Every now and then, we’d use the chance to underscore how important, how essential, and how relevant it is for leaders and peoples to walk the talk ad get down to brass tacks whenever the issue of environmental care is raised. Let’s face it, all it takes is looking at what we’ve been committed, as humans enjoying what is left of a fast-depleting environmental resource, and what we’re doing to alleviate us from the very scourge that has now been upon us for decades now.
In recent years, in fact, the Philippines has become one of the world’s most vulnerable places in so far as the adverse effects of climate change is concerned. Yolanda, and before that Ondoy, are telling testaments to what damage and destruction can be inflicted in affected areas, and the disaster that arises in the aftermath. Being archipelagic is bad enough. Being right in the midst of the Pacific Ring of Fire makes our geographic location even worse.
In recent months, the place we call home, Baguio, has experienced what climate change is all about. In just a day’s happenstance, Itogon and Natonin became signature names for the landslide disaster that struck our hapless region. Downtown Baguio got flooded, and for lowlanders quick to make a weekend visit up here, that event is difficult to comprehend, given our elevated geographical position, given our being the only city anywhere else that’s nearest the skies.
Which makes us wonder: Are we cooling the earth’s heating atmosphere, amid the rising temperatures that’s been scalding us, from all directions? The California wildfires, said to be the deadliest in modern history, gives us the grimmest reminder that we’re losing out fast in this race to calm and cool down a changing climatic pattern. The weather extremes hitting many places, even the unlikeliest ones, offers another telling sad narrative over how humans like you and I have become so vulnerable.
Every now and then, moderate to strong magnitude shakers have been hitting our archipelago in recent months. Even puny storms, the likes of Ompong and Rosita,Yolanda, have been crossing over north and south of the country in seeming regularity, testing the very limits of human endurance that folks of lower means are so prone to succumbing. Certainly not in the magnitude and scale of Yolanda, these small weather disturbances left behind a swathe of destruction beyond compare just the same, no doubt from relentless rains that loosened up mountain soil and triggered deadly landslides.
Indeed, the new normal in earth-shakers and powerful weather aberrations has become more and more intense, the forthcoming more furious than the last. This has become the common weather experience — just too fast to develop and too furious to contend with. Again, it’s all about Mother Nature’s extreme behavior, and what we’ve been all taking recklessly for granted all these years. But, then again, we’ve been having this kind of events since way back when. As savants have been remind us, globally, these are weather temper tantrums erupting in utterly extreme conditions, in a relentless fight-back that Mother Nature has been unleashing in erratically worsening form and shape.
When the earth shakes up, it does so not just in mighty heaves, but in suddenly deadly fits and turns. When the weather turns hot, it’s become lethally scalding. When it rains, they come in torrential force, whipped up by lashing winds like no other.
In a country as peculiarly situated as we are, climate change will simply cause coastal areas to shed portions of shorelines, throwing in helter-skelter movement our compatriots who live in these threatened places. Even now, we are witnessing erratic weather patterns taking place in alarming regularity. Subtropical deserts are expanding; arctic glaciers are melting down. Scaling down carbon emissions — singly and collectively as no less embedded like being etched on stone in the Paris agreement on climate change — is the only sensible thing to do. And that is simply because it is the only right thing to do.
This year being an election year, it should do well for voters to look into every candidate’s record and get him up-close for an honest appraisal of where he stands in so far as environmental protection and preservation are concerned. Sadly, not much is happening in that regard; disappointingly, environmental agenda appears to be waylaid in favor of the gut issues, or things that worry more — food on the table, roof on our head, clothing on our back, and everything else about the human anatomy.
Shouldn’t we talk about how we can put to a final halt all that’s been abusing our fragile environment, since way, way back? Shouldn’t we be arguing just what kind of programs should be done, and done fast, to make our environmental resources grow in green luster again? And since we’re at it, Mr. and Ms. Candidate, how about telling us straight to our faces: Are you in favor of rehabilitating Baguio, and in what way? Do tell us so we’d know how good or bad your program is, how doable or impossible what you intend, and how far enough your mouth is from your heart.
To reiterate what our task is: bring down the level of massive pollution now afflicting the world. This means reducing strategically the greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere. This means putting in place a strategic policy to reverse our energy use from coal to alternative energy sources. This means removing the incentives that firm up our over-reliance on coal as principal source of our energy use. This means adding up our voice, no matter how tiny, to the global pressure for the world’s leading polluters to walk their talk.
True, governments may have a Paris accord to guide their ways. (The US government’s withdrawal may have been a great letdown, but that’s just one man’s folly). Leaders may demonstrate resolve in ensuring that nations will abide by iron-clad agreements. But, in the end, it is people — yes, you and I and the rest of all us — who must do its share, even at the cost of the most extreme of sacrifices to keep Planet Earth a worthy hand-over liberated from the clutches of fossil fuel, free enough to use alternative clean energy sources with less pollutive effects to the global atmosphere, free enough go beyond the borders of our self-serving attitudes, free enough to break the barriers that greed has imposed.
Yes, start to walk the talk. Otherwise, we can just walk on by and walk it out from you.