A month and a week from now, we’d be bidding farewell to a year that was, and be in a face-off with another year, as usual hopeful it would be better than the last, better than the rest. Samuel has just exited the country’s southern parts enroute to Vietnam, and thanks God, nothing super-bad has taken place to add further misery to a nation troubled and besieged all year. Luck of luck, we have been spared that kind of a universal wrath that has brought peoples of all ages and class distinctions to their knees, the more recent of which are the California wildfires which have been the deadliest in that state’s recorded history. Here we are still on bated breath, as we await 2-4 more weather aberrations visiting our archipelagic isles. Enough of tragedies, we implore the heavens.
And yet, another extremism may well have caught us up all year through, the kind that has terrified our leaders to feel fearful, anxious, and on edge, given the face-to-face reality staring them, enough to place an entire Philippine island on the grip of an extended martial rule. Fact is, we can only wish that the extremism we’re seeing swirling all over this dear planet of ours, courtesy of the changing climes, would also give our own leaders everywhere else the same aggressive stance in meeting Mother Nature’s extreme weather behavior, something too important but scantily taken for granted all these years. The environmental afflictions we’ve had verily listed up fatalities by the hundreds, as Itogon and Natonin became household names in the course of the heart-wrenching retrieval operations that went on week by week.
Right here in our midst, netizens have become more attuned to things and people that ignite our prurient sense, than on issues that should be harnessing our collective attention towards our environment, our very lifeline into the future. Nature has already been on fight-back mood in recent years. When it’s hot, it’s very hot and deadly; on rainy days, floods recur in a matter of minutes, inundating everything on its lethal path. In many parts of the world, erratic weather patterns have been recurring, causing subtropical deserts to expand and arctic glaciers to melt. Sea temperatures have been quickly on the rise, causing last year to record the hottest in nearly a century.
Except for a few angry voices, everyone’s attention would seem to be on the here and now —the horrendous traffic snarls in the usual choke points that emerge every now and then. We all know that climate change has long been here and now, has long been the new normal. Yet, we seem not concerned about it. Last heard, our LGU has not applied for a share of the Climate Change Fund that the Paris agreement has forged as assistance to countries deemed to be among the most vulnerable. And the Philippines is just about up there in the totem pole of the most susceptible of them all. Last heard, the country aid is about 300 million USD that has been there for us to avail, but to no avail.
The good news is it’s there for us to use. The bad news is we haven’t figured out till now which government office should be entrusted as funding source for stricken communities, like Natonin in Mountain Province and Itogon in Benguet, and of course even our dear ol’ city, if we consider that much of our humanly settled places are in geo-hazard risk areas. Think of how much that kind of money can bring techno wonders in holding off perilous mountain sides from giving way to torrents of rainwater.
Two months back, in fact we had a scary reminder of what landslides can do, something that we have been having back in the decades of the 80s and the 90s. At the slightest downpour, the mountain soil loosens up. Estero banks get whiplashed, triggering floods all over, not even sparing downtown area. That 2-4 storms are headed our way should serve to warn us of nature’s threat. But no, we’d rather be going nuts over traffic jams, we’d rather go bananas over a carnival park right in the very heart of a crowd-luring place like a mall. Anyone in charge of our precious but growingly fragile environment?
At the end of the day, the end of days will come swiftly than expected, if we don’t change our wicked ways, if we don’t pay heed to the monumental issues that govern life in this only planetary home we have, if we don’t regard the environment as something sacred to value and cherish for generations next, if we don’t adapt to nature’s way in the only right way we can. That means walking the extra mile, physically and figuratively. That means de-carbonizing our life styles, to give Mother Nature the respite it needs from all the polluting gas emissions we’ve been irresponsibly ejecting into the atmosphere.
Governments may have a Paris accord to guide their ways. 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, who must singly and collectively do something concrete and positive, something that can be done by sheer will power and determination, something that gives Planet Earth enough time to recuperate from the centuries-old wounds we have ourselves inflicted without remorse, without letup.
Let’s scream that out once more: without remorse, without letup, without a conscience to bother us much.