Tag Archives: climate change adaptation

5 Tips on How to Make a Mind Map for Research Purposes

Do you know that mind mapping is a useful research tool? Here are five tips on how to make a mind map in developing and enhancing your research topic. An example mind map on climate change is provided at the end of the article.

A mind map can portray relationships and interactions between the different variables or factors that arise from a given topic. For this reason, mind mapping can be effectively used in generating ideas to enrich and enhance your research topic. You can use your mind map in writing the introduction of your research paper or identify gaps in knowledge while preparing your review of literature. 

Five Tips on How to Make a Mind Map for Research Purposes

How do you keep the ideas flowing and enrich your mind map to show everything that comes to mind? The following are five tips on how to make a mind map for research purposes.

1. Don’t evaluate too much.

As you prepare the mind map, you will have the tendency to stop and evaluate if you did connect the right factors or variables that come to mind.

Why is this so?

This is because you are still unconsciously bound by rules or standards set to conform with the norm. You want to conform with what you have learned or what other people have set before you.

You need not be concerned about these rules or standards but allow your mind to flow smoothly or wander. Just let it go where it can comfortably go.

Starting with the central idea, connect any subtopic that comes to mind. Don’t ask yourself whether that subtopic or idea is appropriate to connect with the central idea or not. Just quickly write it and connect with the central idea.

2. Give a time limit for each subtopic listed down in your mind map.

Allow only a few seconds to ponder on a specific subtopic you have written. Don’t let a minute pass on a single topic so you can populate your mind map with more ideas.

3. Be creative.

Preparing a mind map is an opportunity to be creative. You need not only words to express what comes to your mind.

If you want to draw a symbol, scribble a note, place a quotation or anything that reminds you of a particular topic, do it. Graphical entries make your mind map more interesting.

4. Avoid analysis paralysis.

Oftentimes, we have the tendency to overanalyze things or plan too much. This is referred to as analysis paralysis. It’s a hindrance to a productive endeavor.

Don’t be a perfectionist in making your mind map. Briefly analyze how the variables or factors relate with each other and then go ahead with the other components as swiftly as you can. Through constant practice, this will help you process information quickly.

5. Read a lot. Your mind map is only as good as your exposure on a given topic. Therefore, it pays to educate yourself on the specific topic you want to write about or do research on.

Example Mind Map on Climate Change

Applying these tips, I prepared a mind map on climate change as the main theme. Many variables come into play and get incorporated in the mind map as I let my mind wander. I tried to be sensitive on what subtopics my mind suggests to incorporate.

Using the tips above, here’s an example of a mind map that I have produced in a matter of 30 minutes using a free version of XMind, a mind-mapping software.

climate change mind map
Example mind map on climate change (click to enlarge).

Try these tips and enhance your creativity in preparing mind maps.

© 2014 May 14 P. A. Regoniel

Is Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan Due to Climate Change?

It has been three weeks since typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan hit the eastern part of the Philippines quite hard that left nothing but debris to once thriving city of Tacloban and nearby areas. This was an unimagined and unexpected result of sometimes more than 300 kph winds that sent even concrete houses to ruins. Imagine the devastation that a car can do if lifted by the winds or water and hurled at that speed against a concrete wall. Storm surge, a rise in sea level above the usual tide level as intense storm moves over water, left many without homes to live on once the storm has passed and inflicted its fury.

Despite disaster mitigating preparations to frequently typhoon visited places of eastern Philippines, typhoon Yolanda proved to be an exceptional one. Some evacuation centers in raised areas did not serve their intended purposes because these were also ravaged by the strong winds and 10-foot waves. Lives were lost and much agony and chaos transpired at the aftermath.

Typhoon Yolanda Due to Climate Change?

Is this unfortunate event a result of climate change? There were reports from various sources saying with apparent confidence that typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan is a result of climate change. But is this really a well founded statement?

For a scientist or a discerning person, a pronouncement like this is not easy. There should be an empirical investigation and evaluation of data to make such conclusion. An examination of historical records will reveal important information that will cause one to pause and think, if indeed, the typhoon is unusually strong due to changes brought about by global climate change.

typhoon

If we evaluate the records of typhoons that crossed the Philippines in the past, there actually were typhoons of similar magnitude as Yolanda or Haiyan. In a Yahoo news story, two typhoons approximate the same damage . One was recorded in January 12, 1898 and another in 1912. According to estimates, the former typhoon left 400 Europeans dead and 6,000 natives while the latter killed or wounded 12,000 people. The latter typhoon hit similar areas, i.e., the provinces of Leyte and Capiz.

Yardstick for Comparison

Apparently, these data suggest that past typhoons similar to Yolanda or Haiyan already crossed the affected areas. Typhoons of such magnitude come in cycles. They tend to repeat through time. If such is the case, then there’s no reason that the current onslaught can be fully attributed to the effects of climate change; apparently has become much more pronounced during the past two decades.

On the other hand, these reports alone may not be sufficient evidence to compare typhoon impact in the areas mentioned. Similar parameters should be used, meaning, all conditions during typhoon impact should be the same. A great difference exists in many respects. Some of those related to the number of casualties are listed below:

  • disaster preparedness of the people
  • accuracy of inventory and reports
  • human population of the stricken areas
  • timeliness of rescue, assistance and relief
  • technological (especially communications) capability

While climate change is a convenient excuse for the great damage inflicted by supertyphoon Yolanda or Haiyan, the message of the unfortunate event is clear: Be always on guard. Whether the typhoon is due to climate change or not, warnings of an unusual event should not be taken lightly. Experience is not the only sole basis for readiness.

© 2013 November 28 P. A. Regoniel

Indigenous People’s Adaptation to Climate Change

Climate change spared not indigenous people’s lives as these stories reveal. Read on to find out how they tried to adapt to the brunt of climate change.

Shift in Weather Condition Affects Upland Agriculture

The indigenous people of Palawan Island like the Palaw’ans observed that there was a sudden shift in weather condition that influenced their planting season in the rain dependent uplands. Normally, they would start planting their slash-and-burn farms when the ground is moist enough to support growing seeds.

The Palaw’ans and other indigenous ethnic groups like the Tagbanua test the soil’s moisture by plunging the sharpened, hollow-end of a bamboo (Schizostachyum lumampao) pole into the ground. When the ground is dry, the soil will fall off from the hollow opening but when it is moist, the soil would stick inside the hollow end. Sudden, earlier than usual downpour would show the latter soil condition and the tribe would start planting their crops. But then they saw their efforts gone to waste when several months later, heavy rains pound the almost ripe grains of rice. They could not predict the whims of the weather.

The sudden changes in weather also led to the pest outbreaks like rat infestations in farmlands. Aside from this, changes in weather can trigger the spread of plant diseases, severely parched crops thus less crop production, and displacement of farmers from their land.

How do the indigenous people adapt to these changes? The two adaptation strategies discussed below was described by Reden, a colleague who was once working with indigenous people in the remote hinterlands of southern Palawan as part of the university’s extension activities.

Adaptation 1. The Old Man and His Handicraft

The old man, an elder of Palaw’an tribe, lives alone in his hut in an isolated part of Culasian in the southern part of Palawan in western Philippines. He subsists on what little yield he can get from a small parcel of land planted with cassava and kaingin (slash-and-burn farm) rice. While awaiting the fruits of his labor, he weaves handicrafts for a living.

This way of life went on for many years until, out of nowhere, a multitude of rats attacked his crops including those of his fellow Palaw’ans. This is the first time that this phenomenon occurred. Everyone suffered because they are living at subsistence level. Subsistence level means they only plant what they need and had nothing in store to feed themselves until next harvest.

One morning, a young tribesman happened to pass by the old man’s house. The young man uttered the usual greetings, but the old man did not respond. Probably he’s asleep, the tribesman thought. He went on his usual way to the mountains to gather whatever edible fruits he can find.

Late in the afternoon when the young man passed the same path again, he saw the old man in the same position he was in the morning. He sensed something was wrong. Curious, the young man came close to the old man sitting on the chair. And he discovered the old man was dead, still holding his handmade craft.

A few days ago, a neighbor said the old man complained of a lack of food just like everyone else who had nothing to harvest that season. To keep his hunger away, he resorted to working on his handicrafts to sell in the nearby village. But his effort proved futile because he died while trying to ebb the tide of hunger. He is no longer fit and strong as the younger members of his tribe to survive days without food.

Adaptation 2. Gleaning the Gleaned Farm

The old man’s adaptation strategy did not work but some of his fellow Palaw’ans survived through other means. One of these strategies is farm gleaning.

I discovered this adaptation strategy accidentally while walking a dirt road on the way back to the city located more than 200 km away. Looking for subjects to photograph in the rural setting, I noticed a family huddled close together next to a pile of rice straw. I took a shot to document the scene (see picture below).

gleaning

Initially, I thought the family owns the farm and were winnowing grains from their harvest. But when I asked Reden about it, he said those are indigenous people scavenging what was left of the lowlander’s harvest.

This is a pitiful sight because this scavenging activity reflects how poor these people are. Gleaning from what has already been gleaned is difficult.*

Discussion

The problem of global climate change lingers and affects all marginalized people especially those who rely on what nature provides.  Those engaged in subsistence farming or hand-to-mouth existence such as the Palaw’ans described in this article are most vulnerable. The severe effects on the food source of the Palaw’ans show how a shift in weather condition can have significant impacts to resource-dependent communities.

A subsistence way of life can have positive benefits to the environment because subsistence living means the least possible extraction of natural resources. This enables the forests and coastal regions to regenerate from minor disturbances inflicted by resource users.

The subsistence way of life, however, seems to be an inefficient response to the effects of climate change. There is a need for the indigenous people to modify their way of life to successfully cope up with the growing threats of global climate change. They need to produce more than what they actually need. This means a greater are of land for planting or more resource extraction activities.

Meanwhile, the scavenging activities show that the Palaw’ans are a resilient people able to survive the challenges of the times. For a minority group with low population, this adaptation would be sufficient to soften the impact of climate change.

These stories show that climate change can change the way of life of resource dependent people. It threatens the very survival of people who for generations lived compatibly with nature.

————

*I missed the rare opportunity to ask a few questions about what the Palaw’ans are doing while on the field. Their self-narrated story would have made this account more interesting. But this is a good lead for research on how indigenous people adapt to the effects of climate change.

I resolved to probe more during my next visit to the place as part of my job as the university extension director at that time but then my work assignment changed and I forgot all about it. This is a lesson that should always be borne in mind by a researcher and an old one at that: “Strike when the iron is hot.” The same opportunity may not come again so exert extra effort each time something interesting like this comes up.

© 2013 September 9 P. A. Regoniel

Household and Government Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change

Flooding has been a perennial problem in many countries. This is made worse by climate change. How do households and governments adapt to these events?

I could not access the internet for the past two days due to service interruption probably caused by the strong typhoon code named ‘Maring” and southwest moonsoon referred to as ‘Habagat’ by the locals. The heavy fall of rain inundated many parts of northern, central, and southern Luzon in the Philippines affecting many residents living in those areas. The rising tide and release of impounded water in large hydroelectric dams worsened flooding in areas where the waters flow.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the calamity affected more than 1.7 million people where 17 died, 41 got injured and 5 persons were missing[1]. Many of these people stayed in evacuation centers after the raging waters submerged their houses and damaged their belongings.

Significant changes may have been made to mitigate the effects of flooding because the death toll this week is lesser compared to that of Typhoon Ondoy or Ketsana in 2009 that caused the death of more than 300 persons[2]. Apparently, the people as well as the government may have learned to adapt from experience and prepare for such disasters which seem to get worse.

Climate change is believed to be the primary cause of typhoon severity in the past few years. Despite the controversies associated with climate change, I adopt the side of those practicing the precautionary principle, i.e., it is better to adopt a policy that addresses an environmental problem than having to suffer the consequences of not taking action. Thus, I incorporate climate change in the following subtitles on people and government’s adaptation to large-scale flooding as a result of climate change.

Household Adaptation to Climate Change

While hundreds of people frantically moved to evacuation centers in response to early warnings from NDRRMC, still many others stuck it in their homes saying they are already used to these events and had, in fact, undertaken measures to adapt and survive. Residents even enjoyed the storms, frolicking, jumping in waist deep waters, and laughing it out while taking certain precautions by wearing hard hats and life vests (see video).

Of course, their behavior exposes them to yet another danger, i.e., leptospirosis (a disease caused by water contaminated by excrements of rats or other animals), the possibility of raging waters once the nearby dam releases excess waters in the reservoir, alienation from nearby sources of food if rains continue, exposure to toxic substances that may go with the waters, among others.

Other household adaptations to flooding include adding second floors to homes, modified transportation vehicles, makeshift rafts, thigh high boots, plastic bottles connected together, airbeds deployed as rafts, rubber boats, among others. Many of these household level flood adaptations are inexpensive, largely makeshift, or temporary solutions to flooding.rubber boat

I have not seen a household flooding adaptation on the long-term such as a house on log I saw many years ago in a periodically flooded marsh of Agusan. Of course, having a log house in the middle of the city is absurd but I believe households can come up with long-term solutions to their problems. Relocation to elevated areas, after all, appears to be the best thing households can do. This may mean they will have to forgo their life in the urban centers and live in the hills.

Government Adaptation to Climate Change: Critique and Suggested Solutions

If communities cannot effectively  adapt to flooding, then the government must take steps to aid its citizens. Disaster relief operations always follow calamities like this. This approach, however, is at best palliative. Prevention is always a better approach than cure.

While flooding is a natural event, the government can still do something about it. It can be avoided or minimized to some extent by good environmental planning and action. Good planning and policy can prevent costly impacts of flooding.

In an effort to prevent the costly impact of typhoons, administrators and planners are looking into the contribution of poor drainage, indiscriminate throwing of non-biodegradable wastes as well as buildings that block waterways, and even corruption as unsolved problems that impact on effective flood management.

Poor drainage

Planners in government believe that making infrastructures that promote drainage can help alleviate the problem on flooding. Without incorporating ecological principles, however, this may just be a hit-and-miss approach.

In reality, there is a limit to what a good drainage system can do because Metro Manila was historically a marshland. Flooding is a natural process in wetlands. Cities built on wetlands destroyed a very important ecological function, i.e., flood control[3]. Nature must take its course and repeat the same process (i.e. flooding) when loaded with lots of rainfall. This requires environmental planning that accommodates the role of marshlands: clearing the waterways, leaving existing wetlands as it is, or developing subdivisions away from the natural courses of water.

This entails much cost but the benefits may be weighed against the costs. The impact of climate change appears to worsen each year and investments along this line can prevent future tragedies.

Indiscriminate throwing of wastes that block waterways

Blocked waterways reduces the speed by which water flows to low level areas. Tons of plastic or non-biodegradable wastes still clog the drains. This is made worse by buildings blocking the waterways. This means that in general, many of the citizens still do not adopt good practices in disposing their solid wastes, and city zoning policies are not being followed.

While an appeal to the public to stop them from throwing wastes indiscriminately may work, economic incentives in the form of fines, seems to be a better option. This also requires a vigorous information and dissemination campaign (IEC) to educate the people about the impact of their action to the environment and themselves.

Corruption

Corruption was factored in the flooding prevention equation because a sizable part of the 10 billion pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF (widely know as pork barrel funds) was diverted to questionable projects of non-existent non-government organizations (NGOs). Only a handful of corrupt officials benefited from such allocations through kickbacks and commissions of up to 45%[4]. A large amount of these funds were earmarked to fund flood control projects.

The government is hot on the heels of the culprits although there are evidences that this corrupt practice have been going on for decades despite rules, regulations and policies that aimed to lower the incidence of this age-old practice. Corruption has been culturally ingrained and became a ‘normal’ part of people’s lives since time immemorial.

A friend and I once brainstormed to find out the underlying cause of corruption. We created a problem tree and arrived at the root cause — GREED.

Thus, the solution to this problem lies at the very foundation of one’s value system. Change must come from within the person.

Conclusion

Successful adaptation to climate change entails effective responses at household or community levels backed by a supportive government. The nature of this adaptation could be short-term or long-term. Well-informed government policies on climate change adaptation strategies appears most critical in providing long-term solutions to avert tragic consequences.

References

1.   Reyes-Palanca, Z. (2013, August 23). ‘Maring’ leaves 17 dead, 41 injured. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top-stories/56739-maring-leaves-17-dead-41-injured

2. Agence France-Presse. (2009, October 9). Death toll from Ondoy rises to 337. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/10/09/09/death-toll-ondoy-rises-337

3. Novitzki, R., Smith, R., and J. D. Fretwell. Wetland functions, values, and assessment. Retrieved August 23, 2013, from http://water.usgs.gov/nwsum/WSP2425/functions.html

4. La Viña, T. (2013, August 6). Investigating the pork barrel scandal. Retrieved August 23, 2013 from http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/08/06/investigating-the-pork-barrel-scandal/

© 2013 August 23 P. A. Regoniel