Everyone’s Responsibility

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TWO YEARS ago, we launched the Glad to be Green project in Baguio by installing 14 solar powered lamp posts along the perimeter of the Baguio Cathedral. We had hoped that by that undertaking, the project would motivate institutions and establishments in the city to shift to clean and renewable energy at zero cost to the owners. Consequently, the barangays would be encouraged to link up with a solar farm on cooperative effort, hopefully with the city government and the barangays harnessing their respective local resources for solar farm setting up and maintenance.

Looking back, it would seem that not much progress has been achieved in that direction. Business and household practices remain rooted on traditional patterns of energy production and consumption. Replicate this situation region and nationwide and we can readily discern continued reliance on unsustainable habits born out of misunderstood and ill-appreciated concerns unserved by petty inaction.

Climate change issues remain essentially unchallenged. National and local leaders appear more engaged on matters that are here and now, rather than on what lies ahead and what can be done to alleviate mankind’s greater scourge.

The global response to a world leader’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord reflects grave disappointment unparalleled throughout the historical episodes that mankind had to contend with climate change. Captains of industry, corporations, business groups joined voices with science and academe heads in expressing frustration over the US President’s decision to trump what had taken over two decades of global consensus to act resolutely on greenhouse gas emissions through specifically identified targets and established benchmarks on adaptation and finance.

So where do we go from here? Echoing responsible responses worldwide, do we just sit on our behinds and watch climate change sweep across the nations and peoples, including vulnerable environments such as ours, having to deal with extreme weather events that we have been experiencing in recent years? Can we do something locally that may represent a million or billion-fold global response?

In our archipelagic country alone, 64 coastal provinces, 822 coastal towns, 25 major coastal cities and about 13.6 million Filipinos are threatened by sea level rise resulting from global warming. We who live in Baguio are among highland populations annually challenged by unprecedented landslides and forest denudation during now-normal super typhoons. One man’s exit from climate change responsibilities is just one man acting on his own, if we manifest a collective responsibility to do it on our own for our own survival. Clearly, what one man opts to do can be reversed by the shared effort of everyone across the globe.

After all, saving the planet, and making it a great homeland for everyone, is everyone’s responsibility, a major concern of right-thinking individuals. Doing what is right is what matters.

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