Sweating It Out


HEAT IS WHAT’S been hitting us these past weeks running.

We’re supposed to globally reduce greenhouse gas emissions that the world’s polluters have recklessly been ejecting into the atmosphere since way, way back. As fate has willed, the entire world had its fingers pointed at the United States and China as the major contributors for the lethal pollution inflicted globally for many, many decades now. Yes, both countries have long been at the apex of global pollution, their combined gas output accounting for much of what everybody else has been insufferably experiencing.

This is why the Paris accord on climate change just years back has brought together practically all nations across the globe, including the polluters themselves, purposely to come to a final deal. Either we bring down greenhouse gas emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius, or we bring Mother Earth to plain smithereens in just a few decades.

The reason draws from what scientists the world over have been warning us. Greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere absorbs and emits radiation. Since the year 1750, man has produced a 40% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels principally coal, oil, natural gas along with deforestation, soil erosion, and animal agriculture.

In brief, what everyone has been enduring these recent years, simply termed as global warming, is causing indescribable havoc to our ecosystem biodiversity, putting at grave risk not just the economic livelihood of people worldwide, but the very survival of humankind.

In fact, we have repeatedly been warned to hold in check our carbon dioxide emissions; otherwise, we will continue to experience in greater intensity and ferociousness the effects of global warming that comes from unchecked greenhouse gas emissions ejected continually from coal-fueled economic activities.

Sea levels are rising, threatening to erode islands and coastal areas. Dear Philippines is even now ranked among the most vulnerable in the world. Subtropical deserts are expanding. Arctic glaciers are beginning to melt down and are expected to ultimately disappear. Extreme weather events have become the new normal — heat wave, droughts, heavy rainfall with floods, heavy snowfall, killer-quakes whose strength has been suddenly on the rise.

In a recently published study by the journal Science Advances on a strategic part of the world, it was determined that South Asia where one-fifth of the world’s population live (including us here in miniscule Philippines), that heat has been on the upward climb Humidity is way up, rising to perilously threatening levels. The study warns us that South Asia may be facing in a few decades “summer heat waves with levels of heat and humidity that exceed what humans can survive without protection.” That simply means it will irreversibly happen if greenhouse gas emissions into the global atmosphere remain recklessly unchecked, remain irresponsibly ejected out of economic necessity.

This finding validates without question what scientists the world over have been telling us with fearsome certainty if the present level of greenhouse gas emissions continues. Accordingly, by 2047, the earth’s surface temperature would have reached a level predicted to push ocean levels further up, heat up temperatures beyond survival levels, and bring mankind to an irreversible fate: annihilation and extinction. Yes, that year is 2047, a mere 30 years from now!

Now that we’re hosting the ASEAN Summit, bringing together either in bilateral nation-to-nation meetings or through a collective face-to-face encounter, it should do well for regional leaders to remind the world’s polluters about their share of the global task to bring down the heat to safer levels.

Despite President Trump’s unilateral decision to back off from the global accord, for which he has been severely criticized worldwide, there should be added pressure from ASEAN leaders, including China, Japan and South Korea, to make him get back to where he has blithely backed off. There is no other way but back to the global accord. This much we should expect from them, including our own tough-talking PRRD. As host, he should be able to hoist this with the same fervor he has on issues dearest in his heart.

As repeatedly conveyed in stark simplicity many columns back, the Paris agreement represents a huge global effort by every nation to minimize man’s own folly all throughout the ages. Singly and collectively, we have the task to do our share by the simple ways that can be done right here and now. You and I and the rest of us are no longer bystanders when it comes to climate change. If we don’t take care of nature, it won’t take care of us, all of us. If we don’t work to manage our future well, if we don’t drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels through an energy mix of clean, unpolluting sources, if we don’t take the business of environmental cleanup seriously, nobody else will.

Getting heated up now to do our shared effort is better than getting boiled over later. The finest self-sacrifice we can all do is to sweating it out now to give Mother Earth a rare chance of cooling down, even bit by bit. It is the right thing to do.