FOR TWO WEEKS running now, we’ve been treated to images of very bad weather in sheer extremities. First Harvey, then Irma. Not far behind, Jose. Three powerful, ferocious Hurricanes aborn from the Atlantic Ocean. What’s happening to dear ol’ Earth? Even as we write this, the populace along the deadly path, especially on the Caribbean islands, and in a matter of hours, Southern Florida in mighty USA, are on deadly tenterhooks. They have been battered and besieged by howling winds and torrential rains like no other.
Again, it’s all about Mother Nature seemingly gone haywire, behaving rather harshly as if in reciprocal response to what has been inflicted on her for many abusive decades. Harvey may have started it all a week ago, pounding Texas to submission by floodwaters from continuously pelting rains in its swath of devastation. First-hand accounts indicate that about one million gallons of water have been dumped, “a soggy, record-breaking glimpse of the wet and wild future global warming could bring,” said the weather scientists.
Already, there’s been determined from scientifically accepted traces that the wild weather event has the fingerprints of man-made climate change. “We’re seeing that future storms — Irma and now Jose — will dump much more rain than the same size storms did in the past,” the scientists assert, emphasizing that “the reason is plain and clear: that’s because warmer air holds more water, and global warming means warmer seas, and warm water is what fuels hurricanes of Harvey’s magnitude.”
Barely a week after Category Four Harvey struck, Category Five Irma slammed into the Carribean islands, pummeling Barbuda. As it barreled its way across, ferocious winds and towering coastal surges pounded on shoreline communities with winds gusting up to 295 kph, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center reported just yesterday. Irma could just be the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. It is now headed in a northwest direction past the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, past Cuba and into Florida, USA, perhaps even arching towards Georgia and the Carolina states.
Right here and now, the Philippines has been experiencing nature’s temper tantrums in comparatively less extreme conditions. Earthquakes have been relatively less lethal. When the earth shakes up, it does so in mighty heaves. As for our lingering climes, when the weather turns hot, it’s just very hot; on rainy days, floods occur in a matter of minutes, submerging everything on its path. Archipelagic as our country is, coastal areas are shedding portions of shorelines. These past days, Northern Luzon has been on the stormy path.
Right here and now, we in Baguio have not been spared of the changing climes. At the slightest downpour, our own mountain soil loosens up; estero banks get whiplashed; erosion takes place in alarming regularity. We expect more weather aberrations in the coming weeks, all the way till November. One thing stands out though: all we can do is equip ourselves with the best possible safety attitudes. Braving the odds has become the norm, given our bias towards the last-minute gasp for survival.
We reiterate our previous admonitions, while time remains on our side. We all know that climate extremes are the new normal, why Mother Earth has gone on a misbehaving mode all these years. Rather than grinning and bearing it up, like hotheads and disbelievers do, we must take serious heed of what the learned men and women of science have been warning us. There is global warming because we have been spewing into the atmosphere the lethal gases that pollute the earth, gases like carbon dioxide, methane, etc. Since 1750, human activities have accordingly been generating a 40% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide alone in the atmosphere, resulting from combustion of fossil fuel principally coal, oil, natural gas, along with deforestation, soil erosion and animal agriculture.
Clearly, we need to be in concert with each other. We must abandon our wanton ways and seriously use alternative, cleaner sources of energy. That way, we can better serve as responsible stewards of our planetary home. We should bring down the level of massive pollution now afflicting the world, beginning with the first step of stepping out into the world on our own two feet. We have to reduce strategically the greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere simply by going green in our energy ways. Global pressure from all of us must be relentlessly applied on the world’s leading polluters (like the United States and China) to show the way in arresting climate change. After all, they are the principal cause of what we’ve been experiencing as peoples dependent on leaders.
Harvey, Irma, and Jose are not just names of mere weather disturbances; they are generators of tragedy of unspeakable proportions. We now need to balance off what these heavy-hitting countries have been recklessly doing without regard to the monumental mistakes committed in the name of economic might. As individuals, this means accepting a shared effort in the global responsibility of ensuring that the next generation of inhabitants will have something of value to hand over to the next. After all, greenhouse gas emissions have been part of our common activities in life, from the motor engines we rev up to the machine industries we hum to the aging trees we topple down.
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 act locally as our global response beyond the borders of our self-serving attitudes, beyond the barriers that greed may impose.
To emphasize: it is simply doing the right thing since it is only the right thing to do.