to the website of the IOP:

And here we clearly see how broad the expansion of physics topics has grown through time.  What I find helpful though is the very first
statement that says:

The dictionary definition of physics is “the study of matter, energy, and the interaction between them”, but what that really means is that physics is about asking fundamental questions and trying to answer them by observing and experimenting.

And towards the end the statement, “Physicists try to uncover these relationships through observing, creating mathematical models, and testing them by doing experiments.”

And I would like to think that that is what we are all doing but applied to different disciplines including environmental physics.

On environmental physics, it is interesting to see that the IOP has an environmental physics group.

But what is environmental physics? One of the fundamental books is by Unsworth and Monteith on the Principles of Environmental Physics:

and in the description it says:

Environmental Physics concerns the description and analysis of physical processes that establish the conditions in which all species of life survive and reproduce. The subject involves a synthesis of mathematical relations that describe the physical nature of the environment and the many biological responses that environments evoke. Environmental Physics provides a basis for understanding the complex responses of plants and animals to environmental change. “

And this is where we are heading with our research, to start digging into characterizing the relationships (quantitatively) that can help
describe the biological responses (crop yield in this case) that the physical environment (tmp, rainfall, etc) evoke. This kind of research hopefully will help us understand the response of plants (rice) to environmental change.  Hence, the agriculture nature of the work does not make it not physics.

As we move into broadening our work in Physics, it is perhaps important for us to see and understand these wider perspectives that
are now covered by Physics. (The IOP actually publishes the Environmental Research Letters, which is incredibly broad in coverage,
but signifies the broadening of areas that the Institute is beginning to be involved in.)