Five Things Filipino Should Know About Climate Change

I received this article as a forwarded e-mail message from a concerned co-earthling. I think I should post it here as one of my simple acts for this planet.


"Don't run away from your problem," 10-year-old Xandrinne admonishes her playmates who hurriedly left their game to seek the intercession of a favorite relative. Eavesdropping, I marvel at the child's wisdom and maturity. How I wish the same could be said of our political leaders.

Politicians scrambled for the allocation of additional congressional districts (visualize added fat pork barrels) with the news of a galloping population growth. With overpopulation, poverty, pollution, and the fish and agriculture crisis hounding this nation, people expect their leaders to forget politics and instead craft stringent policies to lessen the repercussions on the limited and threatened resources, the economy and human development.

Despite a planetary emergency that is more serious than threats of terrorism, no one talks, even impliedly, about global warming, except perhaps the tourism secretary. Instead, and for the nth time, the highly irrelevant Charter change issue again springs to life. Don't you think it is high time we stopped making the Constitution the perennial scapegoat of our woes? Let us face our problems squarely. We are the problem.

Try asking what "climate change" or "global warming" is to a jeepney driver, farmer, your doctor, dentist, teacher or even your governor, mayor, councilor and barangay head. Chances are the answers will be as varied as the aberrations of our weather - from an honest "No, I do not know about it," to answers that are largely incoherent, uncertain or vague, to a smirk.

But ask the scientists, some lawyers and the students who watched Al
Gore's award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," or our citizens who learned about it from the Internet, and they will tell you that the climate crisis requires a drastic change in our attitude and behavior towards our natural life-support system. We have erroneously thought we "control nature," which, as Rachel Carson puts it, is a "phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man." Climate crisis shows that we are nothing without a healthy planet.

The European Union, some states of the United States of America, and even Bangladesh are leap years ahead in crafting mitigating solutions to this self-inflicted, human-made problem. Most Filipinos, including the leaders, do not have an idea what it is and the devastation that it brings to all the species, including Homo sapiens, especially those in low-lying areas and developing countries like ours.

I am guessing why our political leaders are silent about global warming gripping Gaia. First, facing it head on means giving up an addicting lifestyle of luxury and power. Second, they are stuck in a state of denial because an acknowledgment that we have caused or are causing the problem is painful. Third, our deeply ingrained "bahala na" attitude has become a part of our genetic makeup. Fourth, the constituents do not hold the leaders accountable for the widespread ecological devastation taking place, so - with such public passivity (or is it perennial state of forgiveness or amnesia?) - who cares? Fifth, thinking or learning about it requires such an effort. Perhaps mental arteriosclerosis has set in, for some, for the longest time? Sixth, the Rule of Law is painfully not in place.

If the landslides and flooding in Cebu have not disturbed our slumber yet, would the devastating cyclone that hit Myanmar (claiming hundreds of thousands of lives, displacing millions, and destroying billions of dollars worth of properties) finally awaken and propel us to action? The destruction could have happened here.

Filipinos should know that:

1. Climate change is a reality. The climate pattern has changed because of the increased temperature in our planet. Global warming can lead to "increased flooding, sea level rise, more frequent and more serious storms, worsening air quality, changing patterns of mosquito and tick-borne disease, degradation of food and water supplies and dangerous heat waves."

2. Climate change is caused by humans. Our lifestyles, habits and practices are the culprit. Vehicles, factories, offices, malls and homes consume energy that uses fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum and oil, which, in turn, emit polluting gases, like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These greenhouse gases trap the heat in the atmosphere and are responsible for the warming of the Earth, aside from causing serious health and life-threatening ailments, such as asthma, respiratory ailments and cancer.

3. Climate change affects all of us, and the worst victims are people in developing countries like the Philippines. Our country is the world's worst climate victim in 2006. A vast number of people live in low-lying cities and coasts. Trees in our vanishing forests cannot possibly absorb increased carbon dioxide emissions. We have to follow the Constitution, have a healthy environment, reduce carbon emissions, and mainstream renewable technology.

4. Climate change is an ethical, legal and political issue. Is it ethical to continue the use of the same polluting and carbon-emitting energy sources in an overheated planet when there are clean choices available that do not negatively impact the environment, like renewable and sustainable technology (solar, wind, geothermal), which should have been prioritized by our policymakers, as required by the Constitution and Republic Act 7638, the Department of Energy Act of 1992?

5. Climate crisis requires us to do our share and lessen our ecological footprints. We reduce carbon emissions in our homes, work places, community and our planet by making smart daily choices. Carpool, bike, walk, have car less days. If you can afford it, buy hybrid cars and install solar, wind power. Turn off lights and appliances when not being used. Eat home grown organic vegetables and fruits. Have rainwater catchments. Do away with disposables. Bring bayong and say "No" to Plastic bags. Reduce and segregate waste. Write policymakers to prioritize the environment. Demand full disclosure of government transactions. Vote for green-minded politicians. Use the tools for public accountability - recall, initiative, referendum and citizen's suit - for a healthier environment. Help in the education campaign. Enforce the largely unenforced environmental laws.

The challenges are enormous but we must take them on, right? Xandrinne and her generation will just be too happy if we do. We owe that to them, actually.

By Gloria Ramos
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 15:41:00 05/12/2008


The recent evidence Of climate change here in Manila is the flash flood that affects many families in Bagong Silangan Quezon City, few days ago. We do not need more evidences of climate change that sacrifice lives and livelihood. We really should act now! We can start by doing simple things for this planet. It is smart to base our everyday decisions in purchases, consumptions, investments, marriages, etc to the worsening climate.

I know it is now a big task to return the balance of this devastated, abused planet. Nevertheless, let us do our share as our rent for living in here. Let us do our share as our legacy to the generations next to ours.


Eugene said...

A well-written article. We would like to seek your approval to post this on our AsiaIsGreen website at www.asiaisgreen.com (would include a link back to your blog).
We would also like to invite you to be our Guest Writer, more details at http://www.asiaisgreen.com/2008/04/28/guest-writers/. Thanks.


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Erica said...

Similar to what Eugene said before... this is an exquisite article, as well as many others you've posted. My site HolisticAsia is currently running a campaign to unify small resource websites, blogs, and contributors to the health and wellness in Asian communities. We just recently expanded from dealing with just the Hong Kong area to areas abroad. I came across
your site and thought you have a wonderful personal development that you could share and promote with others within the community.

Would you be interested in contributing to our site as well? I've enjoyed a lot of your posts so I wanted to leave it up to you.

Please let me know of whether we can collaborate and link together.

Thank you for your wonderful spirit and consideration,

ivr said...

Thanks for the nice comment Erica.

Please let me know how can I submit my contributions to your website.

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