(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, October 07, 2015
WELL, after a nice and hot morning in the island of Mactan in Cebu the rains finally fell. It is raining cats and dogs on the island under the sun.
All of a sudden, things go to a stand-still. How the rain can change people’s lives. What more the lack of water, the source of all life.
It is an El Niño year predicted to be one of the worse on record.
It is predicted to last until April of next year. We have not really experienced its wrath yet as it is said to peak in October but we can feel its manifestation. Imagine an El-Niño year and we will be rationing water by next week. What will happen to our farmers and people. We will not have food and water. What will happen to the ocean’s bounty as the temperatures rise and fish kills come?
It is said that the West Philippine Sea, yes our Spratly islands and the Kalayaan Island Group are said to be so rich in marine life that over 300 million people remain dependent on it Yet, China has stopped us and other claimants from fishing its bounty.
Let’s declare it as an International Peace Marine Park. Part of the Global commons so we will have peace in Asia and a reservoir of the rich marine resources. It is the only thing to do to attain peace and food security in the South China Sea.
That phrase in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar becomes so true today as it was then.
There will be poor always pathetically struggling look at the good things you’ve got”.
This is true for TNC – Transnational Corporations and Oligopolies as well as players who are blinded by greed and power.
I say let them eat their deflated dollar and have raped us enough. They have gotten more from the earth and left it in the verge of an ecological disaster.
The economic model must change. Frankly, the resent APEC summit will not change the destructive development model. They will abuse it further.
The planet has changed and we are its victims.
As I write this California is on fire and a state of emergency has been declared. Well, for that matter the entire planet is on fire. And the COP 21 is just a few weeks away.
We must act now or forever face the consequences.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Staying in front of the sea and breathing the fresh salt air rejuvenates anyone.
A view of the ocean and the coconut trees that line the beach can extend a life and make one stronger.
Just being there where the air, water, the trees and nature abound is wellness at its best. And the silence can be so soothing. You cannot put a value on this nor quantify it.
It is worth more than our Gross National Product. More than our exports and balance of trade. More than all the money printed in the Central Bank.
The problem is once gone, they are gone forever.
This must be stopped.
I am now in such a place. So clean and so rejuvenating. Full of bliss. Far away from the maddening crowd of Manila and the traffic of EDSA and the filth of overdeveloped Metro-Manila.
There are very few places left such as these. Mostly in the islands and remote places. How long will they be there? I don’t know, perhaps not very long.
We all need to be in a place such as this, to de-stress and recharge. To reflect and advance with resolve.
We all need time alone. We need sanctuaries – many of them. Both marine and terrestrial. But a pristine environment with abundant seas and forest biodiversity is worth more than all the gold, copper and metals that they extract form our beautiful land. These places – beautiful places. Our home and planet – are worth dying for.
Yet, our leaders continue their ways and mine our country dead. It was reported that the government has expanded the mining area to over a million hectares from Luzon to Mindanao. Mining in Mindanao comprising four provinces will wreck havoc on what was once our last frontier.
Why we are doing this when the gestation period of mining is so long? When the price of all metals and commodities are in an all time low? When the price of oil has never been lower? When demand for the metals have NO takers? Just look at Glencoe and Xstrata – the largest commodity company in the world. They are riddled with debt of over 30 billion dollars and their stock has gone down by 70% percent.
There will be more Arab springs and
yes the war for resources has began. And it will get
bloodier as more Arab springs come to life.
And what is the COP 21 doing? Still negotiating? For crying out loud. Just slam on the brakes on emissions and green house gases. Sequester the carbon dioxide and save our dying planet.
It seems that the United Nations is losing its vision and clout. It used to be more pro-active. A unifier and a solutions organization. Today it has made people unhappy for it has become a weak organization with no political will. It’s like it has been infiltrated by corporations and Transnational Corporation.
WE CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH. THE TIME FOR
SHOUTING IS OVER.
WE NEED TO ACT WITH RESOLVE.
Time alone sometimes is essential to strengthen our resolve and move forward.
We don’t have the luxury of time. Our pristine places of wellness will soon go. Our planet and civilization will perish and for what. MONEY?
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, Sep 23, 2015
WE have been through the trauma that happened in EDSA. The traffic and the rains.
The billions of pesos wasted on time, money, oil and health.
The rains just came – we did not have a typhoon or a low pressure area.
The rains came and poured heavily due to the extreme heat, precipitation and humidity, Darkness came at the height of the day.
The climate is changing and there are still many who do not care about the effects of global warming and climate change.
Already, the effects have cut down our agricultural yields. We will have a poor harvest for all our agricultural produce.
Our people will continue to suffer and poverty will continue to grow.
The price of food and water has gone up and supply has declined.
What is worse is that water – the source of all life – will be rationed next week.
The levels of our dams have gone very low.
Imagine: with the consisted heavy rains, our dams and water supply continue to decline.
The heat rapidly evaporates the water.
This also means that the little forests we have left cannot store the rainwater and the thus comes down in the form of a devastating flash flood.
Flash floods destroy our communities and kill our people.
They erode our top soil, making our land dry and not suitable for farming as all the nutrients are washed away.
Despite all these manifestations, we continue to overdevelop Metro-Manila and leave no more open spaces.
Urban planning is essential and sadly it is not being done properly.
Every city needs open spaces to balance the over development.
Why have government and the private sector allowed this uncontrolled over development?
As I write this, Japan has been hit by devastating floods and typhoons.
No one is spared – the entire planet is being scourged by the wrath of nature.
The UNFCC COP 21 in Paris barely two months away is being prepared and many are expecting nothing concrete to happen.
There will be no binding agreements to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Sadly, the old development model is still being followed and the rape of our biodiversity is moving faster than ever.
Despite the global economic slowdown that in many ways has reduced development and pollution the model and the private
sector continue their destructive ways.
Carbon dioxide has breached the 400 ppm parts per million and continues to rise.
Our forests and oceans, both critical to life and sequestering the carbon dioxide, are being cut and polluted.
Our seas are victims of ocean acidification and the number of dead zones continues to rise.
What is the problem with our leaders? Don’t they know that climate change must be beaten? The Pope’s encyclical and the pronouncements of many have not changed their attitude.
Alas, we have so many Arab springs, conflicts and wars for resources and worse we have refugees fleeing their countries.
We cannot continue this way.
THE TIME TO CHANGE IS RUNNING OUT. WE ARE AT THE TIPPING POINT AND CONSERVATION IS NOT A GAME NOR A BUSINESS.
We must do what we need to do to win this war against climate change, at all costs.
LET US STOP THE DARKNESS OF DESTRUCTION AND TURN IT INTO LIGHT AND LIFE.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, Sep 2, 2015
AT IUCN Regional Conservation forum’s first day, new topics have been brought forth.
For one: they want to introduce offsets e.g. the developers could destroy a coral colony or a forest and then offset it by planting and reforesting a forest and building coral colony or mangrove forest.
Hey: don’t they know that coral reefs and mangrove forest are the beginning of the marine food chain and once destroyed they are gone forever?
An artificial reef cannot replace an original coral colony.
We are fortunate enough to be in the center of the Coral Triangle and there is no way we will allow destruction of reefs.
Our people and those along the coast rely on the seas bounty for their food and livelihood. It takes years for coral to grow a centimeter.
We cannot allow them to destroy these ecosystems and offset them with new ones.
Mangrove forests start the marine food chain. Like forests, they serve as carbon sinks and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide. They also serve as protection from typhoons due to climate change.
Our forests have been logged over the death and almost all our pristine forest covers are gone. Yet they continue to be destroyed. All these habitats and ecosystems – from the oceans to terrestrial areas – sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide which has breached the 400 ppm threshold.
We must register our NO to offset for if approved during next years at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, such offsets will become IUCN policy and can be used by the Union to rubber stamp development projects.
Seven out of ten disaster areas are in Asia where 800,000 people live below the poverty line.
Deforestation of our forests and the introduction of alien invasive species are the top destroyers of our biodiversity.
Five of our countries are mega-diverse countries and eight areas out of the world’s 35 areas are mega-biodiversity hot spots. 95 percent of Southeast Asian coral reefs are at risk.
We must stand up against all this destruction.
It has become more evident that the private sector particularly the extractive industries are the main destroyers of our biodiversity and our planet.
Offsets are like Carbon Development Mechanisms – they merely pass the buck to someone else to pollute our environment and emit greenhouse gases.
We need to combat climate change with real action and reduce GHG as well as enhance our ecosystems.
The EIA system is good enough and it is a law in our country.
We have been planting mangrove forests in Negros and in many parts of the country.
We have protected the remaining ones.
To recover from the damage done by super typhoon Yolanda, we have escalated the planting of mangrove forest and will continue to do so.
The IUCN flagship project today is planting mangroves dubbed Mangroves for the Future.
The Thailand government has a very good mangrove program – Ms. Suprance Kamponguan made a very good presentation on how they go about mangrove polyculture organic farming.
We support this endeavour.
We need to enhance our forests and marine ecosystems to combat global warming and climate change and we need to heed and follow Pope Francis encyclical.
If IUCN has Red list for species in danger, we need to have a BLACK list for polluters.
We need to fight and win the war against climate change.
We are still at the tipping point, the turning point has yet to be realized.
With so many COPs and conference, atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to breach the 400 plus ppm level.
WE NEED REAL ACTION.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, August 27, 2015
FLYING out of the Philippines where monsoon rains have flooded many parts of the country after the last typhoon that spared us but gave us heavy monsoon rains, I was headed for Bangkok to attend the IUCN Asian Regional Forum – the 6th since 1998 in Kota Kinabalu, New Delhi in 2000, Sri-Lanka in 2003, in Nepal in 2007, and in Korea in 2011.
These Asian Regional Forums bring in together the members of IUCN – The World Conservation Union.
We have attended all Regional Conservation Forums and all the World Conservation Congresses that happen a year after. The next World Conservation Congress will be held next year – 2016 – in Hawaii, a place that has announced that it would be 100 percent renewable energy soon.
I have had the honor and privilege to serve as an elected councilor from 1996 (The first World Conservation Congress) when it was then General Assembly and was re-elected again in the 2nd World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan in 2000.
During the Amman Congress, we filed a resolution making the Spratly islands an international marine peace park, only to withdraw it in Plenary session with the promise of China to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with us on its conservation.
Sadly, China has occupied the islands and the issue is now in the International courts. What time and words of truth can do!
During my last term in 2004, we at the Ecological Society of the Philippines sponsored a resolution calling on a Moratorium on any Further Release of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) until proven safe to Biodiversity, Human and Animal Health and it was adopted by the Union, winning both the government and NGO houses.
As we enter the airspace of Thailand, we could see the siltation in the rivers, with the brownish color of top soil all over, As I write this, Myanmar is under a state of calamity as monsoon rains devastated the country. This is the same in China and all over Asia. And yes, the monsoon season has just begun.
The weather patterns have indeed changed for the worse. One cannot forecast the weather as we used to. Farmers cannot plan their crops and yes crop yields have dramatically hone down and will continue to do so.
Food security is at risk as food has become scarce and the costs have been rising. Poverty continues to grow and our biodiversity continues to get destroyed.
Back home, our banana exports have gone down by 60 percent due to the EL Niño phenomenon which is said to be more pronounced by October.
This El Niño phenomenon goes from both wides of the Pacific ocean and the rest of the world where temperatures from the sea rise and bring forth hot and severe weather.
In California, the severe drought has lasted more than six years and has forces the state to ration water. This has a very big impact for the state as it is so rich with agriculture. The water that they use just for growing almonds consumes over 10 percent. What more their citrus and cattle industries?
We fear that the days of a water shortage will come sooner than expected and, mind you, it will not only be in California but a global issue. Some friends from Bangladesh told us that they are flooded with water everywhere but too little potable water to drink. Imagine that!
We cannot understand that after Pope Francis encyclical letter on care for our common home, Laudato Si, where be strongly calls on the rich and the leaders to change their economic/development models, to be less wasteful and yes, to get out of fossil fuels to combat global warming and climate change.
There are still many who do not believe in climate change! There are even those who think that we need carbon dioxide to breathe! These are captains and leaders of industry who are supposed to be more educated than the rest. Apparently, they are as inutile and still moved by greed and lust for more money and material wealth.
What is worse is that the whole world is getting out of coal and our own government has put up six coal fired plants. We do not understand this move at all.
Meanwhile, Denmark uses wind power to power 140 percent of their needs and Germany vows to do it all with renewable energy.
No less than President Obama has called for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Frankly, we find this too little and too late.
The Dutch courts have ordered their government for a reduction of 25 percent from 1990 levels. Which is much better. Just last week at the Asian Development Bank Forum in Manila, Jeffrey Sachs told the gathering of businessmen that we have to decarbonize now in order to meet the 2 degrees increase. Here is the link: http://www.business-mirror.come.ph/jeffrey-sachs-to-adb-stop-funding-coal-power-projects/.
Frankly, we should not wait for the COP 21 in Paris. We should do the reductions today. Or face the consequences. I hope this forum will speed up the process and make IUCN take the lead and save our planet.
If not, then the Union will be like the United Nations COPs. Losing out to donors and the extractive industries and staying the course of fossil fuels and allowing our planet and people to perish.
THIS WE CANNOT ALLOW! THE EARTH IS CRYING FOR HELP, AND SO ARE WE!
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, July 27, 2015
WELL, what can I say? The Financial Times Today reported that a document will be ready for the COP 21 when it meets in Paris in December.
The report states that diplomats are making more progress as they make more disclosures in public.
They do not want a repeat of what happened at the last COP 20: A disaster.
The report states that the French document was prepared for a two day Paris meeting of ministers representing more than 60 countries including the EU aimed at sharpening the UN negotiations.
We have heard this countless times and have our misgivings and doubts.
While the imitative is good, what we need is real action on how to cut down emissions.
That’s not very hard to do if the political will is really there.
While the US is suffering from its worse droughts and water shortages and effects on water, the human population and the planet are suffering.
The temperatures have been in record highs in many places, destroying agricultural produce.
Even the wine and the weather and the extreme heat have affected the brewers.
The Financial Times reported that the State of Washington’s Yakima Valley – the top producter of “Aroma” hops used to flavour craft beers – experienced sustained temperatures of over 100 degrees over the last month.
The extreme heat comes at a time when producers are increasing the acreage of aroma hops to satisfy demand.
Worse still are the food yields and basis for consumption – rice and corn, wheat and just something to put in our plates.
What kind of mindset do these people have? How many more COPs do we need? How many more record droughts, flash floods and super typhoons must we have?
Let’s face it – we are being taken for a ride by greed and corporate polluters.
How many more people must die? Before a simple agreement to reduce GHG is made?
With the entire world talking about global warming and climate change, what in heaven’s name are they negotiating for?
More money? Greece is bankrupt. Arab springs are flourishing like mushrooms amidst the worse climatic weather our planet has ever experienced.
We are mad and we cannot remain silent. Our voices must be heard loudly and we demand climate justice. We demand our right to live.
The time may be too late and yes, we do blame the slowness of the COP parties and the UN as a whole.
With the Vatican encyclical and the pronouncements of many world leaders, where are we going?
Why not just step on the brakes of the development of the old economic model.
We need to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide back to 350ppm.
And yes, it can be done.
It is better to have a little than none at all.
We are at the tipping point.
Enough is enough.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, July 15, 2015
CONSERVATION has evolved strangely since its inception. Conservation is the act of preserving, guarding or protecting our biodiversity natural resources. It is about protecting the ecology.Environmentalist have long ago tried to conserve our environment. Many went to the grassroots to conserve their environment. Sadly, many also used conservation as business to play their game.
When donors give funds to their preferred charity or project, it does not mean that the funds given are restricted and cannot be used other than what the donors want.
When funding for conservation is given, it must go directly to the protection of our environment. Even if we need to agree today that our present development model is the root cause of the state of our planet. Some still are of that mode that they cannot speak out on environmental abuse even if the funds were given by the polluter.
What happens to the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle.
All was good in the Rio earth summit. Conservation was at its pinnacle at that time. Though TNC’s and MNC’s were already planting the roots of contempt. This became manifest during the WSSD-The World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 hosted by South Africa.
Green washing became the name of the game and money was the medium.
They went on their usual ways especially in Nigeria.
And after 20 COP -- we have not achieved anything on climate talks.
Conservation has become a business controlled word.
We have had a summer of record heat and droughts not only here in our country but all over the world.
Heat strokes that have killed thousands in India and Pakistan. Droughts that have affected the agricultural production and the water tables in California, forcing the authorities to reduce the use of water by 25 percent.
This El Niño year has wrought havoc to the planet. Not only did the heat and droughts reach record levels but they have seriously affected the food production and the water resources.
Biodiversity has not been spared. With all the climatic calamities occurring globally.
Many have spoken against the effects of global warming.
The Norway Fund -- one of the biggest hedge funds -- has divested in its investments on fossil fuels and moved them to renewable green investments.
Many have followed suite.
The Pope Encyclical has sent a powerful message to the faithful and to the world.
The campaign for the US elections is taking climate change as an electoral issue.
And many are doing their own to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
As far as I am concerned, the biggest victory yet is that the Dutch courts have ordered their government to reduce emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels.
Much more than the G8 leaders and the COP have made. The G8 has called for a 40 percent to 70 percent reduction of emissions in 2050.
Too far and too late to make a difference.
As I write this, we experienced the first typhoon code named Egay which entered the country and was headed for Northern Luzon. Right behind are two more typhoons which will ravage our country.
What we cannot understand is why are we still building coal power plants when the world is getting out of fossil fuel.
Why the fuss of building in Davao, Subic, Quezon and Palawan? The Secretary of Energy states that it is good to build now that the price of coal is low and cheap.
We say that’s a very shallow and antiquated premise. Hawaii has said that it will be powered by renewable energy 100 percent. Germany has said the same and is pursuing said goal.
We don’t want coal powered plants. We want renewable energy of which we have such abundant resource. Why don’t we practice what we preach.
Why don’t we speak in one voice -- a LOUD voice and practice what we preach! Surely that’s not very hard to do?
Should nothing happen in the COP 21 in Paris, we will see more Arab springs; we will see the people speak in anger; we will see unrest and a call for climate justice.
It seems that the best way to make a difference is people power and the power of the courts. We have all seen the power of the people in EDSA. We will see it again.
Kudos to the Dutch courts for their historic ruling. At least they are taking a bold stand to save the planet.
Let’s remember that conservation is not a game. It has become a matter of life and death.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, July 1, 2015
AS I write this, the Earth is entering a new phase of extinction.
Simon Stewart, former head of the Species
Survival Commission of IUCN-The World conservation
Union, said over BBC that over 400 vertebrates have gone
extinct since 1900 and that the speed of extinction is
141 times faster than it was.
Frankly, I believe it is greater. We believe that species that have not been discovered have already gone extinct.
Many are adopting to the new climatic events of extreme heat, shortage of food and water, floods and droughts.
The Pope’s encyclical sends a very powerful message to the leaders of the world and for the over 1 billion Christians.
The Pontiff calls for the rich to change their lavish lifestyles and for them to stop the destruction of the planet and God’s creation.
He calls on all to combat climate change and protect God’s creation.
As I continue to put my thoughts in writing, the provinces up North are suffering from droughts as India and most of the world are experiencing the heat. No country is spared from the rise of temperatures.
The asphalted roads of India are melting. The Glaciers and Ice caps continue their decline. Our last source of water in the form of ice is melting into the sea.
And who is to care for the Polar bears? Their home is melting and they are mammals like us and will drown. It has been observed that for the first time Polar bears are feeding on dolphins, also a mammal and are storing their catch in the remaining ice.
The food and home of the Polar bears are disappearing and the eating and hunting slows as well.
In our case, our food yields have declined. The agricultural yields will go down here and so will all over the drought stricken areas of the world.
Water will be rationed and eventually be in short supply.
There will be increasing poverty and more Arab springs.
There will be wars for resources. Just look at China occupying our Spratly Islands. The Kalayaan Island group used to supply over 20 percent of Manila’s marine food needs. What about our fishermen?
This is our Land and we must defend it. Or are we not brave and sovereign enough?
Making it an International Marine sanctuary was our resolution during the Amman World Conservation Congress in 2000.
Let’s face it -- our planet has reached the tipping point.
We need to act now and make an impact.
Consume less. Go to renewables; get out of fossil fuels. Stop uncontrolled development and tourism.
And for crying out loud, let us enforce the total logging ban. Protect our oceans. Sequester carbon dioxide and adapt for there will be more droughts, floods and super typhoons.
There will be a rise of new diseases such as EBOLA to MERS and many more.
So let’s make a difference. Let’s survive in a clean and healthy environment.
THE PLANET HAS THE RIGHT TO SURVIVE AND IT IS OUR DUTY TO PROTECT HER.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, June 24, 2015
THE Vatican has just released Pope Francis’ message calling on all people and leaders to listen to the cry of the earth and protect the creation of God from climate change and further destruction.
The encyclical contains proposals on how to act -- with food for thought for many.
Basically, it wants a change of lifestyle and for the rich to stop polluting the earth to combat climate change.
The leader of more than a billion Christians has spoken for the first time on this vital issue.
This shows the extent of the dying ecology. The Pope’s last visit here last January, 2015 is testament of his concern against climate change.
I say: rise up Christian soldiers and fight this monster climate change! Surely many more feel the same.
The earth is crying for help. The culprits have been humans whatever faiths they may have. But the Vatican has made its own appeal while the other faiths are waging war against each other.
India and the Middle East are in extreme drought. North Korea and California are in their worse drought ever.
As we welcome the call of the Pope, we expect that many of the members of the COP 21 in Paris this year will do little on how to combat effectively global warming.
The Group of Seven has already made its plan and announced like they were the saviors of the planet -- cut of 40% to 70% percent of greenhouse gas emissions on 2050.
By 2050, many of the people who signed the accord would be dead. Definitely carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would have breached the 5ppm-700ppm mark.
Temperatures will have passed the 2°C that will bring to the earth climatic conditions that will bring extreme poverty, drought, floods, heat, new diseases like Ebola and MERS.
There will be nothing left in 2050. This announcement is premature and will have NO BEARING. We are all suffering today and no one is being spared.
It is the hope of many that the message of Pope Francis would reach the hearts and minds of the good and the faithful.
We pray that it does. If they have not slowed down GHG emissions by now, they never will until Arab springs bring Industry and the economy to a halt.
Then we can have a new beginning. A simple life with pristine forest and healthy and clean oceans.
We pray that the message of the Pope is taken seriously!
For if NOT, THEN THERE WILL BE NO TURNING BACK.
May God bless the courage of the Pope and those who protect Mother Earth.
After all, the Canticle of all creatures says it all.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, June 03, 2015
AS I write this, the scourging heat is sparing no one and it is spreading its tentacles far and wide.
In India, hundreds have died due to the heat.
In many parts of the world, the droughts seem to spread like the Sahara.
Most deserts continue to expand like a growing tree powered by carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses. There are climate changes and weather that cannot be predicted by forecast and atmospheric institutions.
In the United States, the spring month of May has caused early storms and powerful record breaking hurricanes in the central states.
In California the prolonged drought has made the State take drastic action to conserve water.
Should this drought continue California is said to run out of water in two years. For a state so productive and rich, she will succumb to climate change and global warming.
At home, the heat is taking its toll. People are suffering from heat strokes and our agricultural produce will decline as the land turns into dryness.
Like a checkered piece of dry land, once a fertile jewel with moisture and nutrient rich.
Today the soil and the land are feeling the scourge of the heat and the people are not spared.
The entire planet is in heat. She is dying and it is our fault.
The Financial Times issue of 27th of May, 2015 featured a report entitled “Climate Campaign wins over more senior executives”.
The article by Pelita Clark mentions that many CEO’s and corporate executives agree that carbon dioxide is the enemy number one.
Gerald Mestrallet, CEO of France’s sprawling Engie (formerly known as GDF Suez), one of the worlds largest energy companies, show how much change has evolved in the business world since the last-fruitless effort made to seal a meaningful global climate change agreement, in Copenhagen in 2009.
Although there has been a change in thinking by a few corporate executives. Many are combating climate change in their own way.
The UNFCCC and the COP 21 in Paris will face pressure not only from citizens and NGOs but from the people who themselves have polluted the planet in the last 50 years.
Yet in our country and in many others there is still the thinking that the old model will work.
Unattainable development and infrastructure projects continue to rise vertically all over, leaving no green spaces in urban cities.
Greed has to be curtailed by regulation and conscience with action.
What the COP failed to do, the people will achieve as many corporations will be present in the COP 21 in Paris this year.
Frankly, we are wondering why the CEO,s and corporate executives have taken so long to realize that carbon dioxide is the enemy which must be beaten.
Some developments are encouraging. The rise of renewable energy and the search for carbon sequestration in our forest and oceans.
The day is nearing when oil and coal will be fossil fuels of the past as many are getting tired of the dominance of oil and the dirtiness of coal.
They are tired of carbon dioxide.
It has affected their bottom-line profits and they have realized this.
Sadly while all this talk is occurring the world is suffering from food and water shortages.
Like California, our country’s watersheds and dams are drying up. The water levels are receding rapidly as temperatures breach record highs.
The enemy is carbon dioxide, as well as and those who continue to spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Let us not be fooled by pronouncements but continue our collective struggle to win the war against climate change.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, May 27, 2015
THIS journey begins in Manila where our country and people are victims of the extreme heat that the summer has scourged upon us.
The temperatures reached as high as 42 degrees Celsius. Too high for this time of the year.
Our crops and rivers are drying up and yes water is a concern that everyone needs to address. The shortage of water and food will affect our people and our biodiversity.
Despite all the climatic manifestations that we have suffered -- Specifically super typhoon Yolanda -- there seems to be no real action to protect the environment.
Still the UNFCCC COP 21 this year in Paris and the delegations attending are still bent on CDM: Carbon Development Mechanisms and REDD. Trading carbon has us all worrying as there appears more concern in funding rather than mitigation and reducing greenhouse gases.
Already, atmospheric carbon dioxide has breached the 400 pppm level and is rising exponentially.
Our carbon sinks that sequester the carbon dioxide in the forests and the oceans are being cut and polluted.
Our oceans are victims of acidification and the number of dead zones has increased. Gyres have increased as well holding all the plastic and waste in almost all our oceans from the Pacific ocean to the Atlantic and the Indian ocean to the many others.
Mind you, these are dead zones and are spreading fast.
Leaving Manila for San Francisco, California, we were welcomed by a prolonged drought. It is said the California may run out of water in two years.
Already a State Law has been passed to reduce the consumption of water by 25 percent in a State that produces most of the agricultural produce in the world.
From Citrus to Almonds and cattle. California feeds America. If it were a country, it would have a GDP-Gross Domestic Product higher than most developed countries in the world. She will be the 4th largest economy and yes, this is only one state.
We were surprised when we were not served water in a restaurant! If you don’t ask for water, you will not be served.
Ten percent of California’s water is used for the production of Almonds. Imagine that?
Moving on, we went to Denver, Colorado -- that mile high city and home of the rocky mountains. Even there, strange weather was occurring. Heat one day and snow the next. It snowed in Denver for three days and then stopped. The flight was to my surprise fully booked as the snow delayed and cancelled many flights.
Typhoon Ana was slamming the Carolinas at the same time. Storms have been coming early this year. May is a spring month and not a period of storms?
Flying to Boston was the same story. The weather was fickle with the swings of heat and cold the variances are bigger and more pronounced.
The war for climate change has been waged 21 COP years ago and more voices have added to the fight to win the war on climate change. Recall: The million people march in New York and most cities. The pronouncements by President Obama and the Chinese. Pope Francis visit to Manila and Tacloban sent a strong message to the world. French President Holland visited Manila as well sent the message to the COP in Paris this year.
But uncontrolled development goes on unabated. California suffers from a drought and an oil spill. The central states have more severe hurricanes.
The planet is being destroyed by Man and the greed of the extractive industries.
Mind you: we are in the tipping point. Time is running out. Species still undiscovered are going extinct and one day may be too late to even harbor humankind.
For God’s sake, let’s stop the talking. Let’s win the war against climate change by action and not words.
The end of the line is nearing.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Philippine Daily Inquirer, Opinion, Saturday, May 16, 2015
It was great to go home to the ocean once again. We couldn’t be away too long from the place that taught us the value of the marine environment.
In school we were taught, not about the environment and the importance of conservation, but how to make money. Economics and finance ruled the educational world.
We looked forward to go diving again in Anilao in Mabini, Batangas, near the center of the Coral Triangle. It would be like coming home, for we have been diving there for nearly 40 years. We have gone camping there, island-hopping, sleeping on the beach, cooking our food, fishing only what we could consume. But we found that it has changed into a place where ecotourism has gone beyond the goal of sustainability.
In diving places, there must be strict ecotourism guidelines to protect and enhance coral growth and environmental education.
Our dive in April was not as good as it used to be. To our surprise, gone were the jacks and the snappers. It seemed that they had all been caught, sold and eaten. No coral crevice harbored any red snapper (lapu-lapu). Gone were the cone shells and cowries, the turtles, the schools of dolphins… Imagine our shock. The reefs looked like they had been hit by humans, blasted and torn by anchors and, yes, divers.
We were in an area taking photos and, all of a sudden, all the fish swam away. We looked around and saw a squad of scuba divers in battle formation. The fish seemed to be on the defensive. The clown fish would actually hit one’s mask and bite one’s gloves. The fish had developed a fear of divers, unlike the olden days when they would even pose for you. After all, it was their “city” and their home.
To think that this is a protected area. Our invitation to visitors to come to our rich and adored land—“It’s more fun in the Philippines”—can be a boon or a bane. Uncontrolled tourism, one without rules and guidelines, can be disastrous.
We were saddened, but our resolve was strengthened.
We are a country so rich in resources. Our biodiversity is, or once was, pristine. We are in the center of the Coral Triangle. We can feed our people with our richness. We have a coastline longer than that of the continental United States.
In January Pope Francis came and visited Tacloban and Palo in Leyte, where the issue was Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” The message was climate change and in focus were the people who destroy God’s creation. His Holiness was greeted with love and affection by millions of people in Manila and Leyte. His message went out loud and clear to the largest Catholic country in Asia.
In February French President François Hollande came to visit and to drum up commitment for the climate change conference in Paris this December. The goal is to make the 195 members of the Conference of the Parties to reduce greenhouse gases and to restore carbon dioxide emissions to the 350 ppm needed to sustain life.
Oceans and forests are carbon sinks. They sequester the carbon dioxide that has breached 402 ppm. Global warming and climate change are the threats to Planet Earth.
We have advocated conservation for the last 40 years, to no avail. Today the world has awakened and we want climate justice. Let’s face it: The development model has failed us all.
We want a world where we can live in peace and with sufficient food, water, shelter and good air for all. We want an end to poverty, corruption—and environmental destruction. And we want it now.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, May 13, 2015
AS I write this, the summer heat is bearing down on the country like a furnace cooking all that is in its path.
As of this writing, 54 provinces are affected by EL NIÑO, the childlike phenomenon that brings unbearable heat to our land and the heating of the oceans.
From Luzon to Mindanao, the drought and heat are taking their toll.
Our rivers and dams are drying up and our land is turning into a dessert. Our crop yields will go down and yes, water will become a big issue.
Our fear is that water may be rationed again like what the state of California has done. They have rationed water consumption and reduced the usage by 25 percent.
California is one of the world’s largest economies. Its agriculture is massive and irrigation implements are of a massive scale. Mechanized farming and big plantations rule the farming world in the United States. Unlike small organic farms in Europe that use smaller doses of water.
Did you know that it takes more gallons of water to produce an almond? California consumes 1.1 trillion gallons of water each year to produce almonds.
Enough for us to take a 10 minute shower each day for 86 million years.
Let’s face it: people are running out of this finite resource.
A resource that gives us life.
We must conserve our water resources or face the consequences of a Saharan type environment.
This El Niño year will bear down hard on us and affected countries.
Let us replenish this resource. Let us reforest. Let us not waste water.
SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE TOURISM IS A MUST
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial, Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I write this, the summer heat has manifested itself in
And it is only the beginning.
In Mt. Apo, tourists are not allowed to enter the park due to the drought and the possibility of a forest fire.
In Boracay, the water has turned green due to Algae Bloom caused by the organic waste of the tourist.
In Anilao, Batangas, the diving center of the country and partly the center of the Coral Triangle, the reefs are bleaching due to climate change and are being destroyed by the many tourist divers who do not follow the proper care of coral reefs.
What good is all our natural resources if we are promoting the tourists to come and investors to enter our country without proper guidelines on how to protect and conserve our environment.
Who would want to swim in the world’s most popular beach -- Boracay -- when the waters are green and polluted?
Already, the tourists have spread a lot of havoc on the marine ecosystem; this must be controlled and guided accordingly.
What good are the millions of tourists and their dollars if they just destroy our natural environment?
The summer heat will get worse.
We need to stop illegal logging once and for all.
We need to reforest in a massive scale.
We need proper guidelines in going scuba diving to protect our coral reefs.
We need to protect our mountains and forest.
Imagine Mount Apo, our tallest mountain, under siege and in the brink of fire due to the drought.
We will eventually lose tourists as all our natural sites will be gone and destroyed.
We have warned against the over-development of Boracay and Palawan and yet our calls go unheeded as more and more development goes on.
The sustainability of an island resort or a scuba diving site is limited.
We have to have controlled, responsible and sustainable tourism, or none at all.
Last month, our group in Mindanao had to call off the activity in Mt. Apo due to the drought and so we decided to reforest the area instead.
This is the job and responsibility of government as we cannot do it alone.
Let us protect our environment. It is worth more than the destructive tourists dollar.
It is time to review our strategy and learn from the past and the present so our future will be secured.
SAVE DYING SEAS
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Opinion, Saturday, March 25th, 2015
We had the opportunity to go diving again after a long time. It seems like a life time as we used to go regularly home to the oceans where over forty years ago, we would document coral growth and measure their growth.
It was here in the seas that we really learned about the value of the environment, particularly the marine environment.
It was here that we realized the importance of the terrestrial forest and the reaction that logging and pollution would have in the marine environment.
It was here that our resolve and commitment to protect and conserve our environment began.
Our most effective classroom.
We have gone a long way since and yet the planet continues to face destruction as logging, extraction and pollution of our land and seas continue with a more rapid pace.
We were saddened to see what we saw during our dive. Gone were the schools of jack fish, gone to our surprise were the snappers that used to hide in every coral reef, gone were the lobsters that used to live in the reefs; gone were the cowries, cone and other shells that used to proliferate the seas.
We dove in several sites along Maricaban island and Sombrero in Anilao, Mabini in Batangas.
This area has become the center of diving as it is part of the coral triangle.
There were no resorts then like they have today. It was better and richer then as we just camped on the beaches and caught the fish that we would eat.
Last week, what we saw was a proliferation of resorts and foreign divers who show very little respect for our coral reefs.
One resort owner mentioned that competition was stiffer as many resorts have proliferated in the place.
In our mind, the area will eventually die a natural death as the tourists and divers will stop going there if the coral reefs are destroyed and their pristine form will no longer shine.
Many people do not know that the seas and oceans are alive. They harbor species that provide us with food. They sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide and serve as a carbon sink.
More than that, they cover two-thirds of the planet -- supplying the 7 billion inhabitants with food and livelihood.
We need to put strict guidelines on scuba diving and how to protect our coral reefs -- the beginning of the food chain in the marine environment.
If we cannot even do this, what more the war to combat climate change?
It is all in our hands and our leaders must act accordingly.
It’s simple: dead ocean and we will have no more fish and shells for food and no more carbon sinks.
Let us not underestimate the value of our seas.
Save our seas or we will all perish.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Philippine Daily Inquirer, Saturday, February 28th, 2015
All this talk about reducing carbon dioxide emissions is something that we hear time and time again.
We heard it during the totally disappointing Conference of the Parties on Climate Change last year in Lima, at the climate march held in many cities in the world, after Pope Francis’ visit last month to typhoon-ravaged Tacloban, and in US President Barack Obama’s call to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
We are hearing it again.
I have just returned from the big island of Mindanao. I visited six provinces—Davao del Norte and del Sur, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Lanao—and saw the richness and bounty of the Land of Promise.
We went to Mount Apo and visited Lake Agco in North Cotabato, a lake so rich with thermal energy. The forest is still lush but there are signs of logging and development of the wrong kind.
In Davao City I was amazed at how orderly things were. The speed limit is 30 kilometers per hour and it is a no-smoking city. There is a night market, and establishments and bars are closed by 1 a.m. Everywhere, peace reigns.
We took the Buda road from Davao City and crossed to Bukidnon. Passing the cities of Maramag, Valencia and Malaybalay, we saw the richness and biodiversity of the land and the simplicity of its people. The road ends in the city of Cagayan de Oro and the sea.
The Land of Promise is still the Land of Plenty. We went to Lanao and met with my Muslim friends. It was great to see Christians and Muslims living alongside each other in peace.
Mindanao used to be a typhoon-free island—thus the vast banana and pineapple plantations. But of late it has been visited by storms such as “Sendong.” Due to the torrential rainfall it brought as well as the unabated logging, new rivers were formed and devastated parts of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
The Philippines is ground zero in the climate change catastrophe. And the world and the COP must reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and restore carbon dioxide to the 350 ppm needed to sustain life.
We are already at the tipping point and there is no more time to waste. Let the Land of Promise become once again the Land of Plenty and Peace.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, February 25, 2015
AS I write this, the worse drought is plaguing Brazil and is destroying her agriculture and biodiversity.
Home of the great Amazon forest the richest and most diverse forest in the planet and one of the biggest carbon sinks the planet has.
It seems that climate change has reached her shores and more.
I remember the time when Chico Mendez, the environmental activist, was killed for his efforts to save thegreat Amazon forest.
Since then, so many environmentalists have suffered from the same fate. Many have been killed for advocating and protecting our environment.
The Philippines is no exception. We rank high in the list of slain environmentalist.
Where is the justice and where is the protection?
As I continue to write this, the United States is still suffering from subzero temperatures as winter storms continue to batter her.
There is no stopping this. It will happen every year and will get worse.
The only way to stop this carnage is to mitigate atmospheric carbon dioxide and combat climate change the real way. Just STOP emissions and go renewable.
Our oceans are the next to be destroyed. The Financial lime reported that our oceans are soiled by over eight million tons of plastics every year.
This is no joke as the oceans not only sequester carbon dioxide but harbor a multitude of species of marine life.
They produce food and supply livelihood to billions of our people.
The destruction of our oceans have reduced species in the wild and have made them culture salmon and other species of prawns and shrimp.
Yes, we are against the culture of species in the oceans especially as they feed them with artificial feeds. This has caused more damage to the oceans and the reduction of fish catch in the wild has increased the cost of this free resource.
We used to culture black tiger prawns in the 1980s during the boom and demand for the exotic species until we realized that amount of bacteria and poison that this culture was doing.
The waste and bacteria would not only destroy the ponds but the waste water would destroy the seas and the mangrove forest when the ponds are drained.
The PH had to be over seven, meaning the water is alive and contained oxygen.
Today, our oceans have countless dead zones and gyres that have a PH of less than seven meaning they are dead. The amount of dead zones are expanding and the number of gyres are increasing as wall.
In one of our dives, we noticed the proliferation of jelly fishes and no sign of fish. This meant that the sea water was dead and the PH was below seven with zero oxygen.
We reported this to the authorities and they replied by sending a crew to check the area out.
I do hope they have resolved the pollution.
The fact is, we have only two massive ecosystems that feed and give this planet life as well as sequester the carbon dioxide.
It is not enough to reduce
GHG only we need to sequester the carbon and stop adding more.
Let us save our ecosystems and we can save our planet.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, February 18, 2015
EACH time I travel the Buda mountain road from Davao City to Cagayan de Oro, I can feel the wilderness and its biodiversity.
It may not be as diverse as it used to be but just travelling to the center of the island of Mindanao is always a marvel -- traversing Maramag, Valencia and Malaybalay all in Bukidnon then passing throughthe last mountain views until you see the sea that fronts Cagayan de Oro.
Davao is such a big city, it used to be the largest in the world in area but has been overtaken by Puerto Princesa in Palawan a few years ago due to expanding boundary.
Leaving the flat lands of Davao City and moving on to the hinterlands and mountain ranges that take about seven to eight hours is no easy ride. Yet the journey is such a thrill as one can see endless peaks and mountain covered clouds.
This trip was wet and foggy and what entered my mind was the time that typhoon Sendong devastated Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Due to massive deforestation, the rains formed new rivers that formed their own path.
The rain waters did not follow the rivers but just made new ones as the lack of forest cover could not hold the heavy downpour.
I remember the many times I took this route -- it was filled with pristine forest and rivers and ravines with clear water.
What has happened to the land of promise?
It has been a victim of rampant deforestation and mining. Logging was the name of the game and mining was to kill the rest of the earth.
Most of the big plantations are here in Mindanao. From Pineapple to Bananas. Big farmers were here in abundance as NO typhoon would hit the island.
It was a typhoon-free island until global warming and climate change altered the weather patterns and their route today always hit Mindanao.
What a pity -- our land of promise has become a land of war and extraction, a land of bald mountains and poverty. A land of promise that has been destroyed by the greed of the people who logged and mined the island dry.
It is not too late to save her as she still has forest resources that can be restored and rehabilitated.
It still has resources so much so that big business is mining and logging here. Coal power plants are being built and that is sad. While the rest of the world is going renewable, we are still building the dirty fossil fuel plants of coal.
And for what and for who?
Why can’t they leave the island alone. Stop damming the great Maria Cristina Falls. It’s been dammed enough. Don’t destroy the great lake of Marawi and the land of the Maranaos, the people of the lake.
Since the beginning of time, the people of Mindanao have been managing the island sustainably. The Lumads, The Maranaos, The Tausugs and the many tribes that took care of the island; the island took care of them.
Then the colonization period came and with it came the many others who raped the island of its richness and made it a basket for the taking.
Leave the island alone so it can have lasting peace and become the Land of Real Promise.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, February 11, 2015
IT has been close to three years since I have been back to Davao City in the big island of Mindanao and mind you it is a great feeling.
New things have happened here; for one, the city has a 30 kilometer speed limit imposed, aside from being it a smoke-free city, with a night market every night.
The people are happy
On our schedule is a visit to Digos and Kidapawan and then Mt. Apo, the tallest peak in our beloved country.
Mt. Apo which stands about 10,311 feet above sea level is still a marvel to visit. We went to Lake Agco and viewed the thermal water and the power of thermal energy that the mountain has. People bath in pools and cover themselves with the mud to cleanse their bodies.
I had looked forward to this journey as I have never seen the lake up in the mountain.
Also on tab are swimming the placid lake and breathing the clean mountain air. Likewise, seeing a real jungle, a forest and a mountain filled with trees.
Naturally they are nature’s bounty, without the need for a single centavo to build. They have grown naturally, blessed with the gentle rain and the richness of the soil and the biodiversity of the mountain.
People get revitalized and that to me is the wellness of the mountains. The wellness of nature and the medicine nature can provide.
Aside from fresh food and abundance of fruits, clean water and fresh air. Nature at its best gives us species and biodiversity.
This to us is the real development. The development and richness of nature and its natural capital.
You don’t see this anymore in Manila and the ever expanding metropolis -- there, you don’t have the basic needs for a healthy life.
Already shortage of food, water and an abundance of polluted air and horrendous traffic jams are symptoms of a way of life that is anti-development.
It destroys lives and kills people. In urban locations, diseases are more pronounced as poverty continues to increase while the scarcity of the clean things that nature provides are no more.
And yet there are those who still believe in passing the buck and the right to pollute our environment. Those who believe in money and -- Carbon Development Mechanisms.
We will never understand this narrow thinking of quantifying life and trading carbon.
It is not like barter or trading goods. It is trading lives and peoples.
We have faced the wrath and destruction brought forth by super typhoon Yolanda, a typhoon that has the honor to hold the world record as the most powerful typhoon to hit the planet -- a super typhoon that has made meteorologists and scientists think twice about climate change.
Twice about climate change; a typhoon that brought Pope Francis to visit Tacloban and our climate change -- impacted country. Our Pearl of the Orient Seas.
We will continue to do what we need to do to survive. We will mitigate and adapt. We will increase our carbon sinks, our seas and forest.
We will enhance them. We will plant in the billions. But we will not trade the carbon we absorb for others to pollute so we can be victims of more Yolandas.
We will prevail and we demand climate justice from the world’s polluters.
We demand that the COP 21 in Paris next year come up with a binding and courageous agreement that will make us win the war against global warming and climate change.
We will march and occupy. We will make the winds of change.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I REALLY don’t know why they still say sustainabledevelopment is good when it is not being practiced.
Everywhere I go I see nothing but over-development and there seems to be no stopping it.
Buildings and new cities are rising everywhere despite the glut and the oversupply of condominium units.
What makes it worse is that they seem not to factor in the lack of water that needs to be used to construct this so called development.
Already there are signs of a water shortage as our mountains and forests continue to go bald and logging continues unabated.
Already our faucets are running dry and our aquifers are being depleted.
Water is the source of all life -- without it there is nothing to talk about not even climate change.
Our rivers continue to dry up and when it rains new rivers are formed and flash floods wreck havoc on our communities and peoples.
There is a shortage of water for agriculture and the food that we eat.
Even the yields of our agricultural produce have gone down as the top soil has lost all its nutrients.
The world is focusing all its efforts and rhetoric on climate change due to what super typhoon Yolanda’s devastation of Tacloban and everything in its path.
Pope Francis’ visit to Tacloban and our beautiful country was basically for the victims and survivors of Yolanda not to mention that we are the largest Christian country in Asia.
Pope Francis’ message has reached far and wide and is a clear signal to all world leaders especially those entrusted to combat climate change in the COP 21 this year in Paris.
With nothing accomplished last year in Lima, Peru and with record droughts and the warmest year on record in 2014, the war against climate change is by far the most dangerous catastrophe we have to tackle and win.
We need to reduce GHG and we need to reduce and restore atmospheric carbon dioxide back to the 350ppm needed to sustain life.
This is not difficult to do. Frankly the oil issue and the economic crisis have accomplished more to mitigate climate change than the COP.
The cost of renewable energy has prospered and is now affordable and we must pursue this to save our planet.
But what we need to do is get our act together and change our thinking on development.
We need to really bite the bullet and make it sustainable. We need to develop the wellness of the people and the planet and not build and build until we are out of water, food and clean air.
With over two billion people without access to water and sanitation. And the Philippines in ground ZERO.
For what good is all the development if there is no Life.
The world’s people are suffering as well as our biodiversity and ecosystems.
It is time to have a binding agreement to reduce GHG in the COP 21 in Paris.
Let us heed the message of Pope Francis.
Let’s go back to the basics.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, January 21, 2015
WHEN super typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines in November 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis at the Holy Mass held in Tacloban said that he had wanted and vowed to visit the devastation in Tacloban and the Philippines.
That super typhoon, the strongest on record had mystified the world’s scientists as its strength and devastation were like an atom bomb.
There are many more climatic records to be broken.
Last year -- 2014 -- was recorded as the hottest year on record globally.
Scientists said the most remarkable thing about the 2014 record was that it occurred in a year that did not feature El Niño, a large-scale weather pattern in which the ocean dumps an enormous amount of heat into the atmosphere.
Even as more than 2 billion people live below the poverty line and have no access to water and sanitation.
The millennium development goals have never been achieved as our biodiversity continues to be destroyed.
Extraction and logging continue with the business-as-usual attitude of greed and power prevail for the rich few.
Pope Francis’ vow was fulfilled in Tacloban. Wherever he went, he spoke of the issues affecting the poor and the sick. The Pontiff did not hesitate to warn leaders in government to stop corruption.
And then, he spoke about global warming and climate change and how such would destroy the environment and God’s creation.
Saying in Tacloban that most of them had lost everything, he added that “I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord knows what to say to you.”
He spoke of the Lord who cries and the Holy Mother who will take care of the people and children in these most difficult times.
In addressing the victims and survivors of Yolanda, he spoke from his heart, giving them the strength, faith and hope that they are not alone, that they need to move forward and the Holy Mother will be with us all.
No amount of rain and even an incoming typhoon could stop the crowd from meeting the Pope in Tacloban. He made history and strengthened the resolve and faith of our people.
After his election to Papacy, he selected the name Pope Francis after Saint Francis, a rich and wealthy man who gave up all material wealth to help the poor and the environment.
Pope Francis was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of devotees in Asia's largest Catholic country.
The leader of the Christianity of over 1.3 billion people wasted no time to speak about the poor and the gap of inequality existing.
More than ever he spoke of hope and love and that there is nothing to be afraid of: “Jesus is here with us always.”
His messages will echo throughout the civilized world -- strengthening our faith and cleansing our soul for we are all one people under God.
Francis is the first Pope who spoke very strongly against global warming and climate change.
Visiting Tacloban and Palo was very important for him and sends a powerful message to every leader in the world as well as the people impacted by pollution and destruction of our environment.
It is expected that the Pope will issue a very strong statement prior to the COP 21 in Paris as he was very disappointed with what happened in Lima, Peru.
He prays and hopes that the COP leaders will have the courage to mitigate and win the war against climate change.
Pope Francis has touched our lives -- all of us. Whether Jew or Gentile, Muslim or Hindu, Buddhist or agnostics. His very presence and his words coming from the heart are words that Jesus has told him to deliver.
There is only one God and we must all be his messengers. With his visit and statement, it is hoped that we will win the war against climate change, that we will win the war against poverty and inequality.
Last Sunday, the 18th of January, the feast of the Santo Niño, all roads led to the Luneta Park where the Pope celebrated his last mass in our country. Millions braved the rains and the incoming typhoon to see him and feel his blessings.
It was a scene not to be forgotten. People from all classes of life, religion and age, converged in every artery leading to Luneta.
His messages echo: “Learn to Live and Love. Be surprised to receive blessings from God. To help the poor and the sick and the environment.
“To have the courage to cry and weep and have hope for we are the missionaries of God.”
Thank you, Pope Francis, for moving us forward and blessing us all.
Let the world know of your love and compassion.
That the world will live in peace and harmony and that a better world is expected.
God bless you, Pope Francis.
VIVA IL PAPA!
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, January 14, 2015
AS I write this, I can only grieve for the victims of the recent Air Asia Flight 8501 that crashed flying over a storm during a period when storms are not supposed to be affecting us. I grieve for the missing Malaysian airlines MH370 which as of today has not even been found.
I grieve for the thousands of people who died during super typhoon Yolanda. I grieve for the many who have died uselessly in ferry and navigational accidents. I grieve for the many who have died due to the effects of climate change and the many who will continue to die uselessly.
Life was created to be lived and man was supposed to make life a better place to live for all. The private sector and government were supposed to go on sustainable development and reach the Millennium Development Goals -- to supply the over 2 billion people without access to water and sanitation, to eradicate poverty and stop the destruction of our biodiversity.
Sadly, nothing has been done and planet Earth continues to be treated like a giant waste basket. Filled with dirty air and water. A point in time will come when we will not have water to drink as well as clean air to breathe.
We are not alone in this struggle. We are all victims of climatic changes and new diseases. Even the polluters and the extractive industries and those that are still in the fossil fuel mode. A time when oil has reached its lowest price and producing it at a loss. I am amazed how the planet has changed. Most of our forests have been felled and our mountains are balding. Our rivers have gone dry and our oceans are dying of acidification.
We are aghast at what is happening and blame world leaders who have failed us as well as the polluters who continue their carnage.
They must face justice. We know there is a process but the process has just legitimized the destruction of our beloved planet.
The rise of Ebola and now the H7A9 virus and many more diseases to follow is no joke nor laughing matter.
The poor are getting poorer and yes food from the wild is almost extinct.
We have warned against farming our seas and oceans in as much as the bacteria is killing the ecosystems that give us life, that give us food and sequester the carbon dioxide that we emit. The ecosystems in our forests and oceans are in danger yet the carnage goes on.
We have warned of peak oil, peak food and water -- yet nothing happens; We have marched on the streets; yes, the climate change marches have been magnified by the echoes of the dead and the living.
We demand climate justice and the pursuit of a better life. A life ecologically balanced. We are not in favor of geo-engineering nor looking for new colonies in space to live in.
We love our planet and want to save her as well as our civilization.
The development model must change and we are demanding change for a better Life.
I grieve for all those who will continue to die uselessly and frankly we really don’t care if new species are discovered as we know that many species that have not been discovered have already gone extinct.
The planet is reaching the turning point. The threshold is close at hand. We the citizens of the Earth demand a good and safe life.
We cannot blame every crash on bad weather in this day and age. With GPS and smart phones, we cannot even save our ecosystems.
Its been a bad year for the environment with Lima stamping the death warrant.
The next COP 21 in Paris will do nothing as the threshold of 400ppm of carbon dioxide has been breached.
Frankly I grieve for them as well as I grieve for our planet.
It is time to stop the politics of destruction and narrow economics and reclaim the global commons from the rich TNC.
It’s time to go renewable and walk our talk.
Let the New Year bring out a new way of thinking.
And yes, I will continue to grieve and do our part to help the poor and the sick.
May our numbers grow.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Philippine Daily Inquirer, Saturday December 27th, 2014
The recent United Nations conference on climate change in Lima, Peru, produced a discouraging agreement described as “definitely watered-down from what we expected” and “very weak indeed.”
The agreement states, among other things, that all pledges of countries on how they intend to meet their emissions targets would be reviewed—and not compared against one another—a month ahead of the scheduled signing of a global climate deal at the 21st UN climate change conference in Paris next year.
Wire reports say that by requiring action from each country, the Lima agreement will “fundamentally change the old world order that stymied earlier climate change talks.” But it’s not guaranteed to achieve its stated goal: “to slow the rate of global emissions enough to prevent the atmosphere from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius over the preindustrial average.”
Meanwhile, climate change continues to melt the glaciers and ice everywhere.
I was a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Council in 1996-2004, the time when Swiss banks stopped lending money to ski resorts found not to have reliable snowfall.
According to economic geographer Rolf Buerk of the University of Zurich, as a result of global warming, ski resorts must be at an altitude of at least 4,265 feet to have reliable snowfall. “In the future, however, global warming is going to push the regular snowfall altitude to between 4,900 feet and 6,000 feet,” Buerk said, adding: “In Switzerland, several low-lying resorts are already having problems getting bank loans.”
This only shows how the planet is fast being destroyed by the present development model.
Months ago we traveled to Portugal and noted its healthy environment—the air was so clean and the water so abundant! Portugal uses hydro power and wind power, the second accounting for over 4 percent of its energy production.
The Portuguese use trams and electric buses for transportation. Electric buses ply the streets of the capital and largest city, Lisbon, and the municipality of Sintra, a Unesco Heritage Site known for its 19th-century architectural monuments.
One would be awed at how nature has merged strength and beauty in Portugal. The rivers north of Lisbon are so beautiful, and they power the hydro plants. The Tagus is known as the longest river in the Iberian peninsula.
Portugal has a suspension bridge similar to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, although longer. It was called Ponte Salazar, but after the Carnation Revolution in 1974, it was renamed the 25 de Abril Bridge, the day the 48-year dictatorship was ended in 1974.
Also etched in Portugal’s history is the 9.9 magnitude earthquake in 1755 that devastated the entire country and affected other neighboring countries, including Finland, Spain and Morocco. Yet, through the years, Portugal has risen, but perhaps with caution. It has few high-rise buildings and its people have maintained the old ways in their daily living. And their heritage and history have been preserved.
Portugal’s population is only 11 million, but the number of tourist arrivals is burgeoning. The top drawers are not only the spectacular sights but also Fatima, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13 until Oct. 13.
Fatima is now one of the world’s most famous Marian shrines. It has become a place of pilgrimage, worship, peace and hope.
It is this same hope that we must never lose in these challenging times.
Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Globalization, the world economies have been in a steady decline while stagflation—when “high inflation is combined with high unemployment and stagnant demand”—looms. War is being waged everywhere, and more Arab springs are in the making. Our natural resources are being depleted for the benefit of a few, and greed is constant in many.
Sadly, today we are still hesitant to accept that climate change is killing us all. This must stop. We must have faith that change can happen once we act collectively to save our planet. Our world leaders must act now or face the consequences. With the sorry state of our environment in the hands of global polluters and abusers, we are slowly reaching the point of no return.
We must get involved in volunteer activities to reforest, rehabilitate, conserve and preserve our fragile environment. While our faith in divine intervention remains, these activities all lead to the healing of our planet, our only home.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Killed by the power of corporate-polluters and the governments they control. Sadly but expectedly by there were no binding agreements to mitigate climate change.
No goals and targets -- just more paper to affix a signature for the COP process to continue its game and rhetoric.
Sadly, even the peoples of the world are looking down on the United Nations.
A sad day indeed.
This negated the historic climate march by the millions in New York -- attended by all classes in our society. Both rich and poor, young and old, -- peacefully to demand climate justice, demanding our right to life, not only in the constitution and the laws made by man both natural and religious laws. The right to a healthy and clean environment, the right to life.
During the conference typhoon Ruby was ravaging the country. The typhoon drew headlines and the limelight was on the Philippines once again.
Yolanda devastated us and
put us to the ground. Thousands died and lives changed
That was on our minds during the COP talks in Lima, Peru.
Perhaps it was also in the minds of the COP members -- sadly and without a conscience of guilt.
We dare say the agreement signed was a declaration of death. A death warrant for the planet and for all species that inhabit the planet earth.
The Lima participants were aware of the stories of the typhoons, the droughts, even the freak storm in San Francisco.
Yes, they knew the ice and glaciers have been melting. In fact they are melting faster than ever before.
Yes, they also know that more than two billion people have no access to water and sanitation.
Yes they know that water and food are getting scarce.
Yes they know that the war for resources is accelerating and Arab springs are in every continent.
Yes they know that islands will be sinking and people displaced.
Yes they know that atmospheric carbon dioxide has breached the 400ppm mark and that to get back to 350ppm needed to sustain life will never come.
The death warrant signed in Lima was to be sealed by vicious climatic changes.
We cannot wait for them; nor for COP 21 in Paris.
We don’t have the luxury of time.
We have passed the tipping point.
We need to protect our country and people.
We need to add more forest rangers and plant a billion trees and more.
We need to go renewable and show the world that we can lead the way.
Just like after typhoon Yolanda we rose from the dead. We showed the world how resilient we are.
Let’s do it now.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, December 17, 2014
AS I write this, climate talks are winding up in Lima, Peru. Twelve long days of how to abate and address the climate change debacle that is threatening to destroy our planet and civilization.
Perhaps it may mean nothing to others especially the leaders of governments that control the UNFCCC-COP 20 talks. Whatever happens in Lima will be a signal as to what will happen in the COP 21 in Paris next year.
We fear that nothing will change. Already, people who speak loudly against the issue especially to mitigate and reduce Greenhouse gases have been silenced and forced not to attend the climate change conference.
Furthermore, it appears the massive climate change march held in New York City, Paris and many other cities in the world will be ignored.
Frankly, the people and the citizens of the world are fed up in disappointment. And it will get worse as the threshold of a 2 degree Centigrade will be breached; the atmospheric carbon dioxide has breached the 400 ppm mark.
There will definitely be more super typhoons, more freak storms, flash floods, severe droughts, a drop in agricultural yields and increased poverty.
Is it not enough for all these calamities to knock some sense to our leaders? Perhaps, a few but not those who do not believe and are engrossed only with greed and power.
Don’t they know that all the riches in the world will go into a deflation of printed worthless paper; and that there will be nothing to buy, eat nor drink?
After the historical announcement made by President Obama and the Chinese leaders, nothing concrete has been achieved.
What has happened is a divide between the poor and the rich, the affected and those in their comfort zones.
In the most recent Financial Times, Barney Jopson and Ed Crooks wrote about the Climate Change corporate split widening in the United States.
The Obama administration environmental policy is deepening divisions between big businesses on climate change, mirroring polarization among US states over an issue that will drive more legal and political conflict next.
A White House plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power stations has exposed the growing rift between consumer businesses that support the proposal and industrial groups that are vehemently against it.
President Barack Obama is seeking to make action on climate change a central part of his legacy, but the plan from his environmental regulator is already threatened by lawsuits and Republican opponents in the US Congress.
A group of 220 companies, including well known US names such as Kellogg’s, Levi-Strauss, Mars, Nike and Starbucks have signed a letter in support of President Obama’s plan. European groups including Adidas, IKEA and Nestle and companies agree that climate change poses “real financial risk” and tackling it is one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.
While the corporate divide grows and the threat of an economic, social and environmental collapse is imminent, climate change talks in Lima as of this writing show nothing concrete.
We must act with resolve now. Perhaps, a boycott of the industrial polluters is in order. Perhaps, more marches and Arab springs are upcoming and the war for resources continues.
Perhaps, we are in the wrong forum and the United Nations has become irrelevant in tackling global issues.
Perhaps, the polluters must face crimes against humanity and be jailed.
We cannot go on like this and wait until we are destroyed by the likes of super typhoon Yolanda and Ruby.
We must act with resolve -- we do not have the luxury of time.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, December 03, 2014
AS I write this, the United States is experiencing below freezing temperatures in all 50 states. Some counties were declared in a state of calamity.
The Financial Times reported that Stanford University and the family foundation of John D. Rockefeller had announced plans to cut their hydrocarbon investments. This is no longer a joke as corporations and peoples are doing their own to cut greenhouse gas emissions to abate climate change.
I pray that this historical climate change announcement by the United States and China to lower GHG-Greenhouse gasses by 2030 and 2025, respectively, is more than just words.
The United States said it would reduce by a third GHG by 2025 and China countered that it would cap its GHG by 2030.
The announcement was made during the APEC summit in China at a time when the EBOLA virus is spreading rapidly, with a no cure scenario.
As for China expanding its new silk road to Germany and Portugal, to Africa and India -- this in itself tells a story. While we were in Portugal last September, we were told of the many Chinese nationals caught laundering money and getting special Investors visa as a second home -- just in case the mainland blows.
I don’t know how much action they will put in the battle against climate change.
For one thing, 2025 and 2030 are too far away to even shout victory that we have made it, or that we have reduced GHG emissions.
In this day and age where EBOLA, cancer and many new diseases are sprouting up more than flowers, where poverty is on an upswing, where greed and the lack of empathy are present, where materialism and corruption are prevalent -- we will NOT give up. We will never surrender.
The UNFCCC panel of experts repeatedly said that a 2-degree Centigrade increase in temperature would be bad enough to cause more devastation on climatic calamities.
They have warned that we have already passed the 2-degree Centigrade and are heading upwards. They have warned that a 4-degree Centigrade increase will cause loss of water and biodiversity, will bring unprecedented typhoons, storms, flash floods and the loss of food, shelter and water. Poverty will rise to high levels.
The so-called Millennium Development Goals are useless as we have passed the dates of the goals set forth that the loss of biodiversity will stop. That was yesterdays ago and nothing concrete has happened except the rapid and speedy loss of our forests and marine biodiversity. Over two billion people have no access to water and sanitation and that was 10 years ago. Today, perhaps it could be three billion people.
With the World Parks Congress being held in Sydney this week, we would probably hear all the bad news on our so-called protected areas and NO GO areas marked for protection.
Nothing much has been done since the last two World Parks Congress in Durban in 2003; we were only told of the partnerships with Shell, ICMM-International Chamber of Mining and Minerals and other corporations that disregarded the NO GO protected areas.
Extraction and logging continue at an accelerated pace.
Even the Great Barrier Reef is under attack.
Our oceans which make up more than 75 percent of our planet are under acidification and Marine Protected Areas make up less than 2 percent.
There were plans and promises to increase marine protected areas; sadly, nothing has been done.
What is being done is to find a shorter sea navigational route via the Arctic due to the melting ice and glaciers.
What in heaven’s name are they doing?
The crimes and criminals against nature are getting away with murder.
The Financial Times mentioned that the China- United States announcement lacks details, and for good reason. Governments come and go.
In 2016, elections will be held; the United States Democratic party has lost control of the US Senate to a party that does not believe in Climate Change.
Sometimes, we wonder if both parties lack the political will to pursue the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
From what we have seen since the Inconvenient Truth presented by Al Gore and the last 19 Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations, nothing has been done. Emissions continue to increase and the ice continues to melt as the temperature continues to rise and get hotter.
Let’s see what happens in Paris next year in COP 20.
How hot do they want, our planet to get? Already, one can cook an egg in the blistering heat, at the same time get blown away by the likes of super typhoon Yolanda.
Many more Yolandas will come. Mark my words. Brace up and plant trees and mangrove forests. Brace up and protect your own communities.
At the home front, the Visayan Daily Star has reported that the North Negros forest reserve -- the last in the island -- will be lost as the Mayors voted not to demolish the many structures that eco-tourist companies have built.
This is so sad and must be opposed and stopped.
We have been fortunate enough to have planted trees and stopped agriculture in our small 41 hectares mountain forest farm.
Its biodiversity is blooming and its natural regeneration continues unabated.
We are happy for we began this over 40 years ago. Today, it has become symbol of a true protected area, a real NO GO zone and we are proud of it.
Let us all unite and win the battle against climate change and show the world what we can do.
Let us walk our talk.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, November 12, 2014
entire world now is talking about climate change and how
to mitigate Greenhouse gas. The threshold
of a 2 degrees centigrade will be surpassed, causing
many more and disastrous effects.
The 4 degrees centigrade that seems to be near will definitely bring more massive devastation to our land and planet.
It may even put an end to our civilization as we know it and all for what?
Development and growth? Certainly not the people and the planet.
After over a year since the super-typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban and many parts of the Philippines, it seems that everyone now is talking about mitigation. The mitigation goals are form 40%-70% of existing levels by 2050. Frankly, we find this too long.
Mitigation of GHG must take effect immediately and not wait until 2050. With the COP 20 scheduled next year in Peru, it is imperative that mitigation Goals be set up to take effect as soon as the conference is over.
The UNFCCC has indicated finally that should nothing be done, then there will be more poverty, more homeless people, more damage to communities, agriculture and people.
The planet is the on the tipping point and many know this; thus the 350ppm carbon dioxide need to sustain life must be achieved and it must be fast tracked.
As of day, CO2 has already breached the 400 ppm mark and is increasing rapidly.
If not for the economic slowdown, it would have already gone up much faster.
And the planet will be faced with many more Yolandas. The very fact that the economic slowdown has occurred has slowed down GHG and lowered the consumption and cost of oil and coal, the dirtiest fossil fuels.
Sometimes we think that the economic slowdown has come as a boom, and not a bane, as it has in its own way mitigated carbon dioxide emissions.
Now it is time to go full throttle on renewable energy as well as increase the carbon sinks that will reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
It is time to rehabilitate and reforest our mountains. To plant billions of trees and mangrove forests to help sequester the carbon dioxide and at the same time help in protecting our coastline communities form devastation.
Sadly, we are still building coal-fired power plants. We wonder why our leaders are filled with the narrow economics and politics of destruction.
time to think about the air, water and food that will be
damaged due to climate events and what will happen if
all these basics are lost.
The solutions are all there and we just need the political will to implement them or face more Yolanda’s.
In my mind, the economic slowdown has achieved what the UNFCCC cop has failed to do.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, October 29, 2014
AS I write this, it seems that the EBOLA virus has spread far and wide and there seems to be no cure to this disease.
This may continue to plague the world; more than that, the EBOLA virus has become a political issue for the Obama administration and for political exercise by parties.
Worse, whoever wins the next election will do nothing to mitigate climate change. Despite the low prices of oil and coal, the main energy fossil fuels, the development model has not changed. It just has been slowed down by its own making. In many ways, the economic woes have slowed down the destruction of nature and our environment.
Europe faces another recession and is showing no signs of progress. The emerging markets are experiencing currency wars, trade problems and capital flight. The United States has registered a not so good showing despite the influx of capital due to the presumed increase in interest rates. China’s growth has slowed down. The global economy has done more bad than good. Our economic managers have failed in their duty.
Frankly, the IMF and World Bank have failed in their mandates. The development model they created is destroying us all.
The fact remains that poverty is on the rise and the poor are getting poorer. Crime is on the rise as well as human right abuses. The many wars and Arab springs are accelerating. The ISIS and EBOLA threats are considered national security threats. We would think that CLIMATE CHANGE would be as well.
The fact remains that the pollution of our environment continues as our oceans are victims of ocean acidification, given the amount of plastics and toxins that are dumped. Not to mention the many oil spills that have damaged our seas and coastlines. More and more species are going extinct.
Dead zones and gyres have increased. And the weather continues to devastate the planet.
Our biodiversity is being lost at a rate that even we don’t know. The scale of massive urban development is rising like a vertical city.
The number of people who are sick with cancer and other diseases has gone up. To make matters worse, the healthcare system set up by most countries are broke and bankrupted that they cannot even attend to the people who have invested a lot of their earnings into taxes for healthcare and Medicare benefits.
On another matter, it seems that even western medicine seems to be losing its luster for an all cure medication.
People and the medical profession seem to be going on the organic and alternative route. People want to be healthy eating vegetables and fruits and staying away from meats and unhealthy foods.
There is a lack of food and water left to sustain our ever growing environment.
We must go back to the basics. Farm our own land. Grow our own food. Grow them organically.
It is the opportune time to get out of fossil fuels as the price is at rock bottom. It is the best time to get to renewables.
I worry about the next UNFCCC COP 20 as we anticipate that nothing will happen again. We worry about the fate of our people and planet.
The United Nations World Health Organization has failed in its duty to detect EBOLA; what more of climate change which has been ravaging the planet for decades and after 20 COP-Conference of Parties.
It is time to change the people who are not making the correct decisions.
It is time to make a change.
There will be more Arab springs and there will be greater climate calamities.
It is time to change the development model.
It is time to replenish nature.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, October 22, 2014
AS I write this, the EBOLA virus is spreading faster than ever imagined. Unlike SARS and Bird Flu, this virus is moving very fast to almost every continent -- and there is no cure.
The United States and Canada are making fortress America safe by putting machines that will detect any fever and making travel ever harder to the states.
Africa is very close to Europe and may spread faster there while in Asia mitigating steps are being taken to safeguard its spread.
Looking back, we did mention countless times that new diseases would likely arise aside from natural calamities that would likely strengthen. We did mention that, increase in poverty, the loss of biodiversity, and shortage of food and water are likely too.
It has been reported that over 14 million Filipinos live below the poverty line. We believe the realistic figure is higher as the wealth does not filter down.
The culprit behind these many viruses and new diseases is pollution -- with all the filth it leaves in our oceans and our planet.
We would not like a repeat of the Irish Potato Famine. Or the great American Dust Bowl that kept the land dry for years causing famine and poverty. All these and more have manifested themselves in our life time and yet nothing but rhetoric has been our lot.
Have we not learned from the past? From Katrina, Yolanda and Ondoy?
Don’t we know that the earth is dying and climate change needs to be beaten. Mitigation is the key.
Did you know that in Louisianna, more than anyplace on earth, the seas are rising that the size of a football field goes under every day. The small island states know as they are impacted as well.
Two powerful typhoons have headed towards Japan and missed us. They would have brought heavy rains and winds that could cripple an economy.
With the UN COP 20 getting ready to meet in Paris next year, the recently held United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Climate Change did not achieve anything. It was the Climate March from all sectors of society that echoed what was needed to be addressed.
Mitigate and change the development model.
Win the war against climate change. Say these LOUD and CLEAR: ACT NOW.
is NO JOKE -- we are running out of food and water.
Poverty is on the rise as well as our population.
The economic debacle seems to be doing more good to the environment as growth has collapsed and with it mining and extraction have gone down after they have destroyed the forest.
Oil is at its all time low due to NO growth and yet we still use this fossil fuel.
It is but logical that we shift today into renewable source of energy that will secure the future of our children’s children and our civilization as we know it.
It is time to STOP the dirt and step on the brakes on pollution.
Call it changing the destructive present development model. Call us crazy like you did to many scientists and activists such as Jeffrey Rowland who singlehandedly fought the wrath of the chemical industry against CFC-Chlorofluorocarbons and won when the British agency saw the size of the OZONE layer and as a result CFCs were banned.
What would the world be today without Jeffrey Rowland and many others who fought the good fight and told the truth on the effects of fossil fuels and pollution.
Many Arab springs have broken and there seems to be no end to them. The ISIS war seems to be escalating, the Ukrainian conflict and the Chinese are pushing their weight as they choke with polluted dioxins. Believe me, the Chinese people will have their own Arab spring. Just look at Hong Kong.
The COP20 must not trade carbon dioxide but mitigate it and bring her back to 350ppm. The solutions are all in front of their eyes. Let’s do what we can in our own way and push our leaders to follow suit.
WE MUST PROTECT OUR OWN HOUSE AND COUNTRY.
As I finish this article, the World Health Association warns of the widespread areas for EBOLA and East Asia will likely be one of the victims.
Let’s take the lead from Germany and the rest will follow.
JUST DO IT.
If not, then expect more EBOLA viruses and more devastation. We will have famine and food and water shortages.
For us and our children, let’s act.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, October 8, 2014
IT was the biggest climate march in history -- rich and poor, celebrities and the unemployed, the old and the young.
They were all in New York City -- the venue of the United Nations General Assembly on Climate Change. The purpose of the summit was to talk and tackle the biggest threat to humankind.
Sadly, it was another
For nothing on Mitigation and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases was talked about. With the COP 20 coming next year in Paris and carbon dioxide breaching 400 ppm and our planet dying. A waste of time.
What was not a waste -- the many voices of people who marched the streets of New York, Paris and many cities of the world. The message was clear: Win the war against climate change.
As I write this, the world seems to be heading toward the same old development model. The United States has overtaken Saudi Arabia in oil, methane and propane extraction and supply.
This means that the old development model is here to stay. Sadly, after the United Nations Climate Change meeting last week, nothing has been done. After all the talk and rhetoric, it seems that nothing concrete will ever be done in COP 20 in Paris next year.
Even our delegation spoke of the many effects that climate change has had on our people and country. The mention of building a coal power plant was mentioned. Despite being so rich in wind, solar and hydro power.
Some sectors of government are pushing for coal and even oil power plants. These are the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels and are responsible for climate change and the destruction of our planet.
The development model has not changed despite the downward effects of globalization and the increase of poverty. The collapse of the world economies and the shortage of food and water has not put climate change the Real Agenda For Survival. Despite many calamities, floods, typhoons and storms.
Despite the melting arctic and polar ice.
Despite the shrinking and sinking of many countries such as Greenland and small nation states. Despite the worse droughts and floods.
Nothing seems to make our leaders change the development model. What will it finally take? Do we have to wait for another Yolanda?
To this day, Tacloban is far from normal. People are still living in tents and LIFE is far from normal.
Why did they all meet in New York in the UN General Assembly?
Why did they all talk about the problems and the destruction?
Why did they not talk about solutions?
We are saddened by this and so was born the largest climate change march ever held in New York, Paris and many other cities.
The people are speaking and marching. Their voices must be heard.
Recently, we traveled to Fatima in Portugal and could not believe how clean their country is. With a population of about ten million powered by mainly hydro power and about five percent of wind and one small nuclear plant. They have forest and clean rivers. They have electric cars, buses and trains as public transportation.
They are expanding more on wind and solar. Following the lead of Germany to go full blast on solar and wind.
A few countries are leading the way and we must follow suit. If not, then the people will march and do it on their own.
Climate change is real and will be worse. It is time to act with resolve and vigilance.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday,September 3, 2014
IN the 1970’s, we went scuba diving so often. To ensure our safety during our diving escapades, we used equipment called ‘buoyancy compensators’, also often called ‘stab jackets’. These establish neutral buoyancy underwater and positive buoyancy on the surface, thus the need to inflate them. They look like simpler versions of those life vests used in airplanes these days.
Who wouldn’t love the seas?
There is nothing more soothing than the sound of the waves and the way each wave replenishes itself as it caresses the shore during high tide. The gentle sea breeze has its therapeutic effect on us, as it not only cleanses our lungs but it also clears our mind and heals our souls.
While diving, it was a real treat to measure coral growth and document the bounty of our reefs! We would marvel at marine snails called ‘golden cowries’ as well as cone shells and Nautilus shells, among others.
Cone shells are undeniably popular among shell collectors. Golden cowries live under the rocks and at night, they feed on algae. These are usually used in arts, jewels and as religious symbols.
The Nautilus shells even inspired famed poet Oliver Wendell Holmes to write a poem titled “The Chambered Nautilus”. These are actually sea animals whose shells are sources of the Osmeña pearl (which is actually not a genuine pearl but a jewelry product sourced from the innermost, pearlescent blue-gray part of the Nautilus shells). Over-fishing of these shells stems from the fact that they are used as pearl substitutes.
We had witnessed how these sea animals were killed and sold. Biologist Peter Ward, from the University of Washington, expressed the same appalled reaction when he wrote that “there is a horrendous slaughter going on out there.”
Being in the center of the Coral Triangle, our country’s marine environment then was much richer. Our coral reefs covered over 22,000 sq. kms. -- larger than the coastline of continental USA.
Yes, in terms of coral reefs, we were even richer than the famed Great Barrier Reef in Australia!
The Philippine coral reefs is Asia’s 2nd largest.
However, today it is no longer the same.
During the recent State of the Nature Address (SONA) at Miriam College, Biodiversity Management Bureau’s Director, Dr. Mundita Lim, presented figures that confirmed a disappointing news: only one percent of our country’s coral reefs now remain in excellent condition. (This is a fast decline compared to a 2007 data of Reef Check, the world’s largest reef conservation organization, stating five percent).
All these damages occurred in less than 50 years! This must stop, or else we can expect a threatened future of our natural resources in the next 50 years.
Strangely enough, so little is known about the seas and their bounty. They make up over 70 percent of the earth’s surface and absorb more than 50 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
For more than forty years now, we have strongly advocated for sea protection alongside other environmental concerns. The marine environment is our home, where the marine food chain starts. It is the beginning of life.
The gyres and dead zones have expanded. Therefore, expanding marine protected areas is a must.
In Washington D.C. in early 1980s, we had strongly lobbied for the banning of the importation of Philippine corals. It was the height of a 20-year international trade when there was a demand for coral skeletons used for decorative purposes. Half of the trade originated from our country. Imagine the resistance we met as we called for the ban! Yet, we were undaunted.
We used the President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ Presidential Decree 1219, (banning the harvesting of coral) and with the help of Tom Garrett of the Animal Welfare Institute and Senator Warren Magnuson, it was amended into the U.S. Black Bass and Lacey Acts. We were ecstatic! However, with the recent data presented to us by Dr. Lim, I am saddened that our efforts seem to be in vain now.
After Typhoon Glenda, we expected nature to have taken its toll on the reefs as it did on land. In our recent dive, we were delighted to see the corals intact! The reefs stood their ground! After all, they are coral colonies made to take nature’s wrath.
What reefs could not withstand are the damages done by acidification and unregulated eco-tourism.
Lim added that our forests as well had taken a beating. From over 22 million hectares of pristine virgin forests around our country, these had decreased to less than 500,000 hectares. Our river systems and mangrove also suffered the same fate.
With the Conference of Parties (COP 20) nearing, we expect nothing binding on its agenda, as usual. For one, how can their aimless talks help us against unpredictable typhoons more ferocious than super typhoon Yolanda? How come carbon dioxide continues breaching over the 400ppm threshold?
We whole heardly oppose all their talks about carbon trading and about (Carbon) Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs)! Why? Because instead of talking about global pollution and who must be held accountable, CDMs tend to justify the present (economic) development model by passing the buck to ‘fallguys’ rather than the culprits themselves.
We must restore our biodiversity, our habitats and ecosystems. WE MUST BE SELF-SUFFICIENT. WE MUST PROTECT OUR CARBON SINKS AND STEP ON THE BRAKES ON EMISSIONS.
As an island-archipelago we must have our islands self-sufficient with clean and renewable energy. This is a doable answer that will mitigate greenhouse gases (GHG) and combat climate change, without a doubt. Once achieved, then we can rest our minds that we had done our share.
The seas are our LAST FRONTIER. Their destruction will lead to eventual demise of civilization.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, August 13, 2014
DURING the State of the Nature Address (SONA) recently held by Green Convergence, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), so many facts were presented, of which most were either disheartening or tragic.
Among the speakers were Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla, Director Mundita Lim of then Parks and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) now called Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), Executive Director Godof Villapando of the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and Climate Change Commissioner member Yeb Sano.
Director Mundita Lim said that our forest cover had been decreasing rapidly. She cited that from more than 22 million hectares of pristine forests, 93 percent of these are gone today. This was heartbreaking.
Why? Because forests are supposed to be ‘the carbon sinks’ of our country. These are the ‘lifeline’ of our terrestrial food chain. Forests and mountains are part of any country’s jewels, so to speak.
Ms. Lim mentioned that our coral reefs of over 22,000 kilometers were, once upon a time, larger than the coastline of continental USA! Now, the same coral reefs are practically destroyed. Only one percent remains in excellent condition.
This really took me by surprise since our country is at the center of the Coral Triangle. It is geographically strategic to be located at the center of the marine area where 30 percent of the world’s reefs are. However, it is an irony that most of our sheer efforts to save our coral reefs were in vain.
In 1979, in Washington D.C., we had painstakingly lobbied, using Presidential Decree 1219, for the total banning, harvesting and extraction of Philippine coral from entry to the United States. Finally, the said decree was amended into the Black Bass and Lacey Acts and signed into law in 1980 by then US President Ronald Reagan.
We were jubilant then, thinking we had achieved a great victory for saving our coral reefs from being exported and sold as dried decors in every city in the world.
Lo and behold! Despite the said ban and even the inclusion of coral reefs into the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the condition of our coral reefs remains miserable!
This must be considered a
crime, since we rely on the bounty of the seas for our
food and livelihood. The coral reefs are the beginning
of the marine food chain along with mangrove swamps and
estuaries. Once we destroy this marine food chain, then
we will be in danger of recurring food shortages.
For so many years, we expected more hopeful consequences for the improvement of our natural marine resources (underwater structures). However, in all these years, we have witnessed nothing but the continuing degradation of our natural resources!
Our country is a mega-biodiversity country in danger. The number of hot spots and dead zones have increased. Another threat is ocean acidification that has taken its toll in our marine environment.
During the recent SONA discussion, I informed Ms. Lim about a diving experience my brother and I had in Honda Bay, Palawan where the waters were polluted and coral reefs were dead! It was acidic and only jelly fishes were present, which was understandable since these species do not necessarily need oxygen.
We immediately made a report about it directly to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). Director Mitch Cuna assured that action would be taken to find out what caused the acidification.
Meanwhile, the SONA had some good news mentioned by Ms. Lim, such as the new species that have been discovered recently, notably the Agusan Marsh now holding over 27 million tons of carbon dioxide and the massive mangrove reforestation done around the country.
A good sign but not enough for us to sustain our people and planet. Yes, we have seen the planet worsen, as our forest and mountains go bald, as our coral reefs become destroyed by dynamites, muru-ami and kayakas fishing, as poverty rises and quality food becomes scarce.
Secretary Petilla, he spoke of the incoming energy crisis and the need to put light and power in place, specially coal and old fossil fuel plants. He even spoke of the government's plan to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power plant (BNPP).
We countered this by citing the experience of Germany which is taking the lead in getting out of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. We also emphasized on how cheap and affordable solar and wind power is becoming now. We urged Sec. Petilla to follow suit. (We also put forward the prohibitive cost of nuclear plants. Not one single nuclear plant is privately owned largely due to the costs).
We strongly advocated against the present (economic) development model and the need to change it. He agreed but we need to walk our talk. It's sad to see the planet change for the worse. Who cares if our economic growth rate is over 7 percent when none of it is filtered down to the people? The ecology, alongside its natural capital, is declining fast.
FPE Director Villapando mentioned about the projects they had with government and civil society groups. Sadly, he confirmed that there are indeed many cases of corruption and delays in actual project implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP). Most often, he said, those projects involve planting exotic and invasive species instead of endemic species. (He also mentioned the delays caused by delayed funding by the government counterpart.)
By the way, invasive species
are one of the biggest destroyers of our biodiversity. I
guess, ignorance of how our ecosystem works is
another. (Education in school curriculum must include
Commissioner Sano ended the forum with his experience in the climate change commission. He urged everyone to make a difference by doing our share.
With over 40 years in the conservation movement, we had fought many battles and had won a few. We're happy that more and more like-minded people now speak with conviction. This is a good example we can all show our youth. In so doing, we allow them to have an unparalleled opportunity to be unwavering environmental leaders someday.
Their own perspective will be strongly influenced by the environment they grew up with. Let it be a good one then.
If there's one war we must not lose, it is this war against climate change! With foresight, vigilance and resolve, it can be done.
We have really seen the planet change and we don’t like it.
For our children and theirs, there is no reason why it cannot be ecologically balanced.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, August 6, 2014
DURING our childhood days, I remember how we loved to catch dragonflies by their tails, only to set them free again. They were so many of them. At nights, we were fascinated by fireflies adorning the trees around us like little fairies with their lighted lamps.
We marveled at how pristine the creek waters were, so crystal clear we could even see guppies swimming. We loved to run around and play near that backyard creek!
I also remember how we used to trek cogon fields and rice paddies nearby. We brought our sling shots, in an imaginary pursuit of adventure inspired by the magnificence of nature around us. The air was so clean. There were so many birds, mostly the ‘maya costa’ species, flying by.
As years pass, I remember the mountains we went to, including Mt. Apo, Mt. Pulag and Mt. Kitanlad. These were sites beckoning to mountaineers and trekkers, too.
We also visited Mt. Arayat and the San Juan Baño trail at its foot. It was teeming with clear water and surrounded by pristine forests. It was the same marvelous sight to behold when we had vacation in Talisay City, Negros Occidental. As for Baguio City, we really enjoyed the fresh air then which always smelled of fresh pine trees.
I had a grandmother who owned a barn or ‘kamalig’ in Arayat, Pampanga. It was full of palay! As a child, I was thrilled by the sight of it! It gave me a sense of security that our family will never go hungry! I always believed all Filipino households enjoyed the same blessing.
Yes, our country had abundant supply of rice during those days. The local market then used to sell rice by the ‘ganta’ (approximately 2.25 kilos) and not by ‘kilo’ as they do today. Fresh fruits and vegetables were sold in bunches or bundles, while fish, shrimps and shells were mostly sold by clusters, called ‘ tumpok’.
Those were the good old days, the age of nature when healthy ecology was at its peak. However, as globalization and the development boom slowly moved in, our natural resources became some kind of a collateral damage.
Today, our garden thrives without dragonflies anymore. We see no more guppies in the creek that has turned so muddy. We seldom see birds in the sky. No fireflies adorn the evening anymore. Elsewhere, water sources either dried up, or become polluted.
In return to all the brouhaha of an economic development model the global leaders adopted decades ago, where is now that genuine ‘ progress’ and real ‘development’ that they assured the world of?
We have buildings and infrastructure all over, yes, but aren’t we running out of water and power? We have power failures and rotating brown outs in the Visayas and Mindanao and parts of Luzon. The water and electricity bills burden our consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
As I write this, the government has just issued a warning about an expected power shortage in Luzon next year. We have just been hit by recent typhoons Glenda and Henry. The affected areas, including Metro Manila, are still being restored back to normal. Being in the typhoon season now, we expect more typhoons to arrive in our country with more ferocity and strength.
Meanwhile, in the global scene, we hear war looming everywhere. There are reports about Russian missiles downing Ukrainian aircrafts. There were news about ‘drones’ (unmanned aerial military vehicle) killing people! As the Gaza and Palestine problems deepen, there are reports about the jihadist ISIS ( Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) actively fueling the inter-rebel conflict in the Middle East.
We hear news about successive commercial airline accidents taking lives of their passengers and crew. All these heartbreaking news as progress and development continue.
We hear of many Arab springs, as the war for water and resources worsens. We are running out of water -- the source of all life -- and yet they continue to embrace that old economic development model that never worked since the onset!
We have increased poverty. The world’s life style have become more materialistic, commercialized, stressful and poorer in quality. What has become of us and our planet?
What is to become of us with all these conflicts arising all in the name of oil and greed? What are our leaders doing? Who really cares about the Conference of Parties (COP 20) in Paris and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) if these do not help in mitigating and combating climate change?
While global leaders are lacking in foresight and action, the environmental culprits are having their heyday! They want to build more coal power plants. What a disgrace!
The miners are still
extracting at an accelerated pace. BPH Billiton vows to
lead the iron ore race.
These culprits, abusers and polluters try to outdo each other for the sake of a deflated piece of paper they call ‘money’! In return to catering to their insatiable greed, they leave us with a destroyed planet!
And our planet and people are dying. We have over two billion people living below the poverty line. Most are without access to water and sanitation. What is to become of them?
In drought-stricken California alone, their State Water Quality Control Board led by Felicia Marcus, confirmed in a report that everyone is expected not to waste water or else will be fined up to $500 a day for residents ‘who waste water on lawns, landscaping and car washing’.
How much longer will we survive as a people before the planet seizes to sustain LIFE?
We need to think of ourselves and the future generation. We all must plant trees, protect our forest and seas. Our daily lifestyle must always adhere to the ‘recycle, reuse and reduce’ principle. This must be cultivated in every Filipino household and in every learning institution.
We must go out of our way to encourage others to plant mangroves and tree seedlings. We must compel ourselves to have food security and be self-sufficient, resourceful and never lose the initiative. We must heighten the environmental campaign not only in the grassroots but in the higher strata of society and among our government leaders, who all must ‘walk-the-talk’!
Personally, how I miss the good old days when things were simpler, cleaner, more abundant. The quality of life was so high and people then were happier and healthier. Those were days when birds of various species would fly in the skies. Butterflies and dragonflies were everywhere, and the air was cooler.
It’s time to get what we deserve: a better home in a healthier planet. We need to do it all on our own and together we can make a BIG difference! I do believe in getting small acts together to overcome a bigger challenge. There are no options that work better than that.
What will become of us will be the signature of all our efforts today.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, July 30, 2014
FINALLY, the third part of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) trilogy report on global warming was released recently. IPCC issued the first part, on climate science, in September 2013. The second report, on impacts of climate change, came out this March.
However, there is nothing new in the voluminous ‘assessment’ report. That’s the impression of those who have been continuously advocating that mitigation is the only way to win the battle against climate change and global warming.
Based on the report of Clive Cookson, the UN’s IPCC report focuses on mitigation, specifically on how to fight rising temperatures and that is by limiting the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The objective is to keep the average temperature rise below 2 degrees Centigrade.
“This is a message of hope,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, an energy expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who was a co-chair of the roughly 500-page report. He said that the most immediate need is to end the renaissance of fossil fuels particularly coal for power generation in China, India and elsewhere.
“To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business-as-usual,” Edenhofer underscored.
The report cited the lack of action by the concerned parties for the last 20 years despite all the manifestations on the effects of global warming.
Consider also the extreme weather conditions and climate shifts, the record-breaking heat and cold, the devastating winter storms, the floods and super typhoons like Yolanda, etc.
What future awaits the world as population and poverty continue to increase while crop yields and fish catch continue to decline?
Water, the source of all life, is becoming depleted. This is where we all must be alarmed.
The future is painted grim as more Arab springs arise these days and war for natural resources begins to escalate. But why doesn’t anybody notice?
The IPCC report called on governments to use political will and to use funds for renewable energy if only to mitigate the greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere.
Already breaching over 400 ppm (parts-per-million), carbon dioxide must be reduced to at least 350ppm needed to sustain life.
Incidentally, London’s air
has turned into smog while air pollution in China is now
over 2.5 ppm.
While these occur, California is suffering its worst drought ever.
The report said that ‘a window of opportunity is present and we need to act fast. The cost of renewable energy such as solar and wind have gone down.’
The report could not have come at a better time when the global economy continues to falter and when record climatic events are taking their toll.
So, what took the UN so long to come out with its report? Only when they are impacted do they act?
The facts had always been there. The data given is, in fact, the most widely-read chapter.
At least a reduction of 2 percent of global GDP was estimated to be lost by climate change.
If the economic impact was negative due to climate change then, as I understand it, we can only blame greed and lack of foresight. These two factors seem to be holding back the leaders from waging war against global warming.
Money and profits are their priorities at the expense of loss of biodiversity and of life.
These inept leaders put social and ecological wealth at the bottom of their priority list. And now IPCC calls on all governments to act?
With this, it is hoped that the parties to the convention take stock and drastically reduce all emissions.
According to The Financial Times, the disastrous effects of climate change can still be prevented. Some leading climate scientists believe that a concerted global effort and a heavy investment on renewable energy sources can both effectively cut carbon emissions.
is a role model of a country determined to get out
of nuclear power and fossil fuels. With success, it
shows the rest of the world how to expand and fast track
the switch to renewable power.
The worsening climate change itself is a final warning and must be heeded.
Hence, whatever political will need must be used with resolve and fast.
In effect, global polluters who shrug off the IPCC report’s recommendations must be held legally liable and be condemned guilty of crimes against humanity.
Once these culprits are given
the iron fist, then we may still have time to save our
planet and people.
The IPCC reports may have been issued on time.
Nonetheless, it is still our action that speaks louder than their words.
Ground floor modelo building II, Narrazid cor. Bataraza poblacion brookespoint. Tel 0943-7018706
(By: Antonio M. Claparols – President ESP) Peoples Journal Tonight, Editorial – Wednesday, July 23, 2014
HOWLING winds and the lashing rains confirmed that the disastrous typhoon Glenda (international code name: ‘Rammasun’) had swept all over Metro-Manila. Packed with turbulent winds of 185 kph, it struck many parts of Luzon and even battered the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, leaving the country after 48 hours with many dead and missing.
Trees, both young and century-old ones, were uprooted and floods were reported. Worse, power and basic goods ran short of supply and communication lines were badly affected. The metropolis was in shambles.
Typhoon Glenda, the ninth officially named storm and the third typhoon of the annual typhoon season, spared no one -- may it be the rich or the poor, the workers or the unemployed, the city dwellers or the indigenous peoples in the mountains or those residing by the coastline. Classes were suspended and most offices closed for a day.
Compounding the situation was the fact that while Glenda’s rains had not stopped yet, there were at least two other typhoons expected to ensue. As of this writing, a ’state of calamity’ has been declared in Albay, Camarines Sur and Norte as well as Cavite.
Typhoon Glenda was weaker in strength compared to its predecessors such as typhoons Ondoy, Milenyo or Yolanda. However, its scope had also affected the entire Luzon and most parts of the Visayas.
Imagine the consequences had typhoon Glenda hit Manila directly with Yolanda’s strength! Then the country could have been paralyzed as a ’seat of power’ and supplies would have been devastated. Shortage of power, water and food would not have been an impossibility. God forbid!
Before the typhoon, I told a friend from Nueva Ecija to brace up and harvest his rice farm while early. It was good when he said all his rice fields had been harvested earlier than expected as preventive measure indeed.
Another good example was shown by Albay. Earlier, Albay Governor Joey Salceda had cancelled classes before the typhoon came so everyone could prepare better. The province remains without power.
A friend in the energy and power business told us that the national grid had been badly hit. Restoring power will take time.
On one hand, I am saddened by the fact that we all know that our country gets an average of 20 to 25 typhoons yearly. We had been made aware by countless typhoon experiences that had befallen our nation. We are vulnerable year after year.
On the other hand, I am happy, though, that there seems to be heightened awareness and foresight for preparation this time around.
While Tacloban still suffers from the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda, with many of their residents still living in tent houses, we are faced with many unpredictable typhoons to come.
Yes, climate change is the major cause, no doubt. However, our experience has proven that if we have our forests intact, then we would have actually mitigated and reduced the damages of climate change.
A recent Financial Times issue mentioned that the shortage of water may be more of a threat than climate change. This I believe, since our water resources are finite and just wasted.
World leaders must make water scarcity a bigger priority than climate change because the problem is far more urgent than global warming -- a warming raised by the chairman of one of the world’s biggest food companies.
’I am not saying climate change is not important.
What I am saying is even without climate change, we are running out of water and I think this has to become the first priority’, Nestle Chairman Peter Bradec said, adding that global warming got more attention because it had ‘better ambassadors’ such as Nobel Prize-winning scientists and Hollywood film makers.
Personally, I find it absurd that climate change issues can only gain leaders’ attentive ears once discussed in the presence of such ’better ambassadors’.
These are not issues where fame and popularity have a rightful place.
This is a global issue of everyone and everything's survival and right to live! The more convincing people listen to are those who have been into the frontline, who continue to experience and document the impacts of global warming and climate change.
Add to that those who sacrifice their lives to pursue the cause.
They are the ones who attest that water crisis is real and need more urgent attention since water is LIFE and we are running out of this vital finite resource.
Again, we urge leaders to heed our call that the old and futile economic model must be changed. Water, food, lives and the quality of life must be factored in so they can come up with a more sensible, appropriate and precise economic model. They must not consider monetary paper gains as their sole benchmark!
For what good is all the money once we reach a turning point when there will be nothing to buy anymore?
Nowadays, the real calamity is not posed by weather unpredictability alone. With the climate change issues continuing, more and more are suffering from lack of food and water.
That is the real state of calamity! Otherwise, the fury of Yolanda will only be a pale warning for more ferocious, killer super-typhoons to come.
WE always enjoy going for a dive and assessing the state of the coral reefs and the species that they harbor.
The seas have become our home as we started our environmental passion underwater -- the greatest classroom on earth.
We drew inspiration from the Cousteau Society and our mentor Jacques Yves Cousteau. Oh yes, we did follow the man who invented SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Our instructor then was Col. Ellis Gilliland part of the Underwater Demolition Team of the US Navy. Our certification: NAUI.
How we love the ocean and all that it harbors.
How we look forward to diving.
Each dive, each site is different.
After all, we are in the center of the coral triangle.
When we were younger, we would log our dives, measure coral growth, document the state of the site and take photos of what we saw.
It is amazing to see the bounty of the seas -- the rich coral reefs.
Yet many times we are saddened to note that not many people know the value of coral reefs.
They harbor marine life and are one of the marine ecosystems foundation where food chain begins; the others are mangrove swamps and estuaries.
Last week, we celebrated the World Oceans day and we were documenting our dive. We were saddened to see that the bounty of the reefs and sites had less fish than usual and that the reefs were not as healthy as they used to be.
Gone were the school of Jack fishes and turtles and many other species we used to see. What was worse was that we saw piles of plastic underwater and on the surface.
This was compounded with an influx of foreign and local divers who have no respect for the fragile coral reefs.
They just come and dive in groups of countless divers. Like an army attacking fortress coral reefs.
Gone is the sacred rule in diving: the buddy system. Welcome the diving army.
Sure we need eco-tourism but we must control them and they must respect our coral reefs and dive sights.
It takes coral reefs years to grow an inch and only a second to destroy. Many of them touch the reefs like a pet or a toy.
It has been over forty years since we have began diving at the islands many beautiful dive sites.
Many of those sites have been destroyed, the coral reefs with them.
Aside from uncontrolled diving and respect for the corals, climate change has bleached many of our pristine coral reefs.
To our surprise, the waters were warmer than usual. A sure sign that global warming and climate change are real.
Should we allow tourists to dive our precious coral richness and see the marvel that they harbor? Then, we must put regulations that they must not touch and destroy our natural heritage or else our center of the coral triangle is in danger.
Sadly, not only the sites in our country have been victims of pollution, over tourism and climate change but the harvesting and exploitation of our corals still continue.
In 1980, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued PD 1219 banning the harvesting and extraction of coral reefs.
Together with Tom Garrett of the Animal Welfare Institute we went to Washington D.C. and with the help of Senator Warren Magnusson, we had the coral ban amended into the Black Bass and Lacey Acts of the United States. Making Philippine coral banned from entry to the US. That same year, the amendments were signed into law.
And we were jubilant, thinking that our coral reefs had been saved.
I suppose they were then and more and more coral was growing freely and healthy. The amount of divers also increased.
However, the knowledge of the people of the value of coral reefs has not.
Coral reefs are the beginning of the marine food chain and without them we will have no fish in the seas.
They are fragile and take a long time to grow. Ocean acidification is taking its toll in the destruction of our coral reefs and marine species.
We must be more vigilant and protect and conserve our coral reefs and make sure that the coral triangle is protected.
For once destroyed, they are gone forever.
As I prepared last month to fly to Boston to attend the graduation of my youngest son, Andres, I was flushed with pride at being the father of this young gentleman.
Andres, 22, graduated from Boston University with a double summa cum laude, in mathematics and business administration. When he was in high school, he represented his alma mater, Xavier School, in various competitions in statistics.
Days before the graduation ceremony, which was to be held outdoors, the weather was unpredictable. A forecast of rain worried us. Well, when people talk about Boston, they usually say, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a while. It will change.” And so it did. On Andres’ two graduation days, we were blessed with wonderful weather!
I had arrived in the United States to cool spring weather, although many parts of the country were experiencing droughts and severe heat waves.
Apparently, extreme heat is felt not only in our country but elsewhere in the world. The weather swings are much greater in variance than usual.
These days, the unpredictability of the weather must be considered while preparing for a journey to any part of the globe. In fact, seasoned travelers know they must pack all sorts of clothing when going on a trip. One never knows when the temperature will abruptly turn to freezing cold or scorching hot. Adaptation is now a necessity.
During Andres’ commencement ceremony, the guest speaker, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, spoke candidly about his life and the role of the graduating class of 2014. He spoke about “the age of smartphones” in which we now live, an era of impersonal communication, albeit fast and accessible. He dwelled on the importance of real presence and face-to-face conversation as against the faceless world of social media. He elaborated on how the human touch, devoid of words or photos, is so important in daily communication and daily life.
Patrick was right. Technology is supposed to make this world a better place, “a smaller village,” so to speak. Isn’t it ironic that in this modern world, the gadgets we use to communicate seem to build more walls than bridges?
He noted the importance of the good old days when letters written with pen and paper and sent by “snail mail” had stronger influence. He observed how someone’s real presence always had a deeper impact on another, more than any technological fix and amenity that the world has succumbed to.
From Deval’s viewpoint, I can only ask: How many times has the course of world history changed with a mere “stroke of a pen”?
Also food for thought of great importance is the environment, with the failure of both the Conference Of Parties and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to come to any agreement of consequence.
Carbon dioxide levels have breached over 402 ppm from the last count. The glaciers and the Arctic ice continue to melt faster than expected. Water resources—the source of all life—are on the verge of depletion.
Election fever is rife in the United States, and climate change will be—or should be—a focal issue in the electoral arena. But only 25 percent of the voting population take climate change seriously.
Still, many are striving to make climate change a No. 1 priority in the US electoral campaign. Among them is billionaire Tom Steyer, who has vowed to donate $100 million to make climate change a top electoral issue.
All over the world, change is occurring.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings new hope for the subcontinent. In Thailand, a vital sign of an Arab spring rises as martial law is imposed. In Ukraine and in Russia, the battle for resources continues.
In the Philippines, El Niño threatens warmer temperatures and very little rainfall, the dire effects of which, according to the weather bureau, will be felt starting in September.
With all these environmental threats, one wonders: Is there anyone really speaking for and in behalf of Nature?
At Boston University during Andres’ graduation, the dean of the College of Mathematics spoke of how “critical thinking” is so vital in changing our world today. (Only 1 percent of the university’s graduating class took up the challenging course in mathematics, my son included. It’s a course where critical thinking is required.)
These young graduates, like their peers worldwide, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to find new ways to solve the world’s problems, specifically our dying environment. As the old economic model falters due to lack of critical thinking by those behind it, the youth will now have to step up. It’s their time, and they will inherit the earth.
I keep my hope high that our generation can still help mitigate the effects of global warming and that we can leave our children a better planet.
I am a proud father of Andres and I am making no secret about it. May his achievement, diligence and determination be an inspiration to our youth. He did his family proud, and his country as well.
But more than my pride is my hope that Andres’ generation will have a better environment and a healthier ecology than what we have now. The youth must face the world armed with critical thinking, and do what must be done to change the development model that has failed us.
It’s their time.
THERE seems to be a little light at the end of the dark tunnel ahead as US President Barack Obama seems to be bent in pushing for the mitigation of greenhouse gases in the United States and making his administration act on global warming and climate change.
The United States is second to China as the world’s largest emitters ofcarbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Recent headlines of The Financial Times read: “Obama in US Push onClimate Change,” as reported by Barney Jopson in Washington and Ed Crooks in New York.
This is music to my ears. It gives us all hope! Saying that President Obama wants to make action on climate change as part of his legacy, the FT reports that the Obama administration has launched the biggest move the US has ever taken to combat climate change.
That move was proposing, for the first time, to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power stations which are the main source of climate pollution.
This is a daring move that has the potential to transform the US electricity sector. However, it is also expected to spark a wave of legal and political battles.
The Republican Party has reacted sharply against the plan specifically on coal plants.
This was welcomed in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere as a jolt that could resurrect deadlocked climate change talks in the global arena.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that targets for emission cuts, designed to reduce dependence on coal-fired power plants, were equivalent to cancelling out climatepollution from two-thirds of all cars and trucks in the United States. A good sign, indeed.
The United States’ carbon dioxide emissions come from transport making up 32%, electricity making up 38%, industry 14% and the balance residential and commercial uses.
In 1990, the US emitted 6,233 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In 2007, it increased to 7,325 million metric tons. The report also indicated that the US emits 17.6 million tons per person and it is forecast to reduce it to 14.7 million tons.
By 2030, the US administration wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power stations by 30 percent from 2005 levels.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group, describes the EPA’s proposal as “a giant leap forward”. We join the the rest of the world in this initiative and hope that it can be done sooner rather than later.
The natural calamities that have swept the United States and the entire planet have done tremendous damage.
The extreme droughts and ravaging floods, the freak snow storms and unpredictable climatic changes have taken their toll in the ecology, water, agriculture and the global economy.
These are now even compelling us to a change of everyday lifestyle to cope with the unpredictability of weather patterns and the climate itself.
Obama will do what no other American presidents had done. He is combating climate change by reducing emissions by 30 percent. I do hope that this will translate to concrete action.
Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch said: “When Obama took office, there were claims he was going to be our greenest president,” he said. “Now people are saying that he’s among the three most environmental US presidents of the 21st century!”
Should this initiative succeed, then the time for a better change is at hand. It is our last chance. Should it fall short of our expectation, then our planet will be in peril.
With our prayers, we fully support President Obama’s objective against climate change.
Of all that he had achieved as President of a superpower nation, Obama’s legacy as a climate change eco-warrior is what will lead us all to a more sustainable world.
It will be his final legacy worth resounding in future world history pages.
Now, that creek is gone, destroyed by so-called ‘ development’ that took over the area.
Such scenario -- drying up of rivers and creeks -- occurs everywhere due to man-made development and worsening climate change.
Well, the scourging heat is upon us once again. After a long hiatus, the monstrous El Niño phenomenon is expected to return this year. Reminiscent of how it struck in the late ’90s, it is foreseen as more intense that weather analysts calls it ‘super’ El Niño this early. It is feared to cause harsher droughts, above all.
El Niño is a recurring weather pattern emanating from increased temperature from the tropical Pacific Ocean. As climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research explained:
“The trade winds at this point usually weaken or even reverse entirely, moving warm water eastward. As it travels, this warm water starts emerging from deep in the ocean and heating up the atmosphere...leading many researchers to predict a monstrous El Niño is on its way.”
The phenomenon can disrupt cycles of fish and other living species in the oceans. This means more fish kills that leads to higher meat costs and other economic imbalances that eventually affects household lifestyles.
Super El Niño means extreme heat and the warming of the oceans, fish kills and shortages of water and power compounded with poor crop yields and worse, a water shortage.
This is nothing new to us all. It is the same thing every year only with more intensity. Power shortages are felt nationwide. The food security of our country is already in danger as prices have increased.
The economic consequences of super El Niño will definitely have their worst impact on those who are already in the poverty level. The Philippines, reportedly the 28th country with largest economy, belies the report with poverty seen everywhere.
As heat scourges the land as well, crop yields will be minimal with their quality being at its lowest. Thus, prices will increase unreasonably.
Productivity will fall, poverty will increase and heat-related diseases will surface. Everyone will say, ‘blame it on El Niño.’ What I fear most is that our water resources may be rationed by then.
As I write this, an advisory has warned us of the critical water levels in almost all of the Luzon and Mindanao dams including Angat, Ambuklao, Magat and Binga.
I cannot fathom the effects of a water rationing scenario. A possible depletion of our water resources is totally unimaginable! Not in an agricultural country like ours.
Should it happen, people will rise and fight to do anything they can to simply survive. One can live a few weeks without food. But never without water.
Mindanao will be impacted badly. A good friend in Mindanao, recently told me that Lake Lanao, Lake Dapao and major rivers that traverse through Ramain, Lumba Bayabao, Matling, Kapai-Tagoloan and Butig could have generated enough power to energize Mindanao and Visayas. Both the Mandulog river and the Bacolod river in Lanao del Norte can reportedly augment the power grid in Maria Cristina.
Only 1% of the revenues earned from the Agus river system goes to the National Wealth Tax, as a form of ‘thank you’ to Lanao provinces. La’ana tullah!
My friend surmised that other countries would have developed these sources of energy decades ago. Instead, our government salivates on cutting trees for quick profit, thereby endangering the watershed area. That is what they call ‘development’!
Biodiversity is continuously being destroyed by unabated logging of our forest and pollution of our seas and entire planet. Yet, governments and corporations are going full-scale with their so-called ‘development’ model that never serve its purpose at all!
The war for resources have began a long time ago and is escalating, unnoticeably. China is pushing its weight and taking control of the Pacific while bullying its way to a war against the Philippines and other small countries. Russia has waged its own war against Ukraine and it can easily shut down its oil and gas distribution to Western Europe.
Why? Obviously for resources.
It is time to take stock and pressure our leaders that a shift in their development model and consumption patterns must be changed. No more excuses.
Most of our natural resources are just waiting to be tapped and be equally-distributed for everyone’s benefits. But these must be defended against greed at all cost!
Sadly, with an average age of 22 years, it seems most of today’s youth do not realize the value of our environment and the vital importance of a healthy ecology.
Our youth must be enjoined to participate in reforestation and conservation activities. They must be encouraged to defend the rights of our natural resources. We need a collective effort to keep our water flowing safe and clean.
After all, without water -- ‘the source of Life’ -- we have nothing left worth talking about.
IT is the time of year when the summer heat bears down upon us.
However, these days the summer heat turns into a scourging inferno affecting everyone and everything on this planet.
It has been over four months and three weeks since super typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Philippines. It leveled the city of Tacloban and is still affecting other cities and communities in its aftermath.
Surprisingly, those behind the United Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change (UNFCCC) are still debating on the report.
Recently, the Financial Times issue a report by Pelita Clarke titled ‘Leading Climate Scientists in Clash over ‘Silly’ Statement on Report’. The title alone spoke for itself.
How petty can those scientists be to continue colliding with each other while the entire planet is in peril!
Chris Field, professor of Environmental Studies at Stanford University, reportedly commented about Professor Richard Tol of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. Tol is the senior author of the report’s chapter on climate change and economic impacts.
As FT’s Pilita Clark reported, Prof. Tol asked last week that his name be removed from the study’s summary, a widely-read section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC). Tol believed that the report was an ‘alarmist’ and included ‘silly statements’ about the vulnerability to climate change of people in the war zones.
The chief author of the study by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) challenged the views of an economist drafting a key chapter.
How can an entire climate change program be stalled because two of the world’s leading climate change researchers busily clash over a report on the impacts of global warming and rising sea levels?
As of this writing, the Financial Times reported that Prof. Tol could not be reached for comment.
This is preposterous since the planet heats up to levels unattainable for the people and planet.
Consider the other undeniable facts of agricultural crop yields such as wheat and maize being hit and are declining, the reduction and shortage of water everywhere, the melting glaciers and strange and climatic events globally, the shrinkage of up to 2 percent of the global GDP.
The prevailing global environmental ills obviously put weight on the corporate wheels. These companies start to overhaul their management policies to cope. Some giant companies recently offered higher compensation package to their employees willing to risk their health and lives once they agree being based in air-polluted China.
Alongside are some of the best known US companies taking water supplies into account in making business decisions.
AT&T, the US telecommunication giant and Hershey’s, one of the world’s largest confectionary makers, are among those taking such steps as California confronts a prolonged drought and the world supplies of water are stressed.
The latest findings of the UN-IPCC also takes the dying condition of the oceans into account.
The oceans produce over 50% percent of our oxygen and produce over 80 million tons of food each year. These underpins energy, medicine, transportation and job creation.
“The IPCC report confirms the current rate of ocean acidification is at least 10 times faster than anything recorded in the past 65m or even 300m years.
Meanwhile, fish catch is likely to decline at tropical latitudes. The threats continue to hound us with the risk of severe ill health and disrupted livelihoods. Disrupted power and water supplies already occur everywhere.
There is now a reported higher risk of extinction rate of species and slow destruction of the food web. Coral reefs, where the food chain starts, are in gravest danger.
More forests are dying and increased acidification of the oceans is alarming.
Even as the world witnessed the Conference of Parties (COP 19) being held by the UNFCC last September, it was the same time when factual and devastating events occurred: from Katrina in the United States to Yolanda in the Philippines.
What are the leaders’ priorities? What is their agenda? Is the UNFCCC doing its job? I really doubt it.
If they do, and excellently, then why does our planet continue to heat up? Why do the seas continue to rise and why do new diseases arise due to the worsening environmental condition?
There are already many Arab springs rising. War over natural resources is now arising in Ukraine.
Here in the Pacific, there is
prevailing animosity among neighbouring countries
(including the Philippines) due to the intrusion of
China to our territorial waters and our islands.
We all witness how China is waging its own “war against pollution” as the prevailing ‘air-pocalypse’ continues to destroy cropland and endanger lives.
As it experiences its worst environmental condition, we can only but surmise what really compels China to pursue its stubborn intrusion to our national territory.
Starvation can lead people to instinctively go to war of resources, for the sake of survival. This is what we fear most.
Hence, we cannot allow our
efforts to be stalled by a report on arguing experts and
The world must act to mitigate greenhouse gases (GHG). It must adapt and restore our forests and mangrove swamps.
We must all act and not delve on mere words. Our biodiversity is being lost at alarming rates. Its gradual destruction will eventually lead to extinction.
Nature is sending out warning signs to all of us, so fast and so soon.
The signs around us are crystal clear. No debate is necessary. No argument is needed.
THE situation in Tacloban is critical. Our visit there after four months showed no sign of rehabilitation; more like everything is in a state oflimbo.
When the sun sets, there is only darkness broken by a few street lights. There are good Samaritans helping the people -- but most of those helping appeared to be foreigners.
Most of the people in Tacloban still live in tents. The plan to rehabilitate it is not clear.
Tacloban must be re-located to higher ground inland as more severe super typhoons, coming from the Pacific Ocean, will continue to ravage the island.
Time is of great essence and government needs to act fast.
The recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that the only way to win the war against global warming and climate change is to mitigate and keep temperatures below the 2C degrees rise.
Tacloban, like many other cities impacted by climatic changes, must be ready for more storm surges.
We need to learn from the past and be ready.
We need to move or relocate the city to safer grounds.
If it must be, a new Tacloban is in order and will serve as an example to the world that we can do it.
There is urgent need to reforest the mountains and plant mangroves to protect the city against future storm surges.
Mangroves will help protect the land.
Natural barriers are a must.
We saw more foreigners working than government people. Why is that so?
Politics must not get into the way of the people.
Remember Yolanda and you remember Tacloban. This city beckons deeply to those who care to help sincerely.
AS China’s Prime Minister announced that they would begin to combat the worsening toxic air and climate change; at the same time, devastation of the environment continues globally: winter storms, severe droughts, unemployment on the rise. Poverty rising faster than the population growth, Arab springs occurring here and there, man-made pollution worsening.
The list goes on.
Panasonic of Japan is the first global company that is sending its employees to China with a premium in pay.
The Japanese group unveiled the changes citing the high level of Pm 2.5. (Particulate matters of 2.5 micrograms or less can enter the blood stream through the lungs and cause asthma, cancer and heart strokes.)
It is tantamount to buying off the health risks the employees would be dealing with once they will be based in a country fighting off the worst pollution on record.
For the employees’ part, it will be an irresistible offer that leads to an accept-at-your-own-risk decision.
In short, business goes on. Is this how such environmental hazards should be confronted?
Should human beings be made as sacrificial lambs before leaders start acting on the root causes of pollution?
I am still perplexed as to why world leaders refuse to change the economic development model.
Why do they continue with the old ways that has been proven to devastate countries and communities?
Why do they still use coal and oil, the dirtiest forms of energy, after these were proven to be the culprits destroying our planet and people?
The Financial Times recently reported that with the low demand for iron ore, copper and other building metals and due to the slowdown of growth in China, more mining companies (such as Rio Tinto, BPH Billiton and many others) will lose billions of dollars after they have destroyed the environment and biodiversity to mine the ore.
Now, with the slowdown of China’s economy as well as the pending global economic slowdown, there are no signs of recovery.
Ever since, we have forewarned that, in due time, the demand for metals would slow down.
Did these mining companies heed our forewarnings? We have argued, time and again, that once forests are destroyed they cannot be replaced.
Unfortunately, they even stubbornly went full blast in their wanton drill-and-extract operations.
Obviously, insatiable greed for profits overstepped the necessity to respect the cycle of nature. Mining has a very long gestation period before the ore and metals are put to use. When they start a mine, they cut the forests whether open pit or tunnels.
The forests -- also called the “lungs of the planet” -- sequester man-induced carbon dioxide and give us the much-needed oxygen to sustain life.
A destroyed biodiversity is lost forever.
Elsewhere, The Financial Times also recently reported that El Niño weather warning puts farmers on high alert. That puts commodities investors and farmers in a state of low food yields.
It also reported that the Wall Street braces for a 25%-fixed-income fall while Europe is one step away from deflation.
How can the world survive these challenging times without compromising a healthy lifestyle boosted by clean water and naturally-organic meals on the table?
What good is all this so-called
“development and progress” if they have made life more
difficult for us all?
Where is “development” or “progress” when it faces food shortages, scarcity of water, new diseases and increased poverty?
Enough of this narrow economics and politics of destruction!
Time is running out and changes must be made in the global arena. We cannot afford to wait for the big players to act.
They won’t! We need to do it on our own by reforestation and by slowing down emissions.
We need to educate our population.
We need a big change in our attitude and way of thinking -- a massive paradigm shift -- for the well-being of the people and planet.
We must collectively speak against global polluters and environmental culprits!
Unless we all heed to the warning signs of nature, we shall become unsuspecting accomplices to the destruction of our environment.
The time to change is NOW!
TACLOBAN CITY—I had long planned on visiting Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte, to enjoy a panoramic view of nature. I had also long wanted to visit the famous landing site of the late American general Douglas MacArthur in the town of Palo. After he was ordered to leave Bataan for Australia during World War II, MacArthur promised the Filipino people that he would return. It was a promise that boosted the Filipinos’ fighting spirit against the Japanese occupiers. Thus, the landing site has become symbolic of hope and commitment.
The plan to fly to Leyte was stalled when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” beat us to the draw in November last year. It was only last week that our visit finally pushed through. And my brother Javier and I witnessed, with heavy hearts, the devastation wrought by Yolanda’s wrath, and the need for reconstruction and rehabilitation that remains starkly urgent to this day.
It became clear to us that the entire city and many other parts of Leyte and its neighboring islands will never be the same again.
The plane my brother and I boarded was full. We landed at the former airport, now a makeshift open terminal. The porters presented a song number as a welcoming gesture to the arrivals. Perhaps it was their way of showing gratitude and goodwill for the help pouring in from all over the world. One could feel their determination to get their city, and their shattered lives, back on track.
To our surprise, all the hotels were fully occupied, primarily by foreign relief workers. We were lucky to find a room to share at the 3-story Z-Pad Residence Hotel about 100 meters from the sea.
But when night descended, only a few dim streetlights pierced the darkness. The streets were empty; what was once a bustling city had been reduced to a seeming ghost town.
We saw in the light of day that the people who had lost their homes to Yolanda’s storm surge are still living in tents donated by various foreign governments. But we also saw how, despite their makeshift lodgings and unfortunate circumstances, the people were working to rebuild their dwellings and their lives. It was inspiring to see them staying on, refusing to uproot themselves from their city.
We likewise saw a number of Korean and Japanese nationals at work in construction activities, using their own equipment. Pieces of wood from trees felled by Yolanda were still scattered about. Coco lumber seemed to be the available building material in the reconstruction of communities.
After Yolanda, the beach is now considered a “no-build zone.” But despite the signs prominently posted near the sea and canals, many continue to violate the order.
I frankly think that the radius of the “no-build zone” should be expanded. If a new Tacloban were to rise, it must be from the interior and not from where it faces the mighty
Pacific winds. Who knows when new weather disturbances, perhaps even stronger than Yolanda, may strike again? In this rehabilitation stage of Tacloban, foresight is extremely vital to save lives and property.
But it has been more than four months since Yolanda struck, yet Tacloban’s wounds remain fresh.
Let not the deaths of Yolanda’s countless victims be in vain. We need to help Tacloban and we must do it fast. The national and local governments must unite and come up with a master plan for rebuilding. It did not seem like such a plan is now in operation.
As one of the initial steps, the government should consider providing the residents of the hard-hit areas with tax relief. Why add to the survivors’ suffering? They must be given incentives to stay and revive their business enterprises.
It was ironic that Yolanda struck at the time when the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention was holding its Conference of Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw, Poland. It was as if the supertyphoon were timed to jolt the world into acknowledging the immense impact of climate change. Beamed worldwide from “ground zero,” the eyewitness reports of foreign correspondents—the shocking impact of the storm surge and hurricane-force winds of the strongest storm on record to make landfall—served to deliver the alarming message that it’s later than we think. But the message was sadly lost on the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Nevertheless, the lessons learned are the most important. Rehabilitating the environment of Leyte (and neighboring Samar) is a necessary collective effort. There is a need to plant more mangroves and to engage in reforestation for starters.
We must adapt and prepare. We must mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and show the rest of the world that it can be done.
A fighting spirit is what is needed against a war we all must win: a war against climate change. Let the rehabilitation of Leyte be a showcase of how our fighting spirit works.
Tacloban rising from the rubble will again be the Filipinos’ symbol of hope and commitment, not only in history books but in reality.
I HAD always thought that, as years pass, we would make this world a better place, Just where did such hopeful thinking emanate from?
Well, during our younger days, the mountains were populated by green, pristine forest. Rivers were crystal clear. Farms were rich in yield and there was a mega-biodiversity in our country.
We had everything needed for self-sufficiency. Our natural resources, both marine and terrestrial, were immense.
Most Filipino households enjoyed healthier meals and better, happier lifestyle.
Then development started creeping in. Changes became visible everywhere, as traditional houses were phased-out to give way to high-rise buildings.
Mountains and forests started transforming from being very lush to being bald.
Rivers ounce filled with bounty turned to silted, polluted waters. Progress and development were on their way.
However, development began to erode wellness and happiness. It was killing our biodiversity.
These days, even China continues to wallow in a poisonous smog of filth and polluted air, with the air quality recorded at its worse (breaching *700 plus concentration of particulates).
The worse record is in the province of Shijiazhuang. The Chinese people continue to live in a toxic environment which their leaders stubbornly describe as “progress and development”.
With the population of China either aging or very young, they are the victims of a polluted environment laced with carbon monoxide, sulphur oxide and other toxic oxides.
As part of their daily needs, their population continuous to purchase masks and air filters in an attempt to save themselves from this TOXIC greed of those behind their “development and progress”.
Comparatively, the progressive United Kingdom enjoys good and clean air at its record of 30 while the United States has 34.
The air moves all around the atmosphere and is not limited to the root source. It has no boundaries.
It spreads and pollutes the neighbouring countries and the global atmosphere. What makes it worse is how it contributes a lot to global warming and climate change.
Is this what they call wellness of LIFE? I don’t think so. We believe that China, along with the rest of the world, must veer away from the old economic model.
We need to change our economic model after it was proven to be the root cause of pollution, global economic crisis, poverty, corruption and biodiversity loss.
As of this writing, a powerful winter storm, including flash floods in California, is expected to affect the lives of over 100 million people in the United States.
How many more winter storms do we need? How many more deaths and devastation must we await?
Many Arab springs that have taken place will not stop.
Rather, these will escalate as in the case of Ukraine. Expect Thailand to follow, Many more countries will follow suit, all being under extreme pressure to survive.
The development model has failed us and the longer we cling to it the worse off we will become.
As I write this, more winter storms continue to hammer and ravage the United States.
Meanwhile, Australia is losing its beef stock due to drought and extreme heat.
Our food chain is affected and our agriculture will continue to yield lower than expected.
Ocean acidification continues to destroy the last bastion of our environment: our marine ecosystem.
Once gone the entire equation changes.
I fear that we will have a very HOT and vicious summer, when our water resources will run dry. We expect summer with unbearable heat, a summer when our fields will practically burn and a summer that would turn any vegetation into a vast, desert like expanse.
I fear many climatic events as well as war for natural resources in the horizon.
Fear. That’s the price we all have to take. All in the name of “progress and development”.
AS I write this, Lon-don and the United Kingdom are under water and experiencing the worst floods on record.
The UK began to defend its shores from rising seas due to man-induced climate change by building flood gates on the Thames to stop the flooding of London when the sea water rises. If my memory serves me right, those flood gates, ever since, have been used more than they are expected to.
Yet, there is nothing that can be done to stop the heavy rainfall and storms that continuously batter the UK.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the eastern seaboard of the United States continues to be devastated by snow storms and below freezing temperature.
Meanwhile, we had our recent trip up north to Baguio City (which name was derived from an Ibaloi term ‘bagiw’, meaning ‘moss’).
Known as the ‘City of Pines’ and the country’s ‘Summer Capital’, Baguio nowadays defies one’s high expectations of coolest climate, panoramic view of lush forests and the irresistible smell of pine trees.
Along the way, one can see many century old trees that are being cut despite the clamor of many NGOs against cutting almost 1,800 or more trees that have lined the main highway for decades. Their protests were in vain.
Does this unreasonable cutting of valuable trees explain the extreme dryness these days of the erstwhile green landscape of Baguio?
Today, it is reminiscent of the 1930s ‘Dust Bow’l that occurred in the United States, all in the name of progress.
Is it really all in the name of development and progress?
Then it’s time for a paradigm shift among the leaders behind it. I wonder that our government agencies and leaders are expecting from this disastrous so-called ‘development’.
They are violating the TOTAL LOGGING BAN! Add to that THE LAW PROTECTING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES. We know who the loggers are and yet the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has not taken any action against them. If DENR is incapacitated, why can’t if call on the law enforcers?
Trees and forests sequester man-induced carbon dioxide which has reached over 400ppm from last count and still rising?
What more proof do they need that man-induced climate change will continue its devastation for as long the abused of our environment prevails?
What makes these leaders so irresolute and passive about climate change and global warming?
Don’t they know that we are running out of water, this being the source of all LIFE?
The planet cannot sustain this old development model. IT MUST CHANGE AND BE CHANGED FAST AND SOON.
Look at how they deal with the melting Polar ice in the Arctic. Instead of ruling with an iron hand against global polluters, these leaders decided a myopic band-aid solution: they are making a business out of it! In the end, we will all suffer.
We need and we must to do it ourselves: To reforest and rehabilitate, to go into renewable energy and to redirect to organic agriculture.
To survive this calamitous times, we must all be responsible enough to conserve, preserve, rehabilitate and protect our own environmental resources.
We must remember what Eleanor Ostrom, author of ‘Governing the Commons and Noble Peace Price Laureate on Economic,’ who declared: “We must reclaim back the commons.” This she said in a conference held in Whakatane, New Zealand.
I agree with her. It is time to step on the brakes on the destructive economic model. It is time to go renewable, reuse and follow the circular economy.
Stop the carnage and de-progress. Remember super typhoon Yolanda? Nobody would want more of her kind.
DEPROGRESS AND SAVE OUR PEOPLE AND PLANET.
Other than this, there is no other way to survive.
THAT’S THE title of a movie that seemed particularly appropriate for the recent deep freeze in the United States due to the “polar vortex”, a giant swirling of cold air in the atmosphere.
Rare as it is, the polar vortex is an occurrence normally confined in the Arctic. But with the rapid melting of the polar sea ice, the Arctic is heating up quicker than the rest of the world.
And because of the acceleration of the Arctic heat-up, the polar vortex unexpectedly moved further to the south of United States, thus causing a deep in the Midwest, the Eastern seaboard, indeed the rest of America.
The extreme temperature dropped to the minus 20s and minus 30s in the Midwest, “enough for boiling water thrown from a pot to turn into snow,” as Wisconsin-based meteorologist Eric Holthaus demonstrated in a video.
On the other side of the world, in Australia, it was reported that over 100,000 bats fell from the sky because of the extreme heat.
Global warming is now indirectly causing occurrences such as the unusual polar vortex that gripped the United States and gave it an Ice Age experience.
(Looking back, while the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change was holding its Conference of Parties, or COP 19, in November 2013, the world was witness to the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda/Haiyan” on Tacloban City and other parts of Central Philippines. It will take years before these unfortunate areas fully recover.)
Photographs and footage of the winter freeze in the United States were eerily similar to scenes we saw in the movie “The day after tomorrow.” Reports of people dying in the brutal cold were literally chilling.
All these must change or we will not see the last of the polar vortex. Such phenomena can change the old business model that is destroying our planet. This business model based on greed and gold is a model of extraction, logging and deforestation.
If the UNFCCC will not find a negotiated agreement of mitigation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, then others will do on their own. Germany, for example, has expanded its renewable energy base a thousand fold.
In the Philippines, we may have been battered but our resilience is holding. We will overcome. We will continue planting mangroves and reforesting our country.
We will abate and mitigate. We will protect our oceans and forests because these sustain life and absorb 50 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
We will heed the recent intense warming signs of nature, such as Yolanda and the polar vortex.
I repeat myself: We all must do our role in the fight against climate change. Otherwise, we will all perish.
THIS January is experiencing an unusual weather pattern considering it is a month when typhoons and floods are rare. But times are indeed changing and the climate is becoming more and more odd and unpredictable.
As of this writing, thousands are displaced by heavy rains and floods sweeping Visayas and Mindanao. Sadly, lives are again lost.
As the first full moon of the year rises this week, we expect the highest and the lowest of tides making the situation even worse.
What is supposed to be a pleasant month for Filipinos and tourists has changed bitterly for all. Our tourist industry, one of the pillars of our economy , has been derailed as many visitors opted to cancel due to weather impediments.
From Bohol to Boracay, from Cebu to Samar, all the way to Palawan and the Visayas, islands of beauty normally filled with tourists are badly affected.
Worse still is the fact that our agriculture has been affected. The yields will go down and poverty will increase.
Elsewhere, it is extremely opposite. Australia has bush fires and heat waves reaching record levels.
Meanwhile, ‘polar vortex’, a newly –coined term with its strong, upper-level chilling winds are freezing more than 20 states from the Eastern seaboard to the Midwest to the Northeast in the United States.
It has disrupted business, closed schools and caused flight cancelation. It will be a bitter winter for the Northern countries.
There seems to be no escape from the climate change. Man-induced disasters are increasing.
We cannot predict the weather, much less be accurate anymore.
Nature surprises us with sudden phenomena, such as Yolanda and the polar vortex, that even environmental experts are caught off-guard with. These unexpected phenomena are happening so fast, so soon!
Is it not high time to think: What cause such unpredictable weather patterns?
Could it be man-induced pollution leading to global warming or climate change? What is our role in these monstrous changes now causing unusual global weather patterns?
More and more media outlets are highlighting weather news and strange weather patterns.
Given what is occurring globally, our lifestyles and ways of living have been affected.
Believe me: there will be more Arab springs; more countries will not share their crops and food with us. I foresee a battle for natural resources, to each its own survival.
It is time to make a change. We must mitigate and abate greenhouse gas emissions and win the battle for climate change or else we will see stronger and more devastating calamities.
It is time that we embrace a new business strategy, that is, of self-sufficiency. A strategy that we have always advocated. We cannot rely on Thailand for rice, for one. We must rely on our own produce.
However, we must not allow greed and profiteering to corrupt the much-needed self-reliant system our country has to establish.
We now live in the most challenging times. We must strive to survive.
THE TIME FOR GREED AND MATERIAL PROFIT MUST STOP!
THE GOOD AND HEALTH OF OUR PEOPLE AND PLANET ARE PARAMOUNT.
We must act now! To do later will be too late for all of us.
To this day, Tacloban City and its environment still reel with the residual effects of super-typhoon Yolanda.
People need to recover yet and infrastructures need to be rebuilt --- all these will take time, money and other resources.
Classified as a ‘Category 5’ storm (with winds exceeding 251 km/h – never before recorded here – this super-typhoon was named by the World Meteorological Organization as ‘Haiyan’, a Chinese term for a seabird called ‘petrel’.
It became a wonder for meteorologists as to how and why a super-typhoon of this strength would arise in November, when the typhoon season was normally expected to have ended.
Somehow spared was Bohol which suffered the devastation of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
Looking ahead, a new moon is expected next and we know that the new moon or full moon would bring the highest of tides.
So, we expect a doubly disastrous calamity. We raise our hopes to the highest that the worst is not to happen again and all would go back to normal, God-willing.
Not even the climate experts can explain why super-typhoon Yolanda came to be.
Personally, I believe that the culprit is man-induced climate change which can trigger a super-typhoon like Yolanda or worse.
That, I am sure of.
I don't understand why the experts are perplexed by the fury and power of this super-typhoon. A typhoon from the sea draws its strength from the heat of the oceans. The hydrological process and the weather patterns, the northeast and the southeast winds -- these are among the things we learned in school.
Staunch environmentalist Al Gore has warned again of the impacts of climate change on the ecology and the global economy. Gore hopes that the greed in business will be addressed and that the leaders would care to listen. Obviously, they do not.
The United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP) 19 convened for the 19th time in Paris this Monday, to attend to the much-waited agreements on green house gas (GHG) reductions and finally engage in the battle against climate change.
Until recently, the Visayan islands had no electricity and had limited water supply. After the culprits logged her bald, Panay is now depressed, losing its resources that it once had in abundance.
I do not understand why despite a total logging ban in our country, loggers continue to destroy our forests.
We are an island archipelago and are dependent on each other.
In the midst of the national state of calamity a friend based in Antique sought our assistance after Yolanda destroyed their family’s house and properties. Several similar calls for help came our way and these were all responded to.
But where were the leaders when we needed them most? We have been in the DARK, literally!
WE MUST ACT NOW
on our own with THOSE who share our passion, aiming for
solutions to preserve our civilization and to conserve
our planet. We must fight global warming and tackle
climate change issues in all aspects before we succumb
to the impacts these issues bring with them.
Otherwise, the fury of Yolanda will only be a pale warning for more ferocious, killer super-typhoons to come.
EASTERN VISAYAS is still reeling from the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (aka “Haiyan”), the strongest on record.
Yolanda destroyed one-third of our country’s rice production, among other things, and has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, many of whose houses and properties were washed away. The death toll has breached the 6,000 mark.
Rehabilitation and reconstruction of the ravaged region will take years.
Yolanda made global news at the same time that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was holding its climate change conference in Warsaw.
As expected, the Conference of Parties (COP) 19 was disappointing, with the 195 member-countries painfully agreeing to make a “contribution,” instead of a robust “commitment,” to combating climate change. The aim is still to reach a stronger agreement in Paris in 2015. Imagine what else can happen in the two-year waiting period!
“What makes this depressing is that the world could probably eliminate the risk of catastrophic outcomes at limited cost, provided it had acted quickly, effectively and in concert,” rued Martin Wolf of The Financial Times.
In his article, “The Climate Casino,” Prof. William Nordhaus of Yale University Press cited about a dozen climate economist arguing that the cost of limiting the increase of global temperature to 2 degrees Centigrade would be just 1.5 percent of global output, provided the right actions were taken.
Skeptics argue with uncertainty, as if the right thing to do is to do nothing.
Meanwhile, Wolf said, “A particularly important aspect of that uncertainty is the tipping point. We know that earth’s climate has change sharply in the past. It is possible that some insufficiently understood process could tip the world into another and perhaps irreversible state. The collapse of large ice sheets is such a possibility; another is large changes in ocean circulation.”
The greenhouse effect is basic science. Emissions have risen rapidly. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are now more than 400 ppm (parts per million), which is 50 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution.
The message delivered by Yolanda should have knocked some sense into the COP 19 members. The message was to reduce greenhouse gases, or face more devastating storms.
If a Yolanda-like storm hit Warsaw or New York, it would have sent a stronger message: Act NOW. Why wait for COP 21 in Paris in 2015? It makes no sense. We do not have the luxury of time.
How many more people need to die? How many more countries need to be victimized by climate catastrophes?
The Arctic ice is melting fast. The oceans are changing, in fact slowly dying, due to acidification. Should this imbalance continue, our ecosystems will lose their ability to replenish and sustain the earth.
We must act now in our own ways and mitigate emissions, protect our carbon sinks and go on renewable energy. We need more mangroves, swamps and coastal forest.
Can’t we follow Germany’s lead by going fully renewable before 2050?
THE future of our planet is a mystery to me. How hot it will get? How high our seas will rise? How many more people will die? How many island states will submerge? How will the melting polar arctic ice affect our oceans? How can our planet’s end happen so fast?
Australia – particularly its capital city Sydney – was still blanketed by highly-polluted smoky haze due to a recent massive bushfire.
Here, the strongest storm ravaged the Visayas islands. The rest of Asia continues to be victims of typhoons and flash floods and landslides.
When will our world leaders begin to seriously address the real problem of climate change? For the 18th time since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate are Change (UNFCCC) was founded to mitigate climate change, nothing has happen so far. Its leaders are convening this November in the COP18 Conference of Parties. We remain hopeful for their action more than their words.
Apparently, every conference they hold only results in disappointment. How can they be so narrow minded? The United Nations is supposed to protect the people and countries, NOT destroy the planet.
How many more conference do we need to finally have an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) and man-induced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
With many calamities that continue to ravage the earth, one would think that the solutions to climate change would be reached and implemented to normalize carbon dioxide back to its life-sustaining 350 ppm level.
On the contrary, it seems that pollutions and wanton destruction of our forest and oceans continue to fast track instead of regressing.
Frankly, the global economic slowdown has reduced the destruction of our environment in many ways. Should the planet be saved by the global economic crisis, then well and good. Our fall back scenario will be a healthier lifestyle change that would lengthen the planet’s life.
In a drastic economic demand, the planet may survive but our civilization may not due to greed. The culprits are destroying our forests by converting these to a dry expanse where they plant palm oil which they call a ‘forest’. Palm oil is invasive and its NOT a forest. It is a ‘plantation’ that has no ecological value at all.
The oil plantations have grown in existence from Malaysia down to our very own Mindanao and Palawan.
Our forests have been felled so that our government can plant palm oil for “economic benefits”? What benefits are they exactly talking about?
A virgin forest is worth more than any plantation. They give us the oxygen we need. Countless living species in a virgin forest contribute to the balance of our ecosystem.
How many of them know about the important of a harmonious relationship between a forest conditions and the ocean’s health? This interconnection affecting all of us in the end does not rely on geographical basis alone.
Look at how China breathes in a dark and polluted atmosphere. Narrow economics and politics of destruction seem to rule. The present economic development model has done all the damage. Sadly, there seems to be no effort to change this destructive model.
Are we not all to be blamed for inducing, whether directly or indirectly, the prevailing climate change?
Countless lives are lost, countless more are suffering.
Do we need another earthquake and super typhoon to wake us up? However, despite these all, most of the leaders do not walk their talk. Instead, they talk incessantly yet walk away from the real environmental issues.
That is the very reason why genuine environmentalists oppose, often at their lives’ risk, any business agenda disguised as progress but actually thwarting this scientific fact unknown to many.
Ocean acidification is killing our coral reefs and our marine species. In fact, our oceans are dying as pollution and man-induced climate change take its toll. Fish catch continues to decline.
Food supplies will be scarce, poverty will increase and more Arab springs will arise. The looming war will be about survival.
Let us wake up to these facts and take action with urgency. If not, we face a world of more severe weather calamities, floods, droughts and food shortage.
FINALLY, the most powerful nation on earth – the United States – has experienced once again a shutdown. No benefits for their citizens, no parks to visit, etc. during the shutdown.
The Statue of Liberty, their symbol for freedom, democracy and the new world, shut down too. The American dream, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave closed.
What has Liberty aside from being the biggest polluter next to China, done to deserve this?
There is no doubt that they will print more money and see an increase in their debt-making inflation and weakening of the purchasing power of the US dollar – and for what purpose?
More than 60 years after the Industrial Revolution, the planet’s present development model has destroyed our ecology and the global economy.
Gone are the days of a balanced ecology. The story goes on and on. As I write this, a series of powerful typhoons are upon us.
Up in Baguio City earlier, the typhoon was at signal number 3 and the winds were more powerful than ever. Lives were lost and the damage done was at its worst.
As if sending a stronger wake-up call to all of us was the great 7.2 magnitude earthquake that recently hit Bohol and Cebu and claimed hundreds of lives.
Zamboanga City, still reeling from more than 21 days of war and unrest, has suffered flood waters. Olongapo City was not spared from the same deluge.
When it rains these days, the entire city, or even metropolis such as Metro Manila, becomes overwhelmed with floods.
Just like Mexico and other parts of the world. Asia gets flooded by monsoon rains and typhoons coming in like a swarm of bees.
Blame it not on the rains but on climate change which increases the volume of rainfall. Blame in on the depletion of our forests. Unable to retain water.
Blame it on the wanton destruction of our forests and the marine environment. Blame in on greed.
Blame in on us and those who continue to pollute?
The present development model has not taken this into consideration. The drains are over 50 years old; in some cases development has followed a model that has failed and must be changed. This must be addressed.
There are many effective development models to consider, one of which is the “circular model.”
Shifting to renewable energy and implementing plane recycling can put a stop to logging and extraction.
We ask ourselves: Why are all these climatic calamities happening more often, more unpredictably and more severe?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations a are coming up. There should be a reduction and mitigation plan to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is now life-threatening at over 400 ppm.
A recent issue of the Financial Times reported about the extreme air pollution in China affecting millions. We are running out of time as the planet continues to heat up and the sea-level rises.
New rivers are being formed as the old ones dry up. There have been record floods and typhoons and there will be many more. The planet is in peril and many don’t even know it unless they are impacted.
What have we done all these years? Nothing but destroy our environment.
This must be changed. We must act and educate. We must get everyone involved in saving the planet.
Environmental awareness must be heightened to make everyone realize the urgency.
We must act NOW or we will continue to be underwater. We must not allow ourselves to eventually cease as a civilization.
When will we make up to the fact that our planet is in peril and our entire way of life has changed?
Do we need a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that ravaged Bohol and more than two thousands aftershocks to wake up?
The time to act is NOW and not wait for more calamities to unfold.
MANILA has recently turned into darkness as torrential rains flooded the entire metropolis and its outlying provinces. Heavy downpour lasted for more than 72 hours which caused unusual floods and overflowing of some dams.
As it struck, Typhoon Maring remained stationary north of Batanes, sucking all the southwest monsoon, thus filling the dams and flooding Metro Manila.
On its second day, classes and government offices, as well as the stock market, were suspended. Our streets turned into rivers. Both relief and rescue were slowed down, thus resulting in losses of both lives and properties.
Over 700,000 people were affected. We all know that much more had been impacted in a mega-city of about 12 million people.
Normally, we are used to this kind of weather considering we are now in the rainy season. But recent typhoons and their consequences continue to worsen.
We used to live in harmony with nature. We even used rainwater for everything from drinking to irrigation and to all household needs.
The hydrological process was normal until it has been multiplied in strength by a thousand fold due to global warming and climate.
The waters from above usually store themselves in the forest roots and watersheds. However, today they come down in the form of flash floods, destroying everything along their way.
This is the price we all have to pay for the ruined forest around us.
The government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is aware who the illegal loggers are and had imposed a total logging ban. ALL DENR needs to do is enforce the ban to its fullest extent, since the illegal loggers remain unafraid.
Manila is a dying city in terms of environmental assets. Yet, the government continue to push for its own definition of ‘progress’ regardless of the adverse environmental impact.
What agenda does the government really have in developing the metropolis without consideration to its natural environment? They cannot even expedite the flood control project they started a decade ago!
To whose benefit will their agenda serve in the long run? If that ‘progress’ will eventually cost loss of lives and properties, as what is happening now, then the agenda never serves its purpose from the very onset.
Raising the water rates frequently does not benefit the, consumers. Don’t they know that we barely have water to give our people to drink?
Then they claim that ‘there is a need for a new source of water, thus a need to dam another river?’ DENR recently admitted that we have 148 critical river systems and only 16 river basins left. Do they really want to argue with nature?
We are supposed to be rich in water. It is everywhere and yet our people have to forcibly pay for this God-given resources.
It freely comes from above into our watersheds and rivers down to the groundwater. It is a common knowledge. However, our water resources are mismanaged, abused, neglected and carelessly wasted.
In the global scene, if richer countries can splurge on their funds to spy on everyone in the planet using their high-tech equipment and facilities, surely they can use the same funds and expertise to stop the massive logging, help slow down emissions of greenhouse gases everywhere and legally pursue all global polluters.
What are they doing to our people and planet? Poverty is on the rise. The food chain is contaminated.
Our so-called ‘economic growth’ is actually joining the rest of the world in faltering.
Why must our country be pegged to the US dollar, thus making us slaves to the Federal Reserve?
We are a rich country and we have all the resources to survive. We can be self-sufficient and can combat climate change right in our own backyard.
We must act now with resolve as we face more disasters, unleashed by nature and by greed.
We must not allow the lid of darkness to lead us blindly to oblivion.
Dedicated environmentalists conducted recently their own State of the Nature Address (SONA) to assess the state of our environment.
The SONA was hosted by Green Convergence, a coalition of NGOs, Civil Society Groups, and people who care for the environment and Mother Earth. It was held at ESI grounds in MIRIAM College in Quezon City.
This year’s topic focused on WATER -- A God-given human right, with focus on our having so much water and yet we are suffering from a water shortage, at least in Metro-Manila where the privatized water companies want to raise the rates.
Director Ricardo Calderon, Director of the Forest Management Bureau of the DENR, reported that we have:
· 421 River Basins spread over 26.96 Million hectares;
· 18 major river systems over 11 million hectares; and.
Director Calderon adverted to the government’s efforts to reforest and protect our watersheds. Director Calderon said that in a two-year period, over 300,000 hectares were reforested and that despite the presence of laws and the logging ban that is in effect, there seems to be no stopping the logging culprits and destroyers of our environment.
Jay Bee Gargenera of Alyansa Tigil Mina informed the forum that mining companies continue to use millions of liters of water a day in order to keep the mines going. He said that the Tampacan mining project, the largest in Southeast Asia, looms as the biggest open pit mine and will likely affect the island of Mindanao.
It was reported in the SONA that Protected Areas have not only been invaded but have been re-defined to identify the lines to be developed.
May I ask: What is wrong with our leaders both in the government and the private sector? Don't they know that the planet is in peril? -- that we are in an age of PEAK water usage? Don't they know that water is LIFE and without it we are at risk?
We do not have to be. We have so much water everywhere. Our world is so rich yet, as of today, over 2 Billion people have no access to potable water and sanitation.
Poverty is on the rise, and ahead, I foresee a war over water.
Let’s state the obvious: water is a finite resource and we have only 2.5% percent of the world’s surface providing fresh water. Only one (1) percent is used, as the rest are frozen.
Yes, we are so blessed with water but we MUST not allow ourselves to be deprived of this God-given resource.
We must take care of Mother Nature and our only planet, or suffer the fate of losing our civilization as we know it.
As I write this, the heat wave and drought in Northeast Asian countries has reached record levels. The severe heat wave in Japan, South Korea and some parts of China (including Shanghai) has destroyed agriculture produce. It has caused the rise of sickness and new diseases.
In our country, we have just seen the effects of the recent typhoons that have wrought havoc in the North Western areas of Luzon.
The extreme heat in the Middle East and in North Africa has already caused lifestyle change. People can no longer live their normal lives since they are forced to adapt to new conditions. This will get worse as years pass.
Water, a finite resource, has become globally scarce. With over two billion people now living below the poverty line, water rationing is now a concern.
What about the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations? These goals were agreed upon by about 193 UN member countries with 23 international organizations during the world Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.
To-date, these goals which include ``radicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and ensuring environmental sustainability,” have not been met.
All we heard from their end were their own optimism, based on their own surveys about ``improved water sources”.
They defined improved water sources as household connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected wells, protected springs and collected rainwater. The UN foresees improvements in access to water by people by next year, 2014.
It now seems that it will remain as an unachievable forecast.
There is therefore an urgent need to scale-up sanitation approaches for the grassroots.
But what are the leaders doing? These leaders go to the extent of re-defining protected areas to accommodate the interest of those behind the scourging of our natural resources!
The effects of global warming and climate change spare no one. Europe and the United States have not been spared.
In the United States the drought last year was reportedly worse than the decade-long `Great Dust Bowl’ in the 1930s that took its toll on agriculture.
I do not understand why these leaders won’t just do everything that must be done to reduce greenhouse gasses. (GHG) and restore carbon dioxide to 350ppm needed to sustain life.
That is not very hard to do. Leaders must stop chanting their mantra of ``sustainable development model” and just step on the brakes!
This so-called ``development model” has always been doomed as futile from the outset. Why do they call this ``development”? They should call it ``destruction” because that’s exactly what it is!
The old development model is still being applied despite the calamities and the global economic melt- down.
The people of China are now breathing toxic fumes as their air pollution has reached deadly levels and yet they go on with the same economic development model that has failed to make life better.
As the ice continues to melt everywhere, the news that China will be plying the shipping route across the Arctic sea is very disturbing.
China’s intrusion into our waters and those of other Asian countries is a sign that the battle for natural resources has began and will continue to escalate.
This intrusion to our territorial waters has prompted our government and those of Japan and Korea to escalate military strongholds.
We have been seeing the manifestations of droughts, floods, typhoons and strange weather patterns globally. How much more pressure can the planet take?
The loss of biodiversity has increased to a much rapid rate. In due time, our planet will not be able to sustain life. Our forests, rivers, oceans and the whole biodiversity will be destroyed.
The expansion of the deserts is another indicator that climate change must be stopped.
We have said this time and time again. There are many Arab springs to rise, there are many countries to suffer extreme austerity measures. All our ecosystem will suffer.
Smaller countries and indigenous peoples will be helpless if not defenceless against both nature’s wrath and man-made destruction.
Consider what it happening now to the island nation of Kiribati located at the central tropical Pacific Ocean.
Itself a UN member, Kiribati has a population of about 100,000 inhabitants. But the continuing rise in the sea level caused by climate change is now forcing their government to its last recourse: moving the entire populace to nearby Fiji island.
Are we waiting for this scenario to happen to our own country? God forbid!
WITH THE heavy rains there’s water everywhere, and yet we’re running out of potable water!
Flooding is a perennial problem in Metro Manila and many other parts of the country. It poses a challenge to our government, which reportedly needs two decades or more to complete a flood-control master plan.
If one travels to Baguio City, as we recently did, one will see many landsline areas and mountain gone bald because of deforestation—clear signs of more flash floods in the years to come.
Now they want to cement the riverbanks, as if that will solve the following problem. What we need to do is to dredge our silted waterways, protect what’s left or our forests, and then go on a massive reforestation program.
Europe was recently underwater, caused by heavy downpours that led to the swelling of the Elba and Danube rivers and the breaching of their levees. The floods in India, Canada and elsewhere are likewise appalling.
So much water wasted and many are still desperate for water to drink. Already, more than 2 billion people in the world—both in the rural and urban areas—struggle to find access to water for their very survival.
“Each and every day some 3,900 children die due to dirty water or poor hygiene,” says the World Health Organization. “Water scarcity, poor water quality, and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices, and educational opportunities for poor families across the world.”
Over 70 percent of our planet is made up of water but only 2.5 percent of that is fresh water, most of which comes from the polar ice caps. But the ice caps are melting so fast and the waters flowing into the ocean due to global warming. The rest of the water is used for agricultural, residential and industrial purposes.
The rains are supposed to replenish the watersheds. But not enough rainwater is stored because there are hardly any forests left to contain it.
The imbalance in our ecosystem is showing but it is being ignored. The culprits continue damming our rivers and decimating our forests. They are defying Nature’s warnings. And worse, world leaders have done nothing concrete to mitigate climate change, which continues to wreak havoc on the planet and melt the remaining ice caps.
Water, the source of all life, is running out. Our rivers and lakes are running dry.
Says author and environmental analyst Lester Brown: “The world is seeing the collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a geographic region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline.
Because of the failure of governments in the region to mesh population and water policies, each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed and less irrigation water with which to feed them.
“In India, 175 million people are being fed with grain produced by over pumping, in China 130 million. In the United States, the irrigated area is shrinking in leading farm states with rapid population growth, such as California and Texas, as aquifers are depleted and irrigation water is diverted to cities.”
Brown adds: “Eighteen countries are showing signs of severe water shortages, and China, India and the United States are included.”
And yet, here in our country, some even want to dam the Laiban River?
I remember the days when we drank clean water from the well and the household water from our faucets was taken from a nearby unpolluted river. We enjoyed water in its pristine form.
These days, bottled water is a profitable business despite water being a God-given resource.
We have reached the age of peak oil, peak food, and peak water. There will be more Arab Springs and a war for resources, primarily for water, because it is essential to survival.
The deserts continue to expand. Look how the Sahara, Gobi and Kalahari deserts continue to gain ground. We are losing the battle against the phenomenon called desertification.
At the rate water is being wasted everywhere and becoming more polluted, the war for water may begin sooner than we expect. We must take action against all threats to our water resources.
It’s not a matter of choice. It’s our responsibility.
THE global heat wave seems to be increasing and rising higher than expected.
In some areas in Africa and the Middle East, temperatures have reached as high as 50 degrees Centigrade, causing massive damage in some areas. The heat has led to abrupt occurrences of strange weather patterns, causing unusual thunderstorms and rains elsewhere.
Austerity measures they had been imposing everywhere proved useless and are just making the poor even poorer.
These measures created global poverty groups pocketed in different categories but still within the premises of poverty.
Thus, the problem remains unsolved.
In effect, the multitude, specifically to poor, have to change their entire daily routine and schedule, such as going to school and work early in the morning and back home before the heat bears down upon them. The heat will not only affect the health of the people, particularly the young and the elderly.
It will devastate crops and turn fertile farms into deserts. Rivers will begin to dry up and the agricultural produce will shrink as yields will decline, forcing many farmers not to plant but rather divert to other means of livelihood.
The whole ecosystem will be imbalanced affecting species, including man, leading to extinction even of our civilization. This is why the issue of global heat must be taken seriously by everyone.
What will happen when peak water and food will be reached? What will we expect to happen when water and food would be scarce? Countries will hold on to their own supply of food and water. The global issues will escalate into power struggles and fights for survival.
Moreover melting ice in the Arctic has made shipping lanes narrower, the very reason why they can now ply the route from Rotterdam to Kobe, Japan or the Busan, South Korea as they aim to save at least 10 hours and many nautical miles for business purposes.
Should the leaders not mitigate and reduce greenhouse gasses and win the war against global warming and climate change, the battle for resources will escalate to a point when the only solution would be war and military action.
Already we are seeing that tug-of-war manifesting in many Asian islands, with China against Japan or Taiwan. Even our very own Scarborough Shoal is not spared from being grabbed from our territorial grasp.
This is our land and we will defend it with our lives. Expectedly, every country will defend its own to survive this deluge.
Let us not wait for this kind of war to intensify. All we need to do is reduce emissions and restore carbon dioxide back to the 350ppm-level.
For our part, one way to mitigate climate change is by helping fast track the needed mangrove reforestation as well as by continuously fostering the spirit of volunteerism while educating the masses about what threatens our ecosystem these days.
So many in the grass roots level here are still unaware of the threats to our environment. It goes to prove there is a need for massive campaign for educating them.
We also need to help network with environmental experts and encourage the media to help disseminate the activities so that others would be empowered to get involved in this battle against climate change.
The recent news that China and the United States would bilaterally reduce florochloro carbons is welcome.
However, I am more concerned with the ecological time bomb ticking even faster while leaders do nothing but assure us with their theoretical solutions based on uncertain studies and so called expert advice.
We must go organic and re-direct into renewable energy. Our government must spearhead the campaign to help environmental NGO’s and individuals who put their own lives at risk in the frontline.
Only through such unwavering commitment can we win the battle to protect our biodiversity. Leaders who do not walk their talk must be compelled to change their approach to the pressing global problems about our planet’s declining health.
Their words, no matter how intense and promising, remain like feathers in the wind.
In this kind of war for the preservation of our natural resources, what we need is only one word.
And that word is Action!
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
“YOU are what you eat”. This is an adage that has been proven true.
What you put into your body will affect you specifically in physiological and psychological terms.
In the United States, the consumers are beginning to insist on their right to safe food, the choice of what to eat and the labeling of all ingredients in their food.
It is in U.S. where obesity and “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)” have been to norm since the introduction of GMO’s.
However, this norm is recently changing. The movement is gaining ground.
Our country is so blessed with such a natural bounty that we cannot afford to have it contaminated by the alien invasive species and GMOs.
Last week, we were privileged to meet Jeffrey Smith who is the author of the best-selling book titled “Seeds of Deception”. Smith also wrote another recent best-seller titled “Genetic Roulette”.
Thanks to the efforts of the Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF), the ‘No to GMOs’ Network and Green Convergence (a coalition of non-governmental organization) has been advocating safe and organic food for our people and our country, as well as a healthy and ecologically-sound environment.
We are determined to fight, at all cost, against all attempts by other to contaminate our natural foodchain with GMO’s
I still remember our hunger strike against GMO issues in the early 2000 in front of the Department of Agriculture in Diliman, Quezon City. We won those issues. We have gone a long way but this recent battle we MUST win.
Having met with Jeffrey in his recent Manila forum was an honor for us all and for those who listened to him as he shared during his countless experiences on his battle against those behind GMOs.
The harmful effects of GMOs are well-documented in his best-selling books which are both rich in content and highly critical against genetically engineered foods.
In his books, he outlined the dangers of the insidious and irreversible effects of GMOs.
A simple and humble person, Smith dedicated his life to fight for the right of safe and organic food and to battle against food manufacturing which are mostly tainted with GMOs and are abundant in the United States.
He mentioned that ‘all crops produced in the United States are usually genetically modified, whether these be soya, corn, sugar beets or fruits such as tomato and squash.’
Citing findings from renowned scientists like Arphad Pusztai, who has documented the flaws of genetic modifications, Smith also echoed the findings of Ignacio Chapela, an Associate Professor from the University of California-Berkley, amongst others.
According to Smith, “all of the United States, Brazil and Argentina are contaminated with GMOs due to the planting of corn, soya and canola.”
He mentioned that “we are still safe in the Philippines as we have not planted GMOs. However, the government has field tested BT corn and eggplant and we have been trying to stop this action since early 2000. This may just spread and destroy our environment and food chain.”
Kudos to you, Jeffrey Smith, in your fight against evil. Kudos as well to all those who, like Jeffrey, continue with utmost courage to advocate for the right to safe food. We are all with you in this battle not only against GMOs, but against greed and lust for money and power by a handful of business giants.
These GMOs, once planted or released to the environment, can spread with he wind, pollinating and contaminating our rich, natural and organic agriculture, our food chain and our rich biodiversity.
Despite a Court of Appeals ruling to stop using GMOs here in our country, there are fears that his court ruling may be defied since field-testing allegedly continues.
We cannot allow our agriculturally rich country to be contaminated by GMOs, which haven’t even been proven scientifically to be effective or safe for all humans and animals.
We are urging the government of our country and the rest of the world to STOP the introduction and further release of GMOs.
The only way to deal with GMO issues is a determined stance of “NO to GMO!” Period.
Lastly, once the world patronizes GMO seeds introduced and pushed to the world, then the world only has itself to blame, while the world slowly dies due to the effects of GMOs. That is business profiteering at its worst. We must never allow this to happen!
We MUST ban GMOs from being planted on our country’s soil. These belong to the confines of a laboratory, not on our God-given fertile grounds.
We Filipinos, must join hands and repel any attempts to make our children and all of our countrymen become unsuspecting “guinea pigs” of experimental crops and foods tainted with life-threatening GMOs.
We MUST ban GMOs from being planted on our country’s soil. These harmful organisms must be confined in their companies’ laboratory, not spread around our God-given fertile grounds for profit.
Let us join more than 67 countries which have already took their stand and rejected GMO infiltration and contamination.
Let us protect our rich, natural and organic food chain. We are what we eat. But we must first do what must be done.
Let us not be victims of myths surrounding GMOs, making them appear harmless to consumers.
You are what you eat. However, what you eat must come from what nature has blessed you with, not food grown from seeds of deception.
LET US FIGHT FOR A HEALTHIER LIFE
FOOD production in China, in Russia and in many parts of the world have decreased fast as pollution and man-induced climate change continue to take their toll.
Note that the economic growth has blackened the air in Beijing and has caused deaths and illnesses due to the toxic air breathed by the people there.
Moreover, a rare strain of bird flu outbreak is reportedly starting again in China.
Its flu-like symptoms are reportedly being suspected to be linked to the polluted air.
The over-development of China has also led to its current infamous role as one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world, overtaking the United States.
Water resources, natural food production and biodiversity are all helpless victims of global warming and climate change.
The unbearable heat, including that which scourges us now here in the Philippines, has brought forth many deaths and new diseases.
Dehydration and heat stroke cases are on the rise as people, species and the planet as a whole succumb to the rage of climate change.
Our stance against man made pollution is not limited to China, Russia, the United States and other countries sharing the same guilt. It must also be felt even more right here in our own country.
We must preach in our own backyard.
What are our own leaders doing to abate this perennial global problem?
What is the United Nations doing? What about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)? After all the Conference of Parties (COP) meetings, did anything concrete happen?
Why are we still trading carbon as a tool to mitigate greenhouse gases?
While forests absorb carbon dioxide and give us much-needed oxygen, why are they being cleared and converted into palm oil plantations for a few dollars more in profits enjoyed by a handful businessmen?
The oceans everywhere, once so rich in marine protein and food supply, are now gasping for breath.
Our country is said to have one of the richest coral reefs in the world’ being geographically located at the center of the Coral Triangle. With the bounty of our own seas, we can survive.
Why are we polluting our seas and oceans? These are the same seas and oceans that observe 50 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide and also give us oxygen.
Today, ocean acidification, pollution and climate change are destroying the last frontier, the global commons.
Why are the leaders allowing man-made destruction to happen?
Why are we so blind to allow these to happen right before us?
I can only think of greed, ignorance and lust for power to be the underlying factors that drive the both the polluters and the global leaders to continue their mania for direct and indirect hands in the destruction of the environment.
The criterion for progress these days seems to be stretched beyond our Mother Earth’s premises, as space exploration programs now include those that may eventually protect our own planet.
As Lynda Williams wrote: “World-renowned scientists such as Stephen Hawking have made calls to colonize the Moon and Mars in order to preserve the species due to the inevitability of certain future doom on Earth by environmental destruction, plague or warfare.”
(Peace Review, a Journal of Social Justice)
This theory may sound absurd to most, or reality to some.
It is, after all, the 21st century and we are supposed to be in the ‘Age of High Technology, of learning from the past and beginning a new future.
One thing I am certain about is: There will be more Arab springs, more natural calamities, deaths, floods and droughts.
Poverty will continue to rise, and yes the global economy will continue to decline. Particularly, should the present scenario of destruction become unstoppable.
We must fight for our rights to a healthy world, a healthier life!
Let us stop turning a blind eye to reality and be enlightened by the challenging signs of the times.
These signs are more than enough to compel us to act.
THE LAST DROP
WE were lucky enough to have grown up amidst the abundance of our natural resources. These were during the decades of ‘50s to the ‘70s.
The rainforest then was pristine while most of the countryside was unspoiled by man-made progress. Our rivers teemed with fish as their waters flowed freely and clearly – an abundance of clean waters as if they flowed infinitely!
Our seas, coral reefs and mangrove swamps were rich sources supplying us with a food chain that was clean, healthy and reliable.
We enjoyed everything from our natural resources at a cheaper price and yet of high quality and larger volume!
I remember how it was popular then to buy rice not by kilo, but by the “ganta” (roughly at 2.5 kgs.) Fruits and vegetables were sold by pieces, by dozens or by bundles, rarely by kilos. Most fish, shrimps, crabs, sea shells and other marine products were sold either by a bunch or by the heap.
As years passed, both technological and industrial progress everywhere continues to lead us to the deterioration and depletion of our natural resources.
Now, scarcity is obvious as most products seem to be sold in their smallest retail sizes, such as the popularity of “sachets.”
Even the smallest fruit or vegetable is sold by kilos, regardless of its condition. Unsafe food production becomes more and more visible as an alarming consumer issue, from the countryside to the major cities even in the most progressive countries.
It is an irony that we are following a cycle of eco-suicide here!
We allow ourselves to lose access to a naturally cleaner, healthier way of living in exchange for a systematic and chemical-laden consumption that the world now submissively adapts itself to.
Many may be unaware, but what really makes up our planet? Simply said, we have a so-called “water planet” since it is made up of over 71% of water on the earth’s surface in the forum of oceans and seas.
The remaining 29 percent cover lands such as continents and island. Freshwater supply found in lakes, rivers and polar ice caps comprises less than 2.5 percent while over 69 percent is in the form of ice and snow. The melting of ice caps is a source of fresh water, too.
But ice caps and ice-bergs are now melting faster due to man-induced climate change. Unlike the natural meltdown process, climate change meltdown cannot replenish the ice caps at all.
The irreversible ecological damage will soon render extinct the “home of the Inuits”, with all its polar bears ad other species in the Arctic. Without the snow and ice as their habitat, they will eventually drown to extinction.
Of the 2.5 percent ice and snow, one-fifth remains frozen in a lake in Siberia. Finally, 1.5 percent of the rest of ice goes back to the oceans and land.
Meanwhile, the remaining water is found in our rivers, lakes, groundwater aquifers and watersheds.
As the world’s current population reaches over seven billion, increasing by over 290,000 a day we can expect a global population of over nine billion in 2050 or 37 years from now.
How worse can that affect our planet? Well, simply imagine a household budget of Php100 a day for three persons eventually accommodating 50 people instead. Hunger and survival issues are definitely on their trail. It is a grim scenario ahead, no doubt about it.
There is just no way that our water resources will last at the rate we are wasting it, depleting this most vital resource.
Despite all these, they still want to dam our rivers to destroy our water sources further.
At the expense of our biodiversity and water sheds, they want to build the Laiban Dam, among others, to supply the water needs of Metro Manila.
Where there’s water, there is life. Nobody can survive without water and that’s a fact.
Once we allow the destruction of our natural reservoir, then we will be drinking the last glass of water soon.
All in due time, a glass of water will be more precious than an ounce of gold.
Why wait for the last glass? Why wait for the last drop of water?
The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze was right when he said before. “Dig your well before you get thirsty.”
But think about it:
With the last drop gone, what good is a well without water in it?
WHY MAKE THE UNBORN SUFFER?
THE Financial Times reported in its May 28, 2013 issue that “the cost of malnourishment to global economy will reach $125 billion.”
The author Helen Warrell cited that “to be malnourished in the womb causes deficiencies in cognitive development that will reduce a child’s future earning potential by 20%” and “is expected to cost the global economy $125 billion by 2030.”
This news comes at a time when the global economy is in shambles and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Central Bank members are pumping in stimulus financing and economic easing.
They continue to impose strict austerity measures which have not only weakened the purchasing power of currencies but had caused in-flationary and a sense of uncertainty in dealing with the global economy.
The FT article only stirs more doubts about the climate change talks and the need to convert these talks into concrete actions.
There has been no substantial gain on the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) and no REAL action taken at all!
While they keep talking, the planet is getting warmer and warmer!
What proof can be more valid than the existing atmospheric carbon dioxide level breaching the 400-ppm-thres-hold? Worse, it is even nearing the 450-ppm-level which is expected to cause more devastating effects to the global climate patterns. Add to the list the destruction of biodiversity, increased poverty and the introduction of new diseases leading to more early deaths.
A good friend and colleague, former World Bank director Dr. Robert Goodland had consistently mentioned that we need to address the close to 51% of GHG caused by the production of livestock alone.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has its estimates that do not matter on anyone’s table, so to speak. At the very least, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not taken action at all on the very root of the issue.
Simply put, estimates are futile when no effective actions ensue. Period.
Our world leaders need to simultaneously address the livestock issue, at the same time beat the GHG emissions issue to a pulp while getting more involved into renewable.
They must act with urgency and ensure that every step they do would be efficient, effective and devoid of corruption and personal agenda.
I have been receiving comments that the gender aspect may help, as men reportedly become outnumbered by women these days. Hence, women may need to take the lead in the global environmental frontline.
It reminds me of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote: “If you want anything said, give it to man. If you want anything done, give it to a woman. “But she was talking about policies.
All of humanity must act. We all breathe. We are all involved. We all have the right to Life so we are all responsible and accountable when it comes to the state of the planet.
Our very own Philippine Constitution, with its laws on natural environment, upholds our right to a healthy, clean and decent life.
We cannot allow our-selves to be bullied. The global commons are in danger and our planet is in peril.
We need to reclaim the global commons from trans-national-corporations or TNCs. We need to get out of ‘narrow economics’ and change our wasteful present economic model.
As echoed by the late Dr. Eleanor Ostrom, we need to stop the ‘expert arrogance’ and ‘politics of destruction’!
Most of us do not even remember University of California Professor Jeffery Rowland who discovered the hole in the ozone layer.
The chemical industry tries to destroy Row land’s argument until the British Aerospace reportedly proved that the hole indeed existed and was getting bigger.
The BA findings led to the worldwide banning of chloro floro carbons (CFCs). Thus, the hole in the ozone problem was allegedly solved.
With strong will power and high volunteerism spirit, much more with the backing of science and technology, the global issues about our environment can be confronted head-on. There is no reason why we cannot beat global warming and climate change.
To save our planet from its early demise due to polluters, a more appropriate Thatcher quotation then would be: “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” All must be involved, specifically from the academe to the grassroots level. Another solutions is the Public-Private-Peoples Partnership (PPPP) and not the government-favored Private-Public Partnership (PPP).
We need to tackle the issue of population. Our population has breached the 7-billion mark and continues to increase. If not controlled, our planet will not be able to sustain the needs of our civilization.
Everyone has a right to be born to enjoy God given environmental blessings. Why make the unborn suffer with man-made environmental curse?
DON'T LET THE SKEPTICS WIN
THE RECENT news is that the 450-ppm threshold of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will be a reality soon. Is this cause for global alarm?
Yes, and it must be prevented from happening at all costs because it will raise global temperatures by 2 degrees Centigrade and lead to extreme droughts, floods, storms and typhoons –the “usual” calamities, but with more intensity and frequency.
And yes, the ice caps are melting even faster, strongly indicating the reality that is to come and that must not be ignored.
Consequential to such a scenario are widespread food shortages, extreme poverty, massive destruction of our habitats, and imbalance in our ecosystem. Biodiversity will decline to its worst, even to the extinction of more and more species. For all we know, it can lead to the extinction of our civilization!
The powerful tornadoes that leveled parts of Oklahoma in the United State States are another sign of worse environmental disasters to come.
In fact, we are already experiencing strange weather patterns locally and globally as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reportedly gone over 403 ppm.
In an article titled “Climate Skeptics Have Already Won” (The Financial Times, 5/22/13), Martin Wolf put it very well: “Humanity has decided to yawn and let the real and present dangers of climate change mount.”
How can we not totally agree with the author, considering that nothing has actually been done to mitigate and reduce the green-house gases released in the atmosphere?
Today, 30 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is directly due to humankind’s careless lifestyle. China was responsible for 24 percent of the global total emissions in 2000; the United States, 17 percent; and the Eurozone, 8 percent. But each Chinese emits only a third of that emitted by an American.
China’s catch-up growth is making this harder. What kind of growth does it want? A growth blanketed with dark toxic air in its capital, Beijing, or a growth that will give its people the quality of life that they deserve?
News reports suggest a number of steps to fight global warming and climate change. These are: Implement a “carbon tax” (or make polluters pay); impose really tough emission standards; create a secure global trade regime in low carbon fuels; develop ways of financing the transfer of the best available technology for creating and, more importantly , saving energy; and require government to invest in research and early stage innovation.
We have the technology for renewable energy, or at least Germany does at the cheapest cost. It’s a move worth emulating by the rest of the world.
Wolf mentioned two others: nuclear energy and geoengineering, which we strongly oppose. These are steps leading backward and comparative to comic-book solutions.
In dealing with global environmental threats, the answers we need are simply “classroom solutions.” All we need to do is put the brakes on so-called “development.” We should also go full blast on renewable energy and change our present development model.
And also, work on how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from livestock, which release at least 51 percent of the total amount of greenhouse gases.
With these steps, we can begin to win the war against climate change. If we don’t take these steps, Wolf may be right: We may have already lost.
We must not let ourselves be subjected to the destructive development model and settle with fence-sitting and watching the planet heat up. We must do everything to prevail and save our Mother Earth, men and women alike.
Climate change and global warming are genuine and concrete issues. If the worst calamities and catastrophes do not compel our leaders to act promptly against the ultimate destruction of our planet, not even their skepticism can be of use in the end.
THESE day’s extreme heat – in the vicinity of over 37 degrees Centigrade, without exaggeration – has been giving a real feel of over 50 degrees! It has felt like the planet was on fire, burning like it never burned before. Due to this intolerable heat, everywhere, more and more people are suffering from fatal heat strokes.
We feel it. At least I do and we can’t take this much longer.
Both croplands and species suffer. Lands turn into arid deserts, claiming wider coverage.
As I write this, India is suffering from its worst drought in the last 40 years. The cycle seems to be getting shorter, a forewarning that there will be more severe droughts as there will be more severe winter storms, floods and typhoons.
Some experts theorize that no amount of efforts can help India combat its worsening drought and its growing desert.
Its people, as well as their cattle, among others, are now dying due to extreme heat. What is to become of India and other countries similarly suffering from extreme heat and drought?
India once boasted of its landscape so rich and blessed with pristine forest and the richest top soil. Its soil was so rich, that one used to have the impression that anything planted on India’s soil would expectedly grow into a bountiful harvest.
Well, that is history now, not only for India but anywhere else. Those days of bounty may be gone forever as our planet continues to heat up.
Look at how our biodiversity is still being battered by polluters! Our waters, forests, seas, and practically all aspects of our ecosystem are still being abused!
One reason is the continuing use of the so called “present development model approach” that global leaders adhere to.
This ineffective development model is dictated not by a genuine intention to save our planet, but by the lust for power, money and greed! Other than these self-gratifying factors, what else could be holding back these leaders from changing their approach to a more effective, precise and clear-cut maner in dealing with the perennial global warming and climate change issues?
How can they refuse to see how poverty and unemployment are racing against each other, both in acceleration that seems unstoppable? The global economy is in shambles, with all the billions of dollars use for bail-out and stimulus-deficit financing instead of well-planned programs, projects and policies suitable to the enhancement of our biodiversity that is tantamount to feeding a large population.
These huge funds could have been used in combating climate change and global warming which the leaders failed to resolve. They never really were serious, I guess. Or were they trying to bask on their failures?
Why? Because the ineffective results of such approach are proving to the world how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) failed to resolved both the cause and consequences of more droughts, storms and natural calamities now weighing upon us.
Once can only imagine the impact of these natural calamities and man-made catastrophies in a deluge against us!
Without any concrete agreement among the parties, it is clear that there are no serious goals set for reducing greenhouse gasses. It is obvious that there is no real consensus on how to simply reduce GHG and mitigate global warming. This close-fisted seriousness should have been ingrained in their approach at the outset in order to win the war against climate change.
The question is: do these leaders ever think that way?
The answers are right in front of our eyes. All we need to do is open them.
Unless the global problem of climate change is addressed with urgency, this inaction will trigger more Arab springs and a battle for resources in the not-so-distant future.
It is quite hopeful that environmental aware-ness campaign these days has inspired more and more citizens and organizations to help our ailing environment.
Yet, this handful is not enough. All of us must equally rise beyond the call of duty to protect Mother Earth.
The planet can still survive from its present perilous state, despite the extreme heat and drought that threatens it, for as long as everyone commits to help reduce the carbon foot print.
Once each man’s commitment and action strengthen this common goal, hope for Mother Earth’s fast recovery will serve like a vast oasis in a desert for all.
That kind of oasis that never runs dry.
Think about it. Ours is a country so rich with natural resources, strategically located at the center of the Coral Triangle and blessed with species of which only 10-20% are said to be discovered.
Imagine how many of the undiscovered species may have gone extinct and how the discovered ones are declining by existence.
Well, there seems to be nothing new with regards to the environmental problems we have and the way climate change is manifesting itself on the people, species and planet.
As I write this, the United States is victim to hurricanes and typhoons. Asia, specifically Bangladesh, is being drowned by strong typhoons and rains.The rest of Asia are not spared.
It is only the month of May but rainy season in our country is starting earlier than usual, alongside the scourging heat with temperatures reaching 37-degree-centigrade level with a real feel of more than 45 degrees.
How much longer can we take all these pressures? How many more people must die?
How many more towns and cities all over the world must be victims of global warming and climate change before our leaders act sensibly?
Sadly, the next Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) prioritizes its agenda on geo-engineering as a solution to climate change.
It is a move that is bound to be futile such move is tantamount to changing the nature of our planet. Among those considered questionable is their option to put mirrors in space to deflect the sun's heat.
It seems they intend to redirect the atmospheric carbon dioxide to outer space? If that is not a perspective of an irrational mind, I am not sure how can one call that as decently as possible!
It is a theory not only out-of-tune. It is careless , thereby another experimental step that is already a complete failure at the onset ! Perhaps something to add on the list of their other failed attempts to combat climate change. They never learn from history!
Unfortunately, as they continue with their obstinacy, we are all caught in the middle of escalating climate change issues.
The real victims are those who are suffering from drought, famine, lack of clean and potable water, lack of accessibility to healthy food and decent lifestyle, socio-economic inequalities, to name a few.
With this kind of thinking, there seems to be no real intention to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gasses (GHG). There seems to be no real commitment to reduce and mitigate climate change.
On the contrary, what the leaders are stubbornly adhering to these is this development model that started during the Industrial Revolution.
Ironically,the said development model ,with all its 'bracketed rights and broken promises', is now responsible for the destruction of both the ecology and the economics of the world .
Despite the ineffective 'development model', leaders continue to be its biggest fans since they refuse to change their approach in combating climate change.
Their attitude as leaders is clearly stemming from obstinacy and ignorance on the very root cause and eventual catastrophic consequences of the environmental issues they deal with.
I could surmise that it is either they are much convinced that the present development model will be effective in due time ( which I know will never be) or they actually have no other alternatives to offer us.
What is wrong with our global leaders? Don't they feel the increasing heat in global temperature? Don't they see the floods,typhoons,hurricanes and strange weather patterns?
Are they not supposed to act with urgency in this battle against global warming and with the very aim to prevent it from worsening?
Globalization and the present development model has failed. As I had underscored so often, more countries are suffering from austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund. That, for one, is what their development model is doing to us.
Meanwhile, recent Reuters report said that : 'With power generation still dominated by coal and governments failing to increase investment in clean energy, top climate scientists have said that the target of keeping the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius this century is slipping out of reach."
The atmospheric carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is nearing beyond the 400-ppm-threshold. Should that happen, and we pray not, more climatic changes will occur with the veracity and strength that will destroy our civilization, as we know it.
This is not doom-saying.We must all know what happened to the Easter Island civilization gone extinct to understand more. We cannot allow this to happen to our own civilization.
What can our tribal leaders do? They have been living in harmony with nature since the beginning of time. Today they have no control of the effects of global warming and climate change.Their forewarnings were not heeded to and perhaps even not considered at all,because their wisdom comes from the primitive approach.
Well, I should say, primitive as they were,but more logical,simple and yet effective because at the onset, their ways are protective of our environment.
As I write this, our water resources are running dry but leaders still want to dam more rivers. It leads to a scenario that turns our resources from a blessing to a curse,considering the increasing occurrences of our forest trees being felled.
Our agricultural lands are losing their top soil , causing them to turn to deserts.
Our oceans absorb more than 25% percent of carbon dioxide and give us the needed oxygen for life. The only ones that may be left to occupy the seas are the jelly fish since they thrive in low oxygen and acidic water.
Our oceans are victims of ocean acidification destroying countless species. The PH content of our seas have turned acidic and a time will come that they will no longer be able to sustain our marine resources of which we rely so much on for food.
Yet, they want to mine our oceans and extract more minerals in a world were the economy has not improved but has slowed down.
How can we expect our rivers to hold more water so we can enjoy the blessing? Instead of finding ways to protect our rivers, damming is their option?
What will happen to our food security and our oceans the last frontier?
Poverty will continue to rise and more Arab springs will be brewing.
Why don't these leaders implement circular economy,recycling and renewable energy options now being pursued by some countries such as Germany?
Why don't they use barter
system and have night markets ,like those in Baguio
City,which make the local economies move without
destroying the environment?
Barter system has always been effective as a business model since the beginning of time.
We need to buy locally and not globally to rid the business model of high transportation cost.
Comparative advantage and self-sufficiency must also be considered.
Where lies now the insistence of these leaders to go on with their development model?
IS IT GREED AND LUST FOR POWER? IS IT IGNORANCE AND STUPIDITY?
These are the same leaders who insist on the addiction to oil and coal as their preferred options.
As long as our biodiversity is intact and our natural resources are in pristine shape as they were , there is no doubt we can survive.
If there is one sure stop to decrease the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, it is through legal means. The global polluters must be tried in the international courts with crimes against humanity. They should be compelled to stop polluting the earth!
We must act with vigilance! They must be stopped NOW!
There are so many actual and genuine solutions which our planet can gain a new life from.
That if the leaders now are not setting their eyes on the only profit they seem
to know: the profit spelled as 'money'.
Should that be the case, we need not blink to think: our planet's life calendar will surely run out of days to count in due time.
Was the war against climate change lost then, long before it was started? It's our turn to repel such belief!
A battle half-met is a battle half-won.
However, today’s extreme heat prompted me back to writing.
The day’s temperature was over 37-degrees Centigrade. Frankly, without exaggeration,it gave a real feel of over 50 degrees! It felt like the planet was on fire, burning like it never burned before. Due to this intolerable heat, everywhere more and more people are suffering from fatal heat strokes. We feel it. At least I do and we can’t take this much longer. Both croplands and species suffer. Lands turn into arid deserts, claiming wider coverage.
As I write this, India is suffering from its worst drought in the last 40 years. The cycle seems to be getting shorter,a forewarning that there will be more severe droughts as there will be more severe winter storms,floods,typhoons.
Some experts theorize that no amount of efforts can help India combat its worsening drought and its growing desert.
Its people,as well as their cattle, among others,are now dying due to extreme heat. What is to become of India and other countries similarly suffering from extreme heat and drought ?
India once boasted of its landscape so rich and blessed with pristine forest and the richest top soil. Its soil was so rich, that one used to have the impression that anything planted on India’s soil would expectedly grow into a bountiful harvest.
Well,that is history now, not only for India but anywhere else. Those days of bounty may be gone forever as our planet continues to heat up.
Look at how our biodiversity is still being battered by polluters ! Our waters, forest , seas, and practically all aspects of our ecosystem are still being abused !
One reason is the continuing use of the so-called ‘ present development model approach’ that global leaders adhere to.
This ineffective development model is dictated not by a genuine intention to save our planet, but by lust for power, money and greed! Other than these self-gratifying factors , what else could be holding back these leaders from changing their approach to a more effective, precise and clear-cut manner in dealing with the perennial global warming and climate change issues?
How can they refuse to see how poverty and unemployment are racing against each other, both in acceleration that seems unstoppable ? The global economy is in shambles, with all the billions of dollars used for bail-out and stimulus-deficit financing instead of well-planned programs, projects and policies suitable to the enhancement of our biodiversity that is tantamount to feeding a large population.
These huge funds could have been used in combating climate change and global warming which the leaders failed to resolve.They never really were serious, I guess. Or are they trying to bask on their failures,instead?
Why? Because the ineffective results of such approach are proving to the world how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) fail to resolve both the cause and consequences of more droughts,storms and natural calamities now weighing upon us.
One can only imagine the impact of these natural calamities and man-made catastrophies in a deluge against us!
Without any concrete agreement among the parties, it is clear that there are no serious goals set for reducing greenhouse gasses. It is practically obvious that there is no real consensus on how to simply reduce GHG and mitigate global warming. This close-fisted seriousness should have been ingrained in their approach at the onset in order to win the war against climate change.
The question is : do these leaders ever think that way?
The answers are right in front of our eyes. All we need to do is open them.
Once the global problem of climate change continue to be addressed with urgency, this inaction will trigger more Arab springs and a battle for resources in the not-so-distant future.
It is quite hopeful that environmental awareness campaign these days inspire more and more citizens and organizations to help our ailing environment.
Yet, a handful is not enough. All of us must equally rise beyond the call of duty to protect Mother Earth.
The planet can still survive from its present perilous state,despite the extreme heat and drought that threatens it, for as long as everyone commits to help reduce their carbon foot print.
Once each man’s commitment and action strengthen this common goal, hope for Mother Earth’s fast recovery will serve like a vast oasis in a desert for all.
That kind of oasis that never runs dry.
ALTHOUGH the global celebration of Earth Day with all its fanfare has come and gone, the world continues to dwell on the dire need of Earth for help.
To achieve that purpose, the current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) must be reduced to 350ppm which is needed for life to continue safely in our planet. CO2 presence in earth’s atmosphere lies at the root of global warming.
Sure, reforestation projects and other conservation efforts are exerted everywhere. But these enhanced yet sporadic activities are not enough. The planet is still in peril. That’s a fact we all have to deal with squarely.
In its April 2013 issue in an article titled “Against the Grain,” the Financial Times reported that the bio-fuel industry adheres to a law that transforms food into energy. This is due to the present energy supply that has gone to an all-time-low against the heightened consumer demand these days.
Such approach goes to show that environmental converts as well as the rising cost of food, obviously has reached the end of the line.
The so-called ‘bright light of bio-fuels,’ which reduces the dependency to oil, destroys the agriculture industry and our biodiversity.
Why? Forests have been cleared to be converted to corn, soy and palm plantations. The end does not justify the means.
On one hand, all these commodities have been affected by the low global demand and leaders opt for the irrational solution!
Mind you, this solution was developed by so called ‘experts’! Aren’t we seeing enough of their penchant for narrow economics?
On another hand, the Financial Times also reported on a new and concise study done by 73 researchers. The study claimed that humankind has indeed induced climate change and that it will worsen in the coming years.
As expected, the report is being challenged by skeptics on climate change. I could only suspect that greed and lust for power are behind their skepticism. Otherwise, they would be alarmed by such studies like the rest of us.
The global economy continuous to stumble as a triple-dip is expected in England.
More waves of protests, the so-called Arab springs, are mushrooming since the people cannot take the austerity imposed upon them anymore.
It is sad that this year’s Earth Day has been plagued with record high droughts, floods, extreme heat, snow storms, hurricanes and typhoons. All records have been broken in the climatic sense!
Continuous logging and mining still contribute to the massive destruction of our natural resources and biodiversity.
Here in the Philippines, our forests are reported to have the lowest percentage in the whole of Southeast Asia. Decades back, our forests were so rich, with over 20 million hectares of prime rainforest.
How can we allow this worsening scenario to continue?
To lose our own country’s natural resources such as our forests, we only have ourselves to blame.
Our own leaders must be mobilized to fight for each tree! We need to take action and walk our talk!
There had been countless environmentalists who lost their lives as they fought for the welfare of our environment. It is not heroism that is underscored here. It is about survival of our own planet!
Let us win the battle for conservation and the war against climate change.
Earth Day must not be held solely for its fanfare and festive celebrations.
Earth Day must be held to remind us of our planet’s dire need to survive the threats of man-induced greed and carelessness. This is why it must not only be a marked as one-day to one-month affair in anyone’s calendar.
Earth Day must be held every day.
The early 1970s had dark days hounded by protests everywhere, but the loudest cries were mostly focused on anti-war sentiments and neither environmental nor planet-saving specifically.
Research showed that the globally-celebrated Earth Day stemmed from anger about the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. The man-made environmental catastrophe bonded about 20 million people then who took to the streets and auditoriums as they shared a common battlecry : to save planet Earth.
The very first Earth Day rally was held on April 22nd of 1970, led by Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, USA.
From coast-to-coast rallies, these protests eventually crossed and aligned borders and barriers, even those politically, as the same message began echoing among millions of environmental advocates from 141 countries then.
This year, 192 countries, including our very own Philippines , are actively participating in the yearly Earth Day celebration, with hundreds of millions advocates around the world joining in.
Activities continue to evolve from the most primitive like recycling, re-using and reducing of environment-friendly materials to the most advanced ones using social media and technology. All with the same purpose: to impart the urgent message of saving Earth from its perilous state.
Subsequent Earth Day themes have been drummed up all these years, but the intensity of anger that started against man-made destruction to our environment seems to have waned these days.
Instead, the celebration is now approached in a more fanciful and festive manner, perhaps to induce the love for environmental tasks or to spark the interest for it. Eitherway, more and more volunteering individuals and organizations are becoming visible.
However, while the passionate level of global environmental awareness begins to sink in, the heightened effects of climate change and global warming continue due to uncooperative and calloused economic movers and industrial shakers.
With the accelerated degradation and depletion of natural resources, alongside the imminent extinction of more and more species and the increasing global temperature, such powerfully influential initiatives like Earth Day must be conducted not once a year but every single day the whole year round!
As Antonio M. Claparols, president of Ecological Society of the Philippines, had observed:
“Earth Day celebrations are now losing their real objectives. Earth day must be held every single day and real actions must be done to protect our planet. These actions include speaking up against and resisting all overt and covert tactics of greedy and unscrupulous leaders and polluters, from the top-most down to the grassroot levels everywhere.”
Such conviction, although voluntary in nature, can change the pace of environmental protection faster as the urgent need for it calls for.
Claparols, who was among the Board Members when
Earth Day began in the Philippines, had also
spearheaded the introduction of the first
environmental management course in an international
business school and served two terms as Councillor
for International Union of Conservation of Nature (
Through ESP projects, he continues to support countrywide initiatives such as massive reforestation of our mountains, anti-mining campaign, mangrove planting, harnessing solar energy to save trees, construction of sanctuaries to save endangered species such as turtles, among others.
Yet, he admitted it takes more than these kinds of efforts to battle the environmental culprits.
Claparols cited one experience as an example . as he said:
“We used ( former Philippine President Ferdinand) Marcos’ Presidential Decree 1219 banning the harvesting of corals which were sold merely as decors before. We went to Washington D.C. to lobby for the cause and had it amended into the Lacey and Black Bass Acts ,thru the intervention then of Tom Garrett of the Animal Welfare institute and U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson. Our fight led to the lifetime protection of our Philippine coral reefs, among others.”
The anger against man-made environmental destruction that triggered the very first Earth Day movement must not be forgotten. It has to continue as the driving force that must compel the organizers and participants to do what must be done in such intensity that this planet has never experienced yet.
Otherwise, Earth Day celebration will only be one of those snail-paced movements whose rippling effects would last only after ‘a few pebbles were cast on the pond’, so–to-speak.
Earth Day must be treated as a ‘Day of Global Penance’ when man must make amends with Mother Nature and do something about it. Only our penitent and remorseful intentions can connect us to the pains and woes our planet is now suffering from.
That connection will strengthen our commitment to never repeat the cycle that would destroy Mother Earth.
connection, expressed collectively every single day,
will mark the difference between penitents and
SPENDING the Holy Week in our home-town in Talisay City on Negros island is a family event that we always look forward to with excitement and joy each year.
Personally, I find it very enjoyable to be in our farm, bonding with our farmhands and their families while reflecting on the passion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our family role as sponsor of the Santo Entierro is vital as it completes the Church’s commemoration of the “Passion and Life of Christ.”
On Good Friday, we joined the procession and escorted the life size image of Santo Entierro to San Nicolas Church which overflows with devotees each year, with the number constantly growing.
We braved the blistering heat as the sun burned our skin to a crisp during the procession. It was an experience we accepted, bringing us closer to the Lord in His sufferings for humankind.
This time of the year, the summer heat was no joke. The heat could be felt at its worst even in a provincial setting where supposedly we expected a cooler temperature!
Looking around, one could witness withering plants, crops dying and our rivers and watersheds drying up.
As we returned to Manila, we were welcomed by an even worst climate due to the presence of heat-inducing concrete roads and pavements and pollution everywhere.
As of this writing, northern countries are still experiencing an extended winter instead of enjoying the onset of spring.
Heavy, unpredictable rains and long droughts obviously have become the two early environmental culprits this year.
Globally, the economy remains stagnant, if not regressing. Should this continue, we can expect a migration of both species and people to climates and environments that they can adapt to. This is dictated by the instinct of survival we all knows.
It is already happening – which raises fears. Why? Because I believe that climate change migration will not work for species except on temporary basis for some.
Consider the polar bear whose icy home in the Arctic is melting fast. Polar bears will never adapt to anything less than the icy-cold habitat they are used to. Soon, they will join others in the dreaded ‘list of extinction.’
This is what I fear most: That their extinction will gravely affect the balance of our eco-system. Any imbalance will be life-threatening to all of us as a civilization.
Despite all the economic woes, development is moving full blast in our country and elsewhere. This reminds me of the 1997 Asian crisis which left Thailand with over-development at the expense of their water. It proves that over-development is not the answer to any economic problem, including ours.
However, the same Thailand scenario can happen to our beautiful land. What an irony – our country is rich in natural resources and strategically-located at the center of the Coral Triangle.
We all need to think collectively about self-reliance, resourcefulness, organic and environment-friendly lifestyle in order to survive these challenging times.
We need to stand up and speak against global polluters. There must be no exception, including all those who cater to their demands and lobby for their self-serving agenda.
The international conferences I have been attending for decades now led only to green washing exercises of good rhetoric yet nothing effective enough to save our planet.
I have been there: A conference to identify the polluters and stop them from destroying our planet, a conference that will reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) and restore carbon dioxide to 350ppm needed to sustain the planet.
What will happen to more than 2 billion people currently having no access to water and sanitation? Their number is growing alongside their dire poverty.
Sadly, greed and materialism coupled with narrow economics and politics of destruction, riddled with experts’ arrogance and negotiability – these are the ingredients of deception placing our planet at stake.
To all those who are sincere and honest in the advocacy, I urge you all to stand up and fight for your basic right to clean air and water!
We all must follow what Pope Francis said: Protect the poor and the sick, protect all God’s creatures and the environment.”
Let us keep fighting for the use of renewable energy for massive reforestation, for recycling and reusing, for sustainable use, for organic life style.
We must stand up against anything detrimental to our health, our lives, our future, and our environment.
We need progress that safely sustains the lives of all.
You must have noticed the high temperatures and the blistering heat now bearing down on us. What’s even worse is the variance between the temperature and the real feel of the heat. That tells us a lot.
Summer has truly set in, bringing the heat that dries our lakes and rivers and saps the energy from the frail human body mostly composed of water. Amidst the heat, thunderstorms occur and rains pour, causing destructive flash floods.
People and animals get sick, and new diseases appear. Deserts continue to expand, claiming prime land and destroying our soil. The weather cannot be predicted anymore.
A call for a new development model is echoing worldwide as countries fall on austerity measures compounded by the shortage of food and water. Higher rates are imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
Poverty continues to rise and more Arab Springs are in the making. Cyprus is the latest victim, its financial system in near-collapse.
despite all the calamities and the continued
pronouncements that climate change is the single
most critical threat to humankind and the
planet, the old development model continues to
bully the weak and to accelerate the pace of
extraction of minerals.
But many are taking matters in their own hands and are doing volunteer work to mitigate the effects of climate change. Yes, things are changing, and with the election of Pope Francis, who advocates “helping the poor and the sick, all creatures and the environment,” there is hope.
People will hopefully get the message that God’s creation is being destroyed.
“There is a time when silence is a sign of betrayal,” Martin Luther King once said. And this is such a time. It is a time for all to make their voices heard. The louder their voices are directed to all leaders, from local governments to every head of state in the world, the better.
It is time to act and wage war on global warming and climate change. It is time to bite the bullet and step on the brakes against false development and progress. It is time to follow Germanys’ lead to go full-blast on renewable energy like solar and wind power. It is showing the way; we must follow its good example.
We must remember that Mother Nature sustains us all. We need to protect her from all pressure. She cannot take much more of human-induced pollution and climate change.
Make your voice heard. Take action in your own way. Lower your carbon footprint. Perhaps we may still have a chance to save our planet, our only home.
TO my surprise, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of the United States fleet in the Pacific, mentioned in a recent Boston Globe interview, that “the biggest threat is not North Korea, but climate change.”
Coming from a seasoned Naval Commander, this brings to the fore the seriousness of global warming and climate change.
We ourselves are witnesses to unpredictable global weather patterns. Consider the extreme and severe winter storms in Europe and in the United States, along with the droughts and extreme heat in Africa and the Middle East and the unusual rains all over Asia. These all occur too fast, too soon!
What is disheartening is that when these natural calamities happen news headlines focus more on current events and the economy rather than major disturbing weather patterns. Much like the truth being taken for granted.
Let’s face it: The planet is dying and we are virtually mindless about it.
Sure, some concession came – the killing of sharks, was banned during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) recently held in Bangkok, Thailand.
However, they want to mine the deep seas. Their careless decision, or perhaps their lack of foresight, are killing people in mining-affected communities.
Admiral Locklear’s statement only confirmed what many fear about the life threatening dangers of climate change.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) seems to be a complete failure in tis mandate to curb and mitigate greenhouse gases. It also failed to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350ppm which is the level needed to sustain life.
As of this writing, we have reached over 395ppm and we are experiencing the horrible consequences.
To make it worse, global poverty as well as over-population are both on the rise. Food shortages are occurring in many areas while clean water resources are starting to dry up.
Recently, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) mentioned that Asia will be running short of water by 2030. It may be sooner than that, as we continue to build on the same development model we were brought up with.
This model is a failure and the root cause of stagflation in the global economy. This is the so-called “development model” that destroys our natural resources. Isn’t that a misnomer?
I cannot understand the callousness and lack of action from our world leaders. Where is their political will?
What worst scenario must arise to compel them to act rationally and fast?
We need an urgent and radical change from this complacent attitude! We need a quantum leap of change, specifically in life style, education, production and consumption.
We have to upgrade our value systems and the footprints we make as our legacy.
Our biodiversity is dying. This is no joke, as others may think it is. The deserts are expanding from the Sahara in Africa to the Gobi desert in China. Even the city of Beijing is being engulfed by toxic, dark air.
How can people be so blind?
The planet cannot sustain this present development model. The sooner we accept that as a grim reality, the better for all of us.
We cannot afford to wait. Nowadays, the awareness is running high that more and more people are starting to take matters into their own hands.
Volunteerism is on the rise as youth and adults alike get deeply involved in mangrove and terrestrial reforestation. Coastal clean-up activities are becoming visible as well as setting up sanctuaries for endangered species such as turtles.
We need to do much more than these to help in speeding up the planet’s healing process. We need to step on the brakes regarding manmade pollutions.
We can opt to use renewables instead. We can reforest our mountains and protect our forest. We can stop ocean-acidification and marine pollution. We can slow down our carbon footprint.
WE CAN WIN this battle against climate change.
It is a war we cannot afford to lose.
Environment Press Release - The Visayan Daily Star, Monday March 4, 2013
A mangrove planting with feeding and outreach program was recently held in Barangay Punta Taytay, Bacolod City, by the Ecological Society of the Philippines and the JRS Express, a press release from organizers said.
The activity was phase one of the group’s environmental and humanitarian project title “ESP 2013: A Green Crusade”, that aims to contribute to massive reforestation and spread the volunteerism campaign to help protect and rehabilitate the environment.
A seminar was also participated in by residents, with ESP volunteer project organizer, Malu Gacuma, discussing the use and benefits of solar cooking to save trees and help combat climate change in the grassroots level, the press release also said.
The parabolic solar cooker was conceptualized by ESP president and JRS Express chief executive officer Antonio M. Claparols.
Around 100 poorest of the poor children received two kilos of rice and several pairs of Burlington socks, and were treated to chicken arrozcaldo, sandwiches, juice and candies.
The project was in partnership with Burlington Socks Industries Philippines, International Order of DeMolay-Serafin V. Aguilar Chapter Chapter and Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines-Kanlaon Lodge No. 64 and the Barangay Council of Punta Tayta, the press release added.
THE new year has barely began and we are faced with so many pressures.
· The northeastern seaboard of the United Sates has experienced the worse snowstorm in years. The extreme weather has affected everything from travel to food security and power.
· The lives of the people in New England have been subjected to one of the worst snow storms ever.
· The worsening man-induced climate change has placed the most powerful country in the world on a stop-and-survive mode.
Why are we allowing all these to happen?
While the U.S. and Europe freeze, the rest of the world also suffers the same fate. Snow, rain and sleet cover many northern countries; ex-treme heat and drought impact on other areas.
With all that, what has befallen our planet and its people?
With all the strange, unpredictable natural calamities, there does not seem to be a big push forward to combat global warming and climate change.
Leaders focus more on how to revive the economy. Yet, the world economy struggles from a downward route, shown by the rise of un-employment, poverty and global crisis everywhere.
Is there no amount of stimulus anymore to re-charge the economy? Many must be unaware that even over-printing of paper money contributes to the ongoing global inflation.
The austerity measures to be imposed in the United States, Europe and other countries will eventually take their toll on the people.
One can expect the rise of problems such as lesser health and medical services, lesser welfare and lesser social security.
What many have labored so hard for so many years, in the form of savings and retirement benefits, will only go down along with the system that is going broke. Is this the promised picture of progress and development world leaders continue to assure us of?
We are dismayed by the slow action being taken by the same world leaders. Hence, we are urging our leaders to take the lead now and win the battle against global warming and climate change.
The world has reached a stage of ecological disasters, and of ecological irreversibility.
We are running out of clean water and food. Our forests continue to be illegally-logged. Our mountains continue to be horribly mined.
Mining companies want to extract the last ounce of gold and silver commensurate to their vested interests.
Unless we move against such abuses, we become the victim. Should we allow them to continue with their wanton destruction of our environment?
I am happy to see that there are now more and more people aware of the urgent environmental protection and rehabilitation our planet needs. This offers hope that the battle against climate change can be reversed.
More and more people especially the young have embarked on volunteerism and enhancing the environment.
Our numbers continue to grow as more and more volunteers, especially the youth, step up.
It is a slow but sure process. All efforts will reap beneficial results.
I know that hope springs eternal.
· We embark on massive reforestation projects, conduct seminars on the use and benefits of solar cookers to save our trees, widen mangrove forests, save some endangered species and push for “zero waste” models in the metropolis and elsewhere.
· We must de-progress and step on the brakes on problems about extraction and pollution.
For what good is development if, in return, we are made to breathe polluted and toxic air such as what people in Beijing live with.
Time is not on our side. Everyone must do something for the good of our environment.
Many can start right in their own household or by adopting disciplined lifestyle. Imagine what we can achieve if we collectively agree to save our dying planet
The echo a wise saying: “It is not even a choice we have to make. It is our responsibility.”
THE 97,030 square-meter Tubbataha is a World Heritage site and a UNESCO-protected marine park famed for its beauty and diversity.
It is considered one of the best dives sites in the world, having two coral atolls that harbor a wide range of marine species including 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds, and sea turtles.
How on earth can a U.S. warship, so technologically-advanced, run aground in a world-re-nowned coral reef?
Despite its zonar, radar, GPS and other highly-sophisticated equipment, the USS Guardian, a 68-meter-long U.S. Navy minesweeper, recently hit and destroyed part of the Tubbataha reef in the Sulu Sea.
The warship reportedly had “technical problems” that made it difficult to steer its way against a storm path, thus it got marooned on the reef.
The see accident caused damage to more than 1,000 square meters of corals.
The presence of USS Guardian in a protected area is questionable. It clearly violates sections 19 and 26 of Republic Act 10067 known as the “Tubbataha Reefs National Parks Act of 2009.”
The United States Navy recently offered its apology over the incident, but is apology enough to compensate for the damage done?
Experts said that it takes “10 years for the said reefs just to grow an inch”. They conclude that it could take “more than 10,000 years before the corals will regrow to their previous state.”
What good can a mere apology do? Albeit apology accepted, the United States government must still be legally-compelled to pay our government for the damaged reefs.
What is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) doing about it? It has to step into the picture to hasten the process deemed needed.
The vessel still remains in the reef and the damage will get much worse if the warship is not removed.
Should the ship have nuclear arms and the usual ordnance and fire power present in every warship, then we are in for a much worse scenario.
The ship can sink, explode and spread its devastation all over the Sulu Sea. Salvage operation must be done – and fast!
We cannot cry over spilt oil or fuel! We cannot afford another se disaster!
On the global front, the environment is a victim of global warming and climate change as well as pollutions and ocean acidification.
Our natural resources are in dire danger. Yet, doubts prevail on how to save the planet.
Sadly, the environmental movement seems slower than expected. Environmental laws, such as RA 10067, must be obeyed at all cost.
Violators must be dealt with accordingly. It is the moral responsibility not only of environmentalists, but of each Filipino, to urge our government to implement to law. The time for excuses is over.
Saving the planet starts by saving and protecting our own territory. To do that, there is no room for any excuse.
Not even an apology.
AS of this writing, scourging heat embraces ‘down under’ as Australia heats up like it has never done before. Already deemed as half a desert, its aridity seems to expand enormously.
The climate change debate is indeed beginning to reel off in Australia.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, the smog and polluted air are both taking their toll on the population.
Despite the danger, the business-as-usual attitude prevails at a faster rate in this emerging economic giant, with its 1.4 billion citizens all at stake. I Wonder how this pollution directly effects their respiratory health and well-being?
China must act now, it being the biggest emitter of green-house gases, overtaking the United States.
The atmospheric carbon dioxide has reportedly reached over 390ppm (parts per million) and its exponential growth will go over the 2-4 degrees C threshold needed to sustain life and reverse the destruction of our planet.
This cannot go on and must be changed for the better. Many are taking the lead to combat and abate climate change, both here and abroad.
No country can ever boast of its economic or industrial progress and development, based alone on its Gross National Product or the amount of gold reserves it holds, it its own people and environment both become unwitting “collateral damage”.
In his book entitled “The World Until Yesterday,” Jared Diamond said it was barely 75 years ago when transformation of traditional societies from being self-sufficient island states (where they do things on a sustainable method) is a far cry compared to today’s over-consumptive and wasteful societies.
The author underscored that disputes then were solved by dialogues held around a tribal fire, ending up in peace for the nation.
How ironic that today, with presence of unbeatable judges and panels of lawyers, cases usually end up even more complicated, seldom in peace.
When will we learn from history and traditional societies?
Internationally, Warren Buffett has increased his investment in the solar power industry to over $2.5 billion.
In Germany, the government continues to invest heavily on cheap solar and wind power after its commitment to veer away from nuclear energy, stemming from Japan’s tragic nuclear plant experience.
Shouldn’t genuine progress of a country be gauged simply by the richness of its environment and happiness of its people?
This is not a Utopian benchmark. This exists. It can be possible. One only has to travel to a small, remote, humble and yet happy place called Bhutan.
In the local setting, notice how more and more initiatives, such as introducing the use and benefits of solar-cooking and strengthening massive reforestations projects, contribute to environmental progress.
Education and advocacies may spread throughout schools and communities like wildfire, with lifetime influences that can be handed to our succeeding generations.
However, like wildfire also, the initiative can easily wane if we do not nurture the collective attitude necessary for such endeavors.
Would we allow ourselves to be merely fence-sitters, watching, waiting for consequences to unfold, until we are next in line to suffer from environmental hazards?
Or should be challenge ourselves to do all we can so that we can redirect this worsening environmental scenario both continents are experiencing ahead of us?
I reiterate that this is possible! A green crusade has to continue at all cost.
We all must do our share onwards as the UNFCCC continues to move backward after the futile Doha climate change conference. They talk, we walk. Words against action. Simple.
We must learn from traditional societies and the norms of old.
Let results eventually be the judge.
The year 2012 passed into history with a record-breaking number of calamities: floods, droughts, storms, supertyphoons. Calamities hit the planet, all in extreme degrees, sparing no country.
The United Kingdom experienced the worst flooding in years. Ukraine and its neighbors went through extreme cold weather conditions; it “stood still” as the winter snow breached -27 degrees Centigrade.
In our country, an unusual pattern of weather disturbances took shape, causing unprecedented destruction in parts of Mindanao that through decades have come to be considered “storm-free.”
2012 broke both the “hottest” and “coldest” weather records.
How can we forget Superstorm “Sandy” after it humbled the United States, the most powerful country in the world, when it pummeled its eastern seaboard and the cities of New York and New Jersey, and left them in a “state of calamity.”
Frankly, I expected that after Sandy, the United States and the world would wake up and seriously tackle the urgent issue of battling global warming and climate change. But I was wrong.
The concerned leaders are looking instead into accelerating consumption and production. This is tantamount to spewing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus increasing their countries’ contribution to the worsening unpredictability of global weather patterns.
This is eco-suicide! Did anybody else ever notice?
In Doha, Qatar, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change failed again to reach an agreement that would abate and mitigate global warming and climate change.
Do the world leaders see all the strange climatic disasters? Are they so blinded by greed and an insatiable lust for power that they refuse to take a stand? How can they not see even the simplest indicators such as whales and big fish beaching themselves? Or the common occurrence of red tide, algae blooms and fish kills? Or the continuing ocean acidification and Arctic ice meltdown? The list goes on.
Are they waiting for Greenland to disappear from the map to convince themselves that global warming is real? Why can’t the world learn from Germany whose economy is moving ahead, with solar power replacing nuclear power as its main source of energy? Germany has disproved the claim that harnessing solar energy slows down progress.
We must follow Germany’s lead and abandon the world’s present “development model of destruction.”
Sadly, renewable energy development slowed down in 2011 and 2012, according to Bloomberg Energy. If this is any indicator of how things will be, then the future is bleak for our planet.
Still, we look forward to a new and challenging year, bearing in mind the worst calamities of 2012, but confident that mankind is up to this point still in a position to prevent the conditions that could lead to greater disasters.
For a better year to come, let us learn from the year that was.
THE Doha climate change talks are over. As expected, nothing was agreed upon to mitigate greenhouse gases.
Another victory? Yes, but or global warming and climate change polluters. It appears climate change talks these days are more like fish markets, by comparison, where negotiations occur.
What happened to the “polluter pays” principle? Shouldn’t polluters be compelled to pay for the damages – both irreversible and not – that they do to the world and to humanity?
Should they not be subjected to absolute justice leading to permanent cessation of their carbon-polluting enterprises?
This is a MUST! This must be in the agenda of any earnest discussion to combat climate change. But this is not what is happening in reality. Instead, their so called “negotiations” preclude the necessary solutions to this global threat we are all experiencing now.
This is not any corporation’s planet. This is our planet and polluters must pay for the life threatening carbon dioxide they have emitted. Consequentially, green house gases continue to rise.
Major polluters are relentless in their ways, without a hint of rendering apologies nor payments and good will – just denial and full blast pollution.
Our country is currently declared under “state of calamity” after the carnage brought forth by typhoon Pablo in Mindanao which was once typhoon-free. Many lives were lost and agricultural damages reached over Php9 billion as of this writing.
Who will pay for this damage? Who will account for the lives lost?
A typhoon may be a natural calamity with unpredictable pattern. Yet, to b aggravated, if not induced, by climate change due to man-made pollution is a different story. This is where we have to wrestle with major polluters!
They cause carbon dioxide to reach more than 390ppm in our atmosphere. The continuing increase in carbon dioxide will exceed the estimates and the Earth’s temperature is seen to rise over the 2 degrees Centigrade level.
Should we allow them to continue with their unyielding attitude, our planet will experience more devastating calamities never experienced before.
The world is now caught in a tight situation because of these polluters’ greed.
No amount of adaptation will save or secure us unless we win this battle against major polluters.
The Arctic ice now melts even faster. Species are going extinct. Water and food both are running dry as devastation creeps into the earth.
Do we need to experience more?
We must reforest our mountains and mangroves. We must protect whatever little is left. We must protect our oceans. We must go organic and stop industrial plantations. The list goes on.
We had been warned of peak oil and food, of peak water and clean air. They are happening now.
All the signs are clear.
We are following the history of Easter Island and what caused its extinction. Let us learn from history.
Let us unite and strengthen our resolve to win this battle against global warming and climate change, for our children and their future.
I daresay, we must also do our share and we can do it.
We are not appealing anymore. It’s about time to stop being passive.
THUS, WE ARE DEMANDING FOR OUR RIGHT TO LIFE THAT NO ONE HAS THE MORAL RIGHT TO TAKE AWAY FROM US!
IN the 19970’s, our family used to go scubadiving almost every weekend. Traveling all over the country for family enjoyment, I still recall how rich and pristine were the coral reefs and how the seas and their shores enthralled us. The mountains then teeming with forests left us in awe.
During our younger days, we used to play in a creek close to our backyard. The waters were crystal clear. We enjoyed the sight of lots of guppies! It was fun to follow the creek down and explore its mystery and marvel.
It was called the Maricaban Creek in Pasay. It traversed through Makati leading to Manila Bay.
The creek played an important role in our young lives. It helped shape our convictions to be responsible citizens.
We used to believe then, young as we were, that we belonged to the generations that could change things: ‘make a difference’, ‘save the world’, ‘rally in the streets’ and “give peace a chance”. These lines became our mantra.
Our young imagination was fueled by the troubled times. Who would not dream to be heroes or close to being such? At the back of my mind then, I had always wanted our natural environment to be protected. It is worth the fight since it is our home.
Today, that creek has lost its marvel. It still exists but without guppies in its waters, now turned so dirty. It is a mystery to me where the vast greenery next to the creek, such as the cogon fields, has gone.
Taking over the rustic environment is a vertical, urban jungle that has no biodiversity.
Now, I feel as if we failed. All efforts and struggles seem to be strained against those who make Mother Earth a dying planet. Our ecological richness was at its best and yet we fought to converse it – in vain. Today, the scenario has extremely changed. The planet is heating up un-controllably to dangerous levels.
We are being battered by pressures beyond our control. Climate change is becoming an enemy as worst as the global polluters causing it. This must be stopped and we must prepare for what is to come. To ensure economic progress, we always advocate for self -sufficiency based on our rich natural resources and bounty of our mountains and seas.
Let us do our share and restore our environment that we used to have. De-progress, restore and save our ecology for our children and the future generations to come.
Environment, after all, has to be nurtured. Not for the way it was but for the way it should be.
AS I write this, super typhoon “Pablo” has cut a swath of massive destruction on Mindanao, an island that was once free from typhoons. Mindanao which takes pride in its pineapple and banana plantations, is one part of our country which is considered best for those agricultural products that are sensitive to rainfall.
Ironically, as of this writing, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is meeting in Doha to address the mitigations of greenhouse gases and win the battle against climate change.
With super storm Sandy causing its recent devastation in the U.S. eastern Seaboard, it was hoped that the United States, under newly re-elected President Barack Obama, would take the lead in the climate change talks.
The very first indication that they are truly responding to the urgency of the times would be for them to sign the Kyoto protocol and make sure that greenhouse gases are reduced significantly. They must ensure these greenhouse gases are reduced to 350 rpm needed to sustain life on earth.
Many warnings have already been echoed on the irreversibility of the Earth’s temperatures, now increasing over the 2 degrees Centigrade mark.
Fears have been echoed that once the Earth’ s temperatures surpass the 4 degrees Centigrade level, this would cause a disaster for both living and non-living creatures.
There are reports that we have already neared, if not reached, such threatening stage.
The World Bank, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are some of the many institutions that have repeatedly called out this global concern.
With 2012 being the hottest year of record, with the flooding in Asia and South America, with super storms like Sandy and the continued droughts and floods that plagued the planet this year, these issues are everyone’s concern, not just homework for the experst.
And yet, as I finish this article, we can witness freezing weather in the northern parts of China and those countries in Europe.
With winter not officially calendared, the ice and snow arrived in advance, in deadly chill, all over the Northern Hemisphere.
The year is now ending with a typhoon impacting on an island whose plantations heretofore had less experience with such great devastations.
Nature will continue to lash out until her message of help will be heeded.
Should the COP talk in Doha fail, which I am certain it will, then we must take things in our own hands. In our own little way, so that together we would make the much-needed difference!
Resilience and perseverance, these are but two of the keywords.
Yes, it will be a year to remember.
Wouldn’t it be best to remember 2012 for its great significance to, and not of utter negligence of, this environment we call our home?
WINTER STARTED early and Hurricane “Sandy” came late and without mercy. And it was no ordinary hurricane; it was dubbed “Frankenstorm” because of the monstrous destruction it threatened to wreak on the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.
Sandy came at a time pre-destined by the heavens and nature—just a week before the presidential elections in the United States, the most powerful country in the world yet so meek before the wrath of nature.
One would think that after a series of “unusual” natural calamities over the years, the issue of global warming and climate change would be fully accepted by now and the need to mitigate atmospheric carbon dioxide tackled and solved. But skeptics remain, insisting that global warming and climate change are either a hoax or a paranoid doom merchant’s commodity.
What more proof do the skeptics want? Are superstorms and unusual global weather patterns not enough?
The Financial Times warned that the issue of climate change, if not addressed with urgency, can bring temperatures to rise to over 6 degrees Centigrade.
According to Jeremy Leggett, a convenor of the United Kingdom’s Task Force on Peak Oil and Energy Security, “a third of Xstrata’s revenues come from coal. Atmospheric research centers are telling governments that unless greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil and gas are slashed, we are heading for a 6-degree Centigrade rise in global temperatures. That would be economically and environmentally catastrophic.”
Imagine the polar ice melting and finally gone. Imagine the monster storms and devastating droughts. Imagine an increase of temperature to over 6 percent. Imagine the billions of people who already are affected by poverty.
We don’t want to sound like the dreaded prophets of doom. Yet, that seems to be the scenario unless we mitigate and win the war against global warming.
It is alarming to learn that the Philippines is one of the countries to be most impacted by global warming. We cannot just sit still. We need to shout out loud and lead the way toward climate change negotiations. We need to take action both here and abroad.
We need to adapt and mitigate in our own way global warming and climate change through continuous reforesting programs and by raising a buffer of healthy forests on our mountains.
We need to protect our coastlines and seas with mangrove forests and wetlands, since the seas are the last “bastion” of food supply for our people.
We must protect and enhance our habitats and ecosystems.
The present development model must be changed! As they say, “de-progress” and educate our children so that they may help and understand the causes and effects of global warming and climate change which now threaten their future.
An adage puts it simply: “Deciding and doing are two different things.” We must decide now and do something now. This is the only way we can all win the looming war for survival.
This documentary explores the startling phenomenon of ocean acidification, which may soon challenge marine life on a scale not seen for tens of millions of years.
The film was made to raise awareness about the largely unknown problem of ocean acidification, which poses a fundamental challenge to life in the seas and the health of the entire planet.
Like global warming, ocean acidification stems from the increase of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Leading scientific experts on the problem, many of whom appear in the film, believe that it’s possible to cut back on global warming pollution, improve the overall health and durability of our oceans, and prevent serious harm to our world, but only if action is taken quickly and decisively.
Watch the full documentary now
IT was just a matter of time.
All the signs have been present that we are running out of food to feed the world:
· The use of food for energy.
· The droughts, the worse in over 25 years, that ravage continental United States.
· The droughts and floods that devastated Asia.
· The increase in the prices of basic food such as corn, soy and wheat.
· The continued drop in food yields due to climate change, soil erosion and floods.
· The destruction of our biodiversity.
· The continued logging and pollution of our planet.
As of this writing, the G2O is calling for a special session on global food security.
The United Nations has called on the United States to stop using food for energy.
Our oceans, which make up over 71 percent of our planet and which contribute much of the protein food for the people are losing their resilience.
Once marine life is devastated, it loses its capacity to replenish itself.
Good fish catches and the supply of big fish are gone due to wanton trawling and dredging.
Continued pollution, ocean acidification and man-induced climate change are taking their toll not only on our oceans but also on the air and land resources.
Plastic, which make up 90 percent of all wastes in the oceans, continue to fill our gyres and dead zones keep on increasing.
The ocean’s oxygen supply has gone from bad to worse, to being acidic, damaging coral reefs and adversely affecting the marine food production.
Such horrendous damage may take decades to be naturally replenished.
Another adverse effect would be the prompting of algae bloom, negating the reproductive stimulus of big fish to multiply.
Consider the great whales, which only give birth once and need to travel thousands of miles to feed, mate and spawn.
Our great whales are in danger of extinction since their environment has turned acidic!
Yet, there are countries like Japan and Iceland that continue to hunt the poor, harmless great whales despite the efforts of the International Whaling Commission to stop whaling.
Let us give our planet time to replenish herself.
Let us give our planet time to replenish herself.
Let us give our planets and mountains time to grow.
Our marine-protected areas must be in-creased if we want to save our seas from dying.
It is with a heavy heart that I see world leaders not paying attention to protect and conserve our dying planet.
Have they not learned from history?
Don’t they remember what happened to Easter island, the Mayan civilization and many that followed?
Let us not forget that all things are interconnected. The web of life is now in dire danger.
Let us not forget that all things are interconnected. The web of life is now in dire danger.
Let us avert our civilization’s decline due to recklessness and greed.
That will be indeed the end of the line.
We challenge governments and our leaders to show the world that we can do it – that we care for a healthy ecology and a sustainable economy.
Should the challenge be unmet, it will only be a matter of time for disasters to strike.
THE naturally beautiful and culturally rich Jeju Island known as the “Island of Peace”, a special autonomous province of South Korea and the site of the last World Conservation Congress is now itself the center of a growing controversy.
Behind the controversy is Motion 181 which calls for the protection of the people in Gangjeong, a 400-year-old fishing and farming village in the island. Jeju has been in harmony with nature for thousands of years.
Motion 181 centers against a planned construction of a U.S. naval base on Jeju Island.
The peaceful island is deemed to be geographically-strategic as it is surrounded by China, North Korea, Russia and Japan. This island is a World Heritage Site and a biosphere-reserved by UNESCO. It is also protected by international law.
Definitely, the building of the U.S. naval base will impact on the island and the people. Soft-coral reefs offshore will be destroyed when the seabed is dredged to get U.S. warships into the port.
Any Environmental Impact Assessment will show the devastating effects of having a naval base in Jeju. Protective of the Heritage Site, some activists groups, fired up by Motion 181 met with the villagers and they collectively rallied peacefully outside the Congress Hall while the motion was put to a vote in the plenary. The Government House had more abstentions and ”No” votes were gained more than the “Yes” votes.
The NGO themselves voted strongly for the Motion and against the construction of the U.S. naval base.
This development is saddening for it shows once again little respect to save the planet and can only contribute to further dimming the future of our planet and our people.
Already the world is suffering from drought, typhoons, floods, shortage in food and water, extinction of species, poverty and biodiversity destruction. Aren’t these enough to jolt our leaders to their senses?
The planet cannot sustain the present development model and the end of the line is near. We need a massive transformation and we did not see that in the Congress in Jeju.
We must be more vigilant in our efforts to conserve our planet – or else face the consequences of more calamities.
The world must keep an eye on how to avert an environmental asset like Jeju Island contributing to be a collateral to military progress.
Let Jeju Island be freed from being under siege. Let it continue be an Island of Peace.
WE now live in the most challenging times, faced with a reality that Mother Earth is now gasping for her last breath!
The vital signs are clear: Global economies are in shambles; unemployment rate continues to rise; poverty continues to spread even in the most progressive cities around the world, new diseases are surfacing, and global population is unstoppable.
More than two billion people now live below the poverty line – deprived of a basic necessity: Water.
“Where there is Water, there is Life!”
Water sustains our survival.
However, water resources are running dry at a very fast rate. Sadly, over 40 percent of our rivers have been dammed, preventing the much needed nutrients and rich sediments from naturally replenishing our mangroves and wetlands, where the food chain starts.
Back home, after several dives in different parts of the country, we witnessed the effects of man-made pollution reaching our seas.
It is very alarming how high acidicity ion, along with man-induced climate change, gravely affected the oceans!
How many people realize that oceans make up 71 percent of our planet, supplying us with 50 percent of the oxygen we need to survive?
With rampant abuses, negligence and lack of awareness, the world continues to experience a fast decline in marine food production.
Compare the volume and size of marine catches we have now, to those enjoyed by our ancestors 50 years ago!
THINK OF HOW WORST this scarcity of marine food will become 50 years from now!
I REFUSE TO ENVISION A future generation praying for a handful of fish to catch in the wide seas!
I FEAR TO FORESEE future generation of children not recognizing a turtle … or a crab or a jellyfish or a whale shark is… because none exists anymore by then.
Is this scenario possible?
Yes! YET, THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN!
If we look at our land resources, we can witness worse abuses, such as wanton mining and quarrying – destroying forests through illegal logging and leaving mountains vulnerable to flash floods, soil erosion and landslides.
We are silent witnesses to countless lives already taken by such man-made catastrophes! Imagine such tragedy coming to our own family!
Will we allow our selves to remain as silent witnesses to this cycle of environmental abuses?
THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN!
It is ironic that despite all the warning signs of a dying Mother Earth, the business-as-usual attitude remains – massive consumption and a wasteful pattern.
It is high time that we change this prevailing global attitude.
If there is comfort, I see a movement to change the old ways.
DAEJAYON IS one organization that has embarked on an initiative to combat climate change.
Many youth organization have joined this movement.
Just a few months ago, students from the Philippine participated in the Global Youth forum in Seoul. More and more young leaders are enlisting themselves voluntarily, so that their voices would be heard for the sake of our environment.
Young people from all over are introducing their own environment-friendly techniques and inventions, contributing their skills, talents, and time for Mother Earth.
Back home, we have adopted and expanded mangrove forest sites for reforestation, with youth volunteers having the highest attendance. We also held Environmental essay-writing and art contest in schools for increased awareness.
New initiatives such as introducing the benefits of using solar cookers to stop burning of wood are among the many responses to the Earth’s degradation. These initiatives need to be adopted more widely.
Our educational system needs to give more focus on social and ecological systems. We need to transform our ways at a massive and faster rate, if we want to succeed.
To the youth I say: You are the hope of our dear planet. Let your voices be heard … let your actions be followed by the rest of the world.
As the late Professor Elinor Olstrom said: “Let us reclaim the commons!”
I say: “LET US DO IT NOW!”
Let this be our legacy – for our children and their future.
(Excerpts from a speech by the author at DAEJAYON Green Campus Conference held during the 5th World Conservation in Jeju, Korea. Antonio M. Claparols is President of the Ecological Society of the Philippines, IUCN-Member IUCN-CEESP.)
In Metro Manila alone, more than 12 million inhabitants, especially in the young, the poor and the elderly, are now affected by polluted air. Everyday, we breathe this polluted air, piercing our lives like a slow death in process.
This was among the messages from Green Convergence’s SONA – State of Nature Assessment. The Green Convergence is a coalition of NGOs for safe food, a healthy environment and sustainable economy, whose stake-holders include a cross section of society: government officials, civil society, NGO’s students, farmers and teachers.
In this year’s SONA we heard the grassroots speak – farmers, fishermen, indigenous peoples and the urban poor. They had one thing in common: a struggle against the dying environment that is affecting their lives and cultures.
Their messages were telling:
· Fishermen said their fish catch has gotten less and less.
· The farmers experienced droughts, floods and soil erosion. Their crop yields have gone down – like the rest of the global world.
· The indigenous people can no longer live in harmony and sustainability with nature as man induced climate change spares no one.
Wherever you are, the state of natural heritage is in dire danger. We are a planet in peril.
With peak food and oil prices now being experienced by the world and with the drought that continue to scourge the earth, highlighted by typhoons and hurricanes, obviously we have reached the end of the line.
As of this writing, two typhoons both gravely affected our country and ravaged Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
What can be more a convincing messages from Nature itself than the recent earthquake or the recent typhoons that hit the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and Japan earlier?
Sadly, these natural calamities have become occurrences. And I cannot see us and the planet take much more.
There will definitely be more Arab springs and the struggle for resources will escalate. Poverty will continue its exponential growth.
In the first half of September 2012, International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN will host the 5th World Conservation Congress in Jeju Island. Jeju is in island of peace in the land of the morning calm, South Korea.
That congress will tackle global problems and pressures on the earth’s environment. It will also delve on how to mitigate climate change.
It aims to hammer concerns ranging from culture, wild nature, and food security to water and to the state of the forests and oceans.
I can foresee Mother Nature taking control of the Congress in Jeju. May that help in her protection.
I expect the world will echo the stories we heard In Green Convergence’s SONA. When will the world realize that the planet is really dying and cannot sustain the present development model much longer?
We continue to hope that many will soon realize that this is the root cause of our planet’s degradation.
Only with this realization can we all move forward and save what little is left of God’s abundant creation.
For now, all roads lead to Jeju.
IUCN-CEESP; 53 Tamarind Road,
Forbes Park, Makati City, Philippines
Tel-63-2-633-9626 / Fax-63-2-6317357
Today, we listened to our SONA-The State of Nature Assessment done by Green Convergence, a coalition of NGOs for safe food, a healthy environment and sustainable economy.
Participants included a cross
sections of society: government officials, civil
society, NGOs, students, farmers and teachers.
This year’ s SONA was different as we heard the grassroots speak.
These are farmers, fishermen,the Indigenous peoples and the urban poor.
They all have one
thing in common: a struggle against the dying
environment that is affecting their lives and cultures.
Even in Metro Manila alone, more than 12 million inhabitants, especially the young, the poor and the elderly, are now affected by polluted air. Everyday, we breathe this polluted air, like a slow death in process.
This reminds me of the story of the fisherman that echoes the same message. The fish catch has gotten less and the catch smaller.
The farmer has experienced droughts and floods and soil erosion.
Their crop yields have gone done like the rest of the global world.
The indigenous peoples can no longer live in harmony and sustainability with nature as man induced climate change spares no one.
Regardless where you are.
The state of our natural heritage is in dire danger. We are a planet in peril.
With peak food and oil now being experienced by the world and with the droughts that continue to scourge the earth, then highlighted by typhoons and hurricanes, obviously we have reached the end of the line.
As of this writing, two typhoons had both gravely affected our country and ravaged Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
What more can be a convincing message from Nature itself than today's earthquake? It also resounded the typhoons that hit the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and Japan earlier.
I can foresee Mother nature taking control of the Congress in Jeju. May that help in her protection.
Sadly, these natural calamities have become yearly occurrences. And I cannot see us and the planet take much more.
There will definitely be more Arab springs and the struggle for resources will escalate. Poverty will continue its exponential growth.
On September 5-15, 2012, the IUCN or International Union for Conservation of Nature will host the 5th World Conservation Congress in Jeju island.
Jeju is an island of peace in the land of
themorning calm, South Korea.
The said congress will tackle the global problems and pressures to the earth’s environment. It will also delve on how to mitigate climate change.
It aims to hammer concerns ranging from culture and wild nature, food security, to water, to the state of the forests and oceans .
The world will echo similar stories we heard in today’s green SONA. When will the world realize that the planet is really dying and cannot sustain the present development model much longer?
We continue to hope that many will soon realize, that this as the root cause of the planet’s degradation.
Only with this realization that we can all move forward
and save what little is left of what was God’s abundant
For now, all roads lead to Jeju.
IT is not difficult to understand why we must preserve our seas and prevent further destruction to the marine environment.
Considering that over 75 percent of the Earth is water, our seas and oceans are the lungs of our planet. They supply us with over 50 percent of our oxygen and absorb over 30 percent of carbon dioxide. Close to two billion people rely on the seas for food and their livelihood.
There is no doubt that our seas play a vital role in our planet’s survival and yet, so little is known about it, hence we continue to destroy her.
The marine environment harbors three main ecosystems, all representing the beginning of the marine food chain. These ecosystem consist of coral reefs, mangrove swamps and estuaries.
All these ecosystems are in dire danger. Our mangrove forests and estuaries are feeling the havoc brought forth by terrestrial activities. Soil erosion continues when the rains come and top soil erodes to the sea. The pollution and climate change continue to take their toll.
Coral reefs are suffering the same fate as ocean acidification, pollution and climate change persist. It has been reported that 85 percent of our coral reefs are dead or dying.
Take note: we are the heart of the Coral Triangle. The benefits provided by these ecosytems have no monetary value. Money and economic stimulus alone cannot save the marine environment.
Mangrove forests, wetlands and estuaries are not spared by pollution as they continue to degrade due to ocean acidification and the fact that 40 percent of our rivers have been dammed, preventing valuable sediment to reach and replenish these ecosytems.
As the scourging heat continues to bear down on the United States, most of their agricultural produce suffer in what could be the worse drought that has hit the U.S. in the last 50 years. The price and supply of corn, wheat and soy have been affected. Never has it reached such a high cost as the supply will not be able to meet the demand.
The lives of most Americans will be affected as the economy and ecology continue to experience human-induced pressure of pollution and climate change.
While the United States is on fire, Asia is experiencing severe floods and typhoons. Our country has not been spared. This will trigger a food shortage and possible more Arab springs will unfold as the battle for resources is imminent.
Why do we need to reach this stage? Why do we need to mine and follow the old and destructive development model?
Why don’t we do things differently?
We must change our ways and recycle, reuse and maximize renewable energy.
To my surprise, there are multitudes of people who are unaware or don’t care about the sate of our dying planet.
Many of them are still stuck in old, consumptive and wasteful ways. They don’t even know that the air they breathe is toxic and the fish they catch, sell or consume contains high levels of mercury.
The ecology needs a massive stimulus to stop pollution totally and deter the prevalence of climate change.
We need a massive transformation in our ways, and we need it soon.
A stimulus of the environment – that is what we exactly need.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 79, which President Aquino signed on July 6, 2012, has sealed the fate of our people and country. It does not touch on the social and ecological systems of which we reply on for life. It only touches on monies and materials issues, old development models that have wrought havoc to this country since the 1900s.
The heat wave in the United States, the floods in Russia and the strange global weather behavior are all man-induced climatic changes-all related to mining and pollution.
Consider our seas from which we rely on for life and food. Already 40 percent of our rivers are damaged, preventing sediment and nutrients to replenish the wetlands and mangroves that are all part of the food chain, thus obviously doomed to eventual destruction.
The oceans absorb about 30 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide and plankton, and they are in danger as the PH level (alkaline content) goes below 7, causing ocean-acidification and coral-bleaching due to global warming. This is life-threatening.
Life in our oceans and lakes, as well as our forest and mountains, are all in danger. The number of dead zone have increased as there is not enough oxygen in the seas. The entire gamut of photosynthesis has been adversely affected.
Why do we need to sell our country? No one will help us when we are in danger. Look at Placer Dome and Marinduque’s deluge. After all these years, nothing has been done and no action has been taken against Placer dome, ironically a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals.
EO 79 will expedite the destruction of our island archipelago system and destroy our rich marine life. It will increase poverty. It will cause new diseases to arise—diseases that will impact our social and ecological systems.
It is not economics but ecological balance that we want to ensure. Our planet is our life, and our life is our planet.
However, our planet has been pushed into its tipping point – a point where there may be no turning back as the path toward destruction and its manifestation are clear.
The solutions are before us. We need to transform our ways and accept the fact that the present development model is the root cause of environmental and social destruction. We must realize that a development model must focus on sustainable methods used by our indigenous peoples in our forests and coasts..
We need to change our educational system to include the sustainable model focused on the social and ecological systems.
The days of narrow economics and expert arrogance are gone. The politics of destruction must now end and real transformation must take place now. We, together with our youth, must strive harder to save our dying planet.
To those behind EO 79, and those who have to know the threats it brings, let this be our strong message: Our natural heritage is not for sale!
AS I write this, the continental United States is engulfed by the worse drought and heat waves ever – reminiscent of the days of the dust bowl. The effects of the heat wave have affected the livelihood, agriculture and well-being of the people from the Land of the Free.
Prices of soy, corn and wheat have soared to expensive highs. What is worse is that the production and yields will go down, making supply scarce and possibly not able to meet demand.
These are clearly effects of global warming and climate change on ecosystems and habitats.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, floods and rains have devastated Asia and parts of Russia. These too have affected the lives and homes of people and the planet.
Why do we need to wait for calamities and disasters to happen before we act?
Already we have finished with Rio + 20 Earth Summit with nothing concrete to abate and mitigate the deadly effects of global warming.
Our forests, rivers and oceans likewise are affected by the wanton pollution and business as usual attitude despite all that has been done in conference; after all the calamities, the droughts, floods and typhoons.
Already, our corals reefs are bleaching due to global warming and ocean acidification.
In a recent dive we had in Anilao, we experienced reefs that had been damaged by man and over tourism. It has been reported that over 85 percent of our coral reefs in the Coral Triangle are destroyed and dying. Our forests and mountains are in the same state.
We seem not to be able to convince our leaders that the Earth is dying and that the pressures brought forth by humans will destroy people and planet.
We need to transform our consumption patterns.
We need to mitigate global warming and climate change.
We need to change our educational systems to include the protection and conservation of our natural heritage.
This must be done with vigor and haste for we do not have the luxury of time.
If not, we may face an ecological disaster that we have never seen before.
PRESS RELEASE RE: ESP/JRS EXPRESS ENVIRONMENTAL ESSAY & ARTWORK CONTEST - written by Malu E. Gacuma on Monday July 12012
The Ecological Society of the Philippines and JRS Express, in partnership with the United Architects of the Philippines-Mt.Kanlaon chapter and Silliman University, recently held an Environmental Essay-writing and On-the-Spot Environmental Artwork contest bearing the theme :” SIMPLICITY IN NATURE: HOW I SEE IT IN THE FUTURE.”
With the strong support of ESP and JRS Express president/CEO, Mr. Antonio M. Claparols and his brother, ESP co-founder and JRS Express VP,Mr. Javier M. Claparols, along with SU President Dr. Ben S. Malayang III and UAP-MK, thru ESP Negros' volunteer Project Organizer Malu E. Gacuma, the said events were jointly held on June 23, 2012 , a Saturday, from 8:00 am to 12 noon at the Main Library of Silliman University.
According to Claparols, a staunch environmentalist, : “ This is in line with our commitment to educate the youth , to make their voices heard and to allow them to take part in environmental conservation due to the deteriorating state of our environment and our planet’s degrading condition. As future leaders,our youth is a silent oasis of ideas and conviction.They must be heard now.”
Based on results of the judging panel led by Architect Jorge M. Mission, president of UAP-MK,the top three ( 3) winners of the Artwork contest , who were all from the Fine Arts department, were immediately declared at 2: 00 pm of June 23. First prize winner was Entry No. 16 by Tevet Margaret Vanguardia who received Php 5,000 in cash; 2nd Prize winner was Entry No.8 by Vince Andrean Bandiala who received Php 3,000 cash and Third Prize winner was Entry No. 9 by Sha’Anne Lawas, who received Php 1,500 cash.
Meanwhile, awarding of the environmental Essay-writing contest were announced on July 7, 2012, a Saturday at 11 am at the same venue. The top three ( 3) winners were Entry no.2 (“Nature’s Nature” ) by Diane Petersen who received Php, 5,000 cash as First Prize ; Entry No. 9 ( “ In A Hundred Years or So”) by Mel Ann Clair C. Bagaipo who received Php 3,000 cash as 2nd Prize and Entry no. 1 ( “Nature: Just What the Doctor Ordered” ) by Mariella Bustamante who received Php 1,500 cash as Third Prize.
The said winners also received their individual environmental trophies during the July 7 awarding ceremony.The said trophies were designed for the event by Bacolod City-based Architect Dominic E. Diocson of UAP-MK.
The noon sun burned and the heat was just unbearable. Hours later, darkness took over and the night began with thunder and lightning. A heavy downpour followed, causing floodwaters to rise. Expectedly, transportation stood still.
As I write this, the rains have ceased. But in the rest of the world, extreme drought and rain alternate in buffeting the planet—not in a matter of seasons but in a matter of hours! The global climate has been altered by man’s carbon footprint and the ongoing “development model.”
The planet cannot endure more of the pressures bearing on it. The costs of living have increased everywhere. Poverty continues to grow, along with the population.
Greece has voted for new leaders. Welcome development, perhaps, if not for the circulating news that it wants a moratorium on debt payment. Frankly, I see no harm in that scenario, considering that the global business world is running on debt and more restructured debts. What makes the scenario worrisome is the rising corruption rate among the rich. How often do we read and hear of some corporate names once respected but now tarnished with fraud and corruption?
The time has come for stockholders to act and speak out! It is encouraging that some have already done so, putting a cap on CEO earnings and saying “No!” to environmentally and socially impacted transactions. They are obviously aware that these are the causes of climate change, which will forever kill the planet.
Yet, world leaders are still engrossed in saving the anemic global economy by imposing austerity measures on peoples and countries that have done no harm. We need to see the same iron hand applied to those damaging Mother Earth, specifically those who harm our environment in the guise of development and progress.
Development means making life better for the people. It means providing better food, better water supply, better shelter, as well as better employment to sustain their living.
The “development model” now being used globally has failed and must be changed. The sooner it is done, the better. Anything that falls short in responding to this urgency allows more abuse of the environment.
The time has come for better change to unfold, and that time is NOW!
WHEN it rains it pours, as the adage goes, yet in reality, it pours with a vengeance we all have seen before.
Our planet is heating up faster than the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and many others have predicted.
Agriculture and food security are both at risk, more so with most of our water resources heavily depleted and polluted. The air we breathe has become polluted that we can all feel the pollution around us.
Looking at Rio+ 20 WORLD SUMMIT in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the prognosis is that little can be expected to be achieved. Why?
Consider this: it may be dubbed as the “conference of conference” and the summit is expected to guide the world on the repercussions of the destruction of our land, air and sea.
Yet, our environment has gone from bad to worse since the historic Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.
Biodiversity loss has increased at a rapid pace. Poverty is at an all-time high and its growth in now seen as exponential.
Logging and extraction are still wantonly continued by the culprits.
Despite this grim scenario, the business-as-usual attitude continues unabated.
But life is balanced. The good news is that a few corporations such as Google, LEGO and IKEA have invested over $500 million into renewable power sourced from wind to solar farms.
Their move only proves that they want to be different from those who plant trees to ‘green wash’ their sleek operations. It is a move that needs to be emulated by most, if not all, corporations.
These few and many unknown souls are doing their own thing to abate and combat climate change. They are the real heroes, albeit unsung at these challenging times.
As of this writing, it is expected that U.S. President Barak Obama, as well as UK Prime Minister David Cameron, European Central Bank head Mario Draghi and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be involved in the Rio Summit.
Do they realize that their presence will be valuable for more than 50,000 of today’s unsung heroes expected to attend and cry out for Nature? No pun intended here, but should the said leaders not attend the summit, we can only surmise that they may be avoiding to be the right trees to be barked at!
There must be a clear road map after Rio—clear meaning “with targets and goals.” It also means a road map with a new development model which calls for ecological security, unlike the old models.
At this crucial time for our deteriorating planet, clear changes are needed with urgency, radical as they may seem.
How? It is just common sense.
The only sense needed, uncommon as it is.
-- It has been quite sometime since I had visited
Sydney, Australia. The last time was in July, in the
winter of 2009.
My recent visit was mainly to attend the graduation of my son, who earned his degree in Economics from The University of New South Wales. We are all very proud of him and of all those who graduated along with him.
Ironically, these graduates are welcoming the real hurdles in life during what can be the most turbulent period in human history: with the global economy in shambles and expected to get worse.
China has just announced the slowdown of its economy. This will have a dramatic impact on the global economy now already deemed ‘anemic’ on its own.
Then, there is Europe that is expected to go on ‘stagflation,’ a situation in which the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows down and unemployment remains steadily high.
Elsewhere, the United Kingdom has announced a double dip and slow growth. The elections in France and other countries have called for change. The Greek problem of bolting out of the Euro Zone has caused risk and uncertainty.
The United States will continue with its poor economic performance and yes, there will be more Arab springs. Worse, there may even be a war over resources, due to all these global uncertainties.
Alongside all these, poverty continues to rise wherever population does.
Now, here’s the saddest part: the environment continues to be degraded while the old business-as-usual attitude in the development model continues to go full-scale.
Mining and extraction continue to wreak havoc to our planet and our natural capital, considered the last of our resource base, is being depleted!
What surprised me during my visit here is the number of young graduates from France, Germany, Italy, China, Korea and the Philippines who all have found contractual employment here in Australia.
It is disappointing to find professionals who had to contend working as waiters and taxi drivers. They are obviously taking any kind of employment at hand, just to make a living.
It is good to hear, though, that most of them are just here for temporary jobs and are planning to go back to their respective countries in due time to be more productive.
We had an opportunity to go to Hunter Valley, a wine-making region which is two-hour drive from Sydney. It was in our itinerary for a whale-watching cruise, preempting the migration of Humpback whales searching for warmer waters.
Whales are mammals and breathe air like us humans. Their brains are much bigger than us homo sapiens. Like dolphins, they must surface to breathe air.
Sadly, despite the efforts of the International Whaling Commission, protection of whales seems to be a “call in the wilderness” since they are still being killed by whaling fleets from Japan and other countries.
Have the culprits not learned? Or is it, I suppose, their insatiable greed and lust for power and money driving them to continue their abuses?
As this prevails, the seas are turning into carbon sinks while the sea grass, coral reefs and mangrove swamps absorb much more carbon compared to the little forest we have left.
Action must be taken swiftly to protect our marine environment!
It doesn’t have to take an earthquake to awaken anyone of us from the holocaust of nuclear power. The world should have been awakened by the tsunami in Fukushima, if no lessons were learned after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As I write this, it very encouraging that still, there are many who never give up with their initiative to protect our resources. These are a handful few, who believe that the planet cannot sustain the present development model.
Such initiative led to the phasing out of nuclear power. This eventually led to solar and wind power now going full scale in Germany and Japan. I spoke to a student taking up his Masters in Architecture and asked him if he and his classmates are being taught Eco-architecture. It was to my surprise he said ‘No, they don’t’. Thus, I encouraged him to convince his professors to include Eco-architecture in their discussions, if not in their curriculum, and how urgently it must be done.
With all these in mind, I feel sad for the new graduates not only in Sydney but anywhere else in the world, as many if not most will not be able to find employment to start their lives.
It is difficult for me to express my dissatisfaction with our so- called world leaders. They are moving much too slow, too snail-paced, for the planet and for the people to survive.
This is where we have to use the spirit of volunteerism at its height! We must do things ourselves in many little ways.
We need to call the attention of leaders and compel them to fast track the use of renewable energy, to stop the use of oil and coal, to stop logging our forests, to go on a massive reforestation and to protect our ecosystems.
It is not just a responsibility of a handful few. It must be everyone’s moral responsibility to take action. If need be, we must use vigilance to keep our leaders focused!
We must choose leaders who will carry us on to the next century that would see our planet replenished and the ecology in balance.
We must act now with vigor and vigilance as Mother Earth cannot take much more pressure.
As Abigail Adams once said: “Great necessities call out for great virtues.”
We are experiencing the necessities. It is about time for us to use our virtues for better changing times.
BOHOL has many wonders. These include the Chocolate Hills, Loboc River, the forest home of the endangered Tarsiers – the world’s smallest mammal and Baclayon Church, one of the oldest churches in the country.
Moreover, it boasts of: An eco-tourism center that takes care of the environment and people and culture, who make all the difference and the folk’s natural tendency to love and care for their natural capital.
Bohol was the site of the blood compact made by Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in the 1500’s. Bohol was also one of the two provinces to create their own Republic after the War of Independence against Spain, the other being the Cantonal Republic of Negros.
Bohol boasts of one of the best diving places in the country. Dive in Balicasag and enjoy the wonders of marine life and their bounty.
The sea turtles, bountiful species and pristine coral reefs always seem to amaze divers.
Recently, I had the rare opportunity -- really the second time – to visit the wonderful island of Bohol. My brother Javier and I set forth to visit and go diving.
Armed with our cameras and underwater paraphernalia, off we went.
After the great dive in Balicasag , we went to Oslob, Cebu, a two-hour banca ride from Panglao Island.
It was a rainy and cold morning as we boarded and began our journey. The waters were rough and after an hour and a half out of shore, the sun came out for us and we got ready to dive and see the gentle giants of Oslob – the Butandings, or whale sharks. We had the dive of our lives for never had we seen so many whale sharks!
It was a wonderful site. We saw several whale sharks just swimming around the cove where they were given shrimps. However, the whale sharks need their natural environment rich with plankton.
We had seen the gentle giants of Donsol. But to see so many whale sharks or Butandings is amazing! These gentle giants feed on plankton. Are these their migration paths and how did this wonder all began?
There is so much to learn about our natural capital, our home, the marine environment – rich and fragile as it is.
Let us follow the people of Bohol and conserve our natural capital.
NO matter where anyone goes these days, one would feel the scourging heat as the summer continues to sizzle. Even the desert continue to expand to urban centers like the Gobi desert invading Beijing.
There seems to be nowhere in the world that is exempt from that is exempt from this manmade environmental madness! Global Warming that is.
The strange and unpredictable weather has made agriculture difficult to sustain. Yields are lower as drought plagues the land. Both planting season and harvesting seasons get delayed, and yes, the yields are much lower compared to previous years. How can farmers continue to farm and feed the world sustainably with this worsening global heat?
I recently went to Tagbilaran City in Bohol to visit the tarsiers and for an underwater escapade. The wonders of Bohol go beyond the tarsiers and Chocolate Hills. The people there and their culture go a long way.
Site of the peace pact between Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Sikatuna in the late 1570’s Bohol even today – continues to boast of rich and diverse seas.
However, what could have been pure enjoyment was hindered by the extreme humidity, even right within the forest of Loboc. Everyone had a fan or a towel and a bottle of water. The heat was just unbearable! Perhaps the tarsiers may have their own complaint, quiet as they were, despite their adaptability even as the weather unpredictably shifted from too much heat to a sudden rain-fall. The rain that ensued was a relief after the scourging heat showed no mercy.
The islands of Balicasag and Pamilacan showcase one of the greatest coral reefs and marine life I have ever seen! There was no sign of coral bleaching caused by climate change, as far as I saw. I am convinced, though, that in due time these coral reefs would show signs of today’s climate change and its adverse effects even on underwater resources.
Coral bleaching has been found in many parts of the country and elsewhere in the world. The global heating process which is affecting both the atmosphere and the oceans of the world and might involve increases of as much as 2oC over next 50 years constitutes a serious threat to the survival of the coral, since this would mean that the tolerance limits would be overstepped.
The start of the marine food chain may be destroyed before we know it.
Preventively, we must respond with urgency to all these threatening signs of things to come.
Last week, more volunteers braved the scorching heat and immersed to knee-deep murky coastlines to plant mangrove propagules and enhance the mangrove forest in Punta Taytay in Bacolod City, all in the hope of spreading the urgent message: to protect the environment.
It will get hotter. That is the message. That is what we have to help stop as early as now.
How much more can the planet and the people take? Global economy is in shambles and food and water are becoming scarce. The social and ecological systems continue to bare the brunt of the pressures as mining and so called development are in full swing.
We need to act wit vigilance and with a collective effort.
We need to win the battle against climate change!
For our people and this planet we call our own.
It’s been a long while since I returned to the ocean, my “home,” so to speak, second to the forests. To see and marvel at the richness of the seas! The biodiversity is indeed unmatched!
This story begins in Bohol, an island in Central Visayas, rich in culture and, if I am not mistaken, one of the two provinces declared as a cantonal republic after the war for independence from Spain (the other is Negros).
We went to Loboc, viewing the rich and clean Loboc River along the way. Eventually, we also met with the smallest primates in the world, the tarsiers. These mammals sleep in the daytime and are awake at night, like bats. They gestate for six months and give birth to only one offspring.
The wonders that are the tarsier will go on forever as long as they are protected, conserved and treated with respect, even in their sleep. After all, they are mammals like us.
Then off we went to Balicasag Island, world-famous for its marine biodiversity, along with Pamilacan and other areas in Bohol.
We saw gigantic turtles, many of them just swimming freely, as well as schools of jackfish. The coral reefs are considered among the most diverse on the planet, and are said to be even richer than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Our being part of the “coral triangle” explains why we host the most diverse marine species in the world. We should take pride in that!
It was sheer joy to be back in the water. It was while scuba-diving long ago, in the 1970s, that we were educated and exposed to the environment and its crucial role in our lives. It was our “baptism of water” to the advocacy now being pursued for a lifetime.
I remember when Presidential Decree No. 1219, known as the “Coral Resources Development and Conservation Decree,” was issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos. We immediately went to Washington with Tom Garrett of the Animal Welfare Institute and lobbied with US Sen. Warren Magnuson to have Philippine corals included in the Lacey and Black Bass Act. It was amended and signed into law by US President Ronald Reagan in 1980, thus leading to the ban on Philippine corals from entering the United States.
In those days, one could find Philippine corals being sold as decor everywhere, from Paris to London to New York.
Unknown to many, this was one of our greatest achievements: Saving our corals and having them included as well in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (or CITES), with the help of Dr. Ed Gomez of the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Center, which today is an institute of great relevance.
Coral reefs, like mangrove swamps and estuaries, are vital ecosystems in the marine environment. Without them we will have no chain of life.
I am happy with the way Bohol has managed its environment, and hope that other provinces will follow in its footsteps.
I am proud to have gone back to our roots, our underwater classrooms, and to know that our marine species are thriving.
Let us protect and conserve our environment! This commitment has to be as deep as the sea.
THERE is a lot of joy brought forth when a group of volunteers headed by Malu E. Gacuma and sponsored by the Ecological Society of the Philippines and JRS Express and other project partners set out to plant and protect the mangrove forest in Punta Taytay, Bacolod City and to help strengthen the reforestation of Barangay Alangilan, which is now an emerging “Biking Capital” of Negros Occidental.
The project served as a Dental mission and feeding/outreach program as well. Nothing can stop the spirit and strength of volunteerism! There is where real power lies.
The importance of mangrove forest is immeasurable. They serve not only as breeding grounds for various species of fish and mollusk to name a few. Together with coral reefs and estuaries they represent one of the three rare marine ecosystems. These are breeding grounds, where the food chain begins. Where life begins.
Not only do they produce food and species, they teem with life after every tide.
Powered by the sun and the waves, the mangrove replanting project sends our a strong message: “Nature is crying out for help!” And she will unleash her wrath with heat, droughts and typhoons, with poverty and famine should we not change our wasteful ways.
As the earth’s economic debacle continues, so does the development model that continues to destroy our natural capital.
Imagine a businessman unemployed, think of a polyp building, cities of coral reefs. The second ecosystem in the marine environment where the food chain begins, There is no down time here as all species continuously build a food chain.
They are a “home which provides us with food. One can imagine how rich our oceans are! It is said that just the KIG-Kalayaan Island group supplies 25% percent of our marine protein and Palawan provides 50% percent of marine food.
Our planet is dying. The sooner we accept that and reverse the destruction, lower your carbon foot print, combat climate change, help every chance we have for life is fleeting but the seeds that we have planted will only grow in plant, hearts and minds.
These are the seeds of change, of hope and of faith. I still wish Earth Day was everyday and should it be be, we look forward to two more mangrove tree planting activities in Punta Taytay as well as more tree-planting events in Bgy. Alangilan, both in Bacolod City.
I’d like to acknowledge the tree-planting program of JRS Kidapawan and the volunteers who planted seedlings in Mt. Apo, our country’s tallest peak and home of the famed Philippine Eagle.
Like Pagasa: let’s fly feely. Happy Earth Day!
I HAVE always advocated the protection and conservation of our marine environment.
Personally, my education and introduction to environmental issues began underwater, while I was measuring coral growth and documenting them in photos. No one taught us ecology in school.
After our many dives, we realized that our rich marine environment, with its precious coral reefs were being destroyed by dynamite fishing, muro-ami fishing and the like. It was clear the coral reefs – the start of the food chain – were being destroyed ironically to catch the fish.
That was long ago and yet muro-ami fishing still exists today.
We are part of the coral triangle, with the richest and most diverse marine-ecosystem in the world.
Our seas are so rich – the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) alone supplies Manila with over 25 percent of its fish requirements. Palawan supplies over 50 percent of the fish demand of Metro Manila.
We are so blessed that we can be self-sufficient.
Last week, we went to Donsol, Sorsogon to swim with the whale sharks – those gentle giants that feed only on plankton. Plankton is part of the food chain; without them there will be no fish and no whale sharks.
The slightest taint of pollution doused on these waters will kill this part of Donsol. For instance, mining activities are going on in the Pacific side of Sorsogon and many parts of our island.
Our seas are connected and pollution will spread and destroy our greatest resource.
As I write this, typhoons are devastating Fiji, tornados and storms are battering Texas; there are droughts in Africa, and strange weather staggers people everywhere.
The climate has changed and wittingly or otherwise we have allowed it Our leaders have failed. We have failed despite the good fight.
We still have a glimmer of hope.
We need to act.
We need to save our seas.
We need to combat climate change.
We need to save our planet.
I recently visited Davao and was surprised to find it extremely hot and humid.
The greenery was still there, a sight always to be cherished, along with the marvel of our highest peak, Mount Apo, caressed by clouds.
But while walking around one night, I felt extremely uncomfortable and began to perspire. I rushed back to the hotel and lo and behold, it began to rain cats and dogs. In a matter of minutes the roads of downtown Davao near the Ateneo were flooded.
The next day I rode a taxi and the driver and I talked about the rains. To my surprise, he said the effects of climate change were upon us. I was happy to hear that he was reasonably informed about climate change.
And why should I feel so perplexed about the weather? Only in December, Tropical Storm “Sendong” devastated the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, which had seldom experienced weather disturbances. Weeks ago, parts of Australia were underwater, and parts of Europe were turning into ice, resulting in a number of deaths.
The effects of climate change have no boundaries, striking anywhere and anytime.
That’s it for the normal practice of agriculture. There are no regular planting and harvesting periods anymore. No forecast. And yet the world powers have no consensus on the ways to mitigate greenhouse gases and win the battle against climate change, a manmade disaster triggered by greed, oil and gold.
And for what and for whom? Already, the world’s economy is in shambles. The poor are poorer, the hungry even more. There are no jobs and unemployment is rising. Population is increasing and our forests are still being cut, our mountains continue to be mined. Our natural capital is fast being depleted.
What good is it if both the ecology and the economy are in disarray?
We need a drastic change and we need it fast. We cannot wait for any UN agreements for they may take forever. Let us do it ourselves. Lower our carbon footprint, go to renewable energy (more than 70 percent of the new sources of energy in the UK are renewable, like wind and solar), go organic, reforest.
Let us fight to conserve our planet.
It has not been a surprise for me to see how people in this day and age still cannot fathom the value that the environment plays in life!
In a recent conference on Mining and Ecology, arguments presented by anti-mining advocates and defenders of mining as an industrial platform for development. The issues centered on what policy direction would contribute significantly to overcoming mass poverty.
It was clearly affirmed that polyps build coral colonies that constitutes one of the marine environments most fragile food chains and ecosystems. Together with mangrove swamps and estuaries, they make up the marine food chain.
The marine resources are enough to feed the world and help absorb the carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses that we produce. In an earlier mining conference at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa, (a carbon neutral city) and himself multi-awarded personality and high up in the UN Global conservation leaders, spoke about his successful conservation advocacy.
He mentioned that Palawan has over 74 percent forest cover, way above any other location. Puerto Princesa alone provides the people of Manila more than 50 percent of their fish needs.
The KIG-Kalayaaan Island Group supplies over 25 % percent of the protein needs of Manila. Imagine the potential of all our other seas.Being part of the Coral Triangle, we are endowed with this richness and beauty and we must protect these rare resources.
Aside from hosting the UNESCO World Heritage site and its the famed underground river, Palaweños boast of over 1,370 islands filled with natural capital, biodiversity and a pristine environment.
They represent our truly last frontier for we have no other left.
The private sector and government must wake up to the fact that our country’s natural resources give us LIFE; that our natural capital and biodiversity are being destroyed and that once destroyed, they can never be replaced. No matter what the diehard optimists
A healthy ecology is good business.
I recently came from Mindanao and saw the damage wrought by Typhoon Sendong.
It is not the Mindanao that I knew-- for there is very little forest left.
Compounded by the effects of climate change, the continued rape of our natural capital is a crime of the highest order.
A crime that will destroy our people and planet.
It is time for a moratorium.
I HAVE always been against carbon trading as it was virtually passing the right to pollute. Who determine the right to pollute, and at what price?
Well, the price today of carbon is less than ten (10) U.S. dollars, from a high of US$35 per ton of CO2.
Given that most economies are in disarray and the climate change talks are in peril, investors in CO2 are broke.
And the Earth’s resources are degrading at a much faster pace. The business-as-usual-attitude rules the day.
What are we to do?
Corruption seems to be escalating along with poverty. This is indeed a bad sign. Greece is in turmoil as the EU zone trembles with fear of uncertainty.
The same sentiment is felt everywhere. We are in an age of uncertainty. Yet, our environment continues to be destroyed.
I traveled to Davao last week and, to my surprise, it rained so hard that in a matter of minutes the downtown area was flooded. The humidity and temperatures were high.
I travelled to Valencia, Malaybalay and Cagayan de Oro. It took me more than eight hours. The roads were under repair.
This World Bank-funded road was good six (6) years ago but not today. The effects of Typhoon Sendong in Cagayan and Iligan are testament to the deforestation and logging done.
Perhaps it is time to reconsider sustainable development and go for the self-sufficiency and sustainable use system.
We need to do things on our own and lower our carbon footprint. We need a massive reforestation program.
We need to go slow on development and step on the brakes. We need to lower CO2.
Only then will we be reassured that there may not be another Sendong.
thanks for this
as i said, fireflies emit their own tiny light
that come deep from their heart
light that can be seen at great distances
in the darkness of night
millions of fireflies converge
around a century old balete tree
in philippine rainforsts
absorbing its excess energy
bringing christmas to remote woodlands
if you have seen the youtube KILLER DAM
which features the stava dam disaster in italy
you should read this story
of the boac marinduque disaster
which was bigger than stava
at our very own backyard
placer dome never to this day
clean up its mess completely
why should we give tampakan
the heavens cry it out for vengeance
against the greed of multinationals
which have mutilated agrarian societies
tampakan dwarfs boac dwarfs stave
in size and immensity of tailings dam
the boac story will be converted to youtube soon
for the world to see
a massive environmental crime
that will repeat itself in tampakan
if we permit SMI XSTRATA to mine there
ENVIRONMENTALISM : AS AN INHERITED LEGACY ~ written February 18,Saturday,2012. by Malu Gacuma on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 4:29pm ·
With the fast-paced, technology-inclined lifestyle the modern world now lives in, it is not surprising why the young generation tends to become more and more oblivious on the importance of preserving, protecting and conserving ,most of all, loving the natural environment we have.
This is one of the dangers posed by the continuing industrial and technological progress of this world, which makes it appear that man-made progress can surpass what Nature offers for human survival.
This is false hope.
Natural resources are God's creation. No amount of human ingenuity can either compete with or surpass this biblical truth. Nature is God's own ingenuity.
Ergo, as privileged recipients or beneficiaries of His creation, we never have the right, whether morally or legally, to tamper ,abuse , and genetically-alter the bounty of nature.
Unfortunately, the world's continuing progress is rooted somewhere which contradicts this simple truth. I am not convinced that it has to take untimely cutting of forest trees, or the massive quarrying of our flatlands and coastlines, or the vagrant pollution of our rivers and seas--all for the aimless purpose of making our natural environment a defenseless collateral to a promised economic progress.
But it happens, everywhere, in any culture. It seems to have been blindly accepted as stamped truth, which should not be.
While it does, a silent majority watches, hears, sees, listens. They wonder, they may be confused, eventually they develop a collective attitude. They happen to be our young generation -- our children our youth.
They are the same silent spectators who would manage the world in the not-so-distant future. They are the heirs of either today's success or today's folly, of which both contribute to how these young minds would or would not value the environment.
How we influence our young generation for the good must always be treated with urgency. Why?
Comparative to developing the 'equally-threatened' love for and habit of book-reading these days, the same cycle can also be seen for children , in their formative years, to consider the environment with importance in their lives.
First, the children's interest about what Nature offers has to be " sparked". How? By letting them realize all the benefits of a natural environment. How do these benefits contribute to their survival? Why do they need to protect, to conserve, to preserve, to recycle? These are only but some of the countless messages that need to be conveyed.
In conveying such messages to the children and the young, it would be more effective to " speak their language" and to use visual aids, since children do react usually to what they often see, hear , feel and touch. They tend to take images and experiences with them to a lifetime. Most often than not, these would even hone their character as they eventually become adults.
By getting them involved consistently with environmental and humanitarian programmes or projects designed for their ages, we will be "planting in their young hearts and minds" the values of selfless service, sense of responsibility and accountability ,self-reliance and even resourcefulness, which all are but some of the key values every rational human being need to survive decently in this world!
As their interest is lit up, what follows would be the love for what they do for the good of their natural environment. How many poets, artists, painters, music composers, and even geniuses, were all fired up by Nature's bounty ,if not her beauty? This is only a mere example of the aesthetic side of what Nature offers. The gastronomic side --what we eat and drink-- is already a basic knowledge.
As interest and love for the natural environment now subliminally exists among these children ,the habit of taking care of their environment becomes 'instinctive' that will last for a lifetime. This is when it becomes their way of life."As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines".
Therefore, the legacy of loving and protecting the natural environment can be passed on to their own future generation, along with it the right attitude needed to thrive against all the odds.
This is when the spirit of environmentalism, carefully nurtured by time, becomes an inherited legacy.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols-President ESP) Peoples Tonight - Wednesday February 1, 2012
BEIJING, in China, has began to take action regarding its polluted air. The air there is so dark and dirty that flights oftentimes get delayed or cancelled.
What is worse is the escalating cost of air pollution-related sicknesses. More and more people are dying, getting affected and are demanding a change.
Why did Beijing have to allow the air to reach such bad levels.?
Could Beijing officials not have learned from history and planned their city and develop it?
This may be the single most positive action yet since China has overtaken the United States as the world’s most polluted country, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
I have often wondered how the people of Beijing could take all that polluted air?
How could they live a life in such an environment?
Now, with China hopefully geared to solving its problem, China may be the active player in the UNFCCC. In Durban, China pushed for the Kyoto Protocol though nothing was adopted.
I hope that China will see the light and use its wealth and technology to abate the situation and become a leader in the Climate Change dialogue.
Should the Chinese do so, then the wheels of development may take the right direction.
Germany is keen on going Solar and Wind, at the same time replacing Nuclear energy.
The Germans argue that the Earth cannot take much more CO2 and the threat of a nuclear holocaust is real.
While these conditions are unfolding, La Niña is here with a vengeance for climate change known no time schedule.
Brazil and parts of South America are flooded.
Our country continues to be victim of landslides and flash floods. After Typhoon Sendong that ravaged the island of Mindanao last December, another landslide occurred in a mining community in Compostela Valley.
How many more lives must be lost?
How much more damage must be done – before we heed the call to conserve our planet?
The need to change is now.
( written ~ Sunday,22 January 2012 )
All it took was a Facebook chat that lasted for just a few minutes,last September. As the online conversation ended, a mutual idea was hatched :'Why not spearhead a volunteer environmental project that would eventually benefit a struggling barangay and its less-privileged residents?'
After all, the person I chatted with was no less than staunch environmentalist Mr. Antonio M. Claparols ,or Tony, who is incumbent president of JRS Express and who heads the non-governmental organization, The Ecological Society of the Philippines.
I learned that after holding a councilorship position from 1996 to 2004 for the globally-known International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , he is now running again for the same position this September to continue imposing the country's stronger voice about environmental issues.
Also a deeply-spiritual person, Tony underscored : “ With the state of the Earth's environment in disarray and climate change mitigation not yet reduced and with the businessworld 's usual attitude still prevailing ,it is expected that natural calamities will continue to be at its worst. With what little we can do to protect God's creation ,it will go a long way. By this small project, it is hoped that many minds will change their attitude to protect and conserve the environment. “
With that idea in mind, I gave initial preference to Bgy.Punta Taytay, Bacolod City ,a once-gifted fishing village located at the southernmost part of the city. Perhaps because I've been hearing good reviews about Bgy. Capt.Rufino Alcala's dedication and persistence in pushing for environmental preservation and revival of the barangay's coastline productivity.
It less than two weeks, Tony donated the amount needed to purchase the said propagules. In fact, the donated cheque was officially turned-over to Bgy. Captain Alcala thru JRS Express Area Manager Carmelo " Meloy" Malata. This was published the following day thru local newspaper,The Visayan Daily Star. (Thanks to the kindness of its Editor-in-Chief, Miss Carla Gomez, whose family traces its roots in our Fabrica hometown.)
During our conversation, Mr. Alcala told me about his dream for the barangay : to see it grow into being economically-independent,with every resident productive ,all based on homegrown livelihood sources.He also whined about seemingly lack of financial and morale support from local politicians but he remained steadfast in his belief that the barangay would achieve that dream. He also envisioned having their own mangrove seedling nursery. I saw the propagules strewn all over the shaded areas,whether under the coastal trees or under nearby houses and he was right. But that would be the next concern.
With the help of volunteer members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (specifically from 1st Ward -Galo St. headed by Bishop Rollin Pioquinto Jr.) and employees of Capitol Government Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative ( CAPGEM )- Bacolod,eld by incumbent president, Elizabeth Suyod ( herself an Latter-Day Saint) ,we all had fun as we planted 750 mangrove propagules on the ankle-deep,murky seabed of Punta Taytay. Even children of some volunteers took part and enjoyed!
On December, I received an email from the barangay's project coordinator, Mr. Manny Tibus,about the status of the planted propagules. This was the start of the monthly report we requested to keep tabs with the progress of the the seedlings.It needs vigilance ,indeed, to ensure that the seedling would grow to their fullest in the years to come, and not end up yanked and sold somewhere by some unscrupulous persons.
This January , I decided to organize another mangrove-planting project and called it " HELPING HANDS 2012 "". However, this time it would be coupled with an Outreach program to benefit more or less 250 "Poorest of the Poor" children/recipients of the same barangay.Much more than that, I can see no other title that would befit such collective effort!
Again, Tony donated 1,000 propagules to be planted by volunteer LDS members. He graciously added an amount for the needed snacks as well. He also offered the assistance of their Admin Department, through his Executive Assistant,Ms. Nene Manalo in the process to make it easier for me.This starting gesture inspired me that it is the right time ,indeed.
Two more companies and a fraternal organization now joined JRS Express, ESP,LDS as major partners.
Long before I finished explaining the objective during our phone conversation,Makati-based Burlington Socks Industries,Ltd. General Manager and owner, Mr. Rudy Tan, readily agreed to donate high -quality , anti-bacterial children's socks . The items were weighed and they reached about 42 kilos!! To prop up this benevolent gesture, Tony Claparols extended a discount to the shipment fee thru JRS, which is not normally done in the courier company's daily business.The box finally arrived in Bacolod City and was delivered for free to LDS Galo Church.
As this progressed, members of the Bacolod-based Masonic fraternal order, Kanlaon Lodge #64, led by their Worshipful Master, Dr.Frank Tumaneng, willingly donated 500 propagules worth Php 1,500. My father, the late Dr.Oscar D.Gacuma, would have been happy to know what his brethren had done to support the cause.
Then Quebec,Canada-based LDS member, Christian Ocay, who once visited my family during his missionary days in 2009 ,volunteered to donate for additional snacks for 60 volunteers ,including those from the barangay.As someone I consider our "spiritually-adopted" family member, he also felt the strong volunteerism spirit despite his geographical distance! The advocacy indeed knows no bounds!
Meanwhile, Transcom Worldwide-Bacolod, where I am currently employed at, also agreed to take part! After sending an initial letter of invitation to Wilbur Gadicho ( Employee Relations Manager),my letter was immediately forwarded to Ms. Charmaine " Shai" Lizarondo, the Operations Manager who also acts as the company's leading coordinator for its humanitarian/environmental arm known as 'TranscomCares'. In a few days, I was surprised to receive a call from Shai, asking what else would be needed for the Outreach program.
I was ecstatic! She asked at the time I was getting worried where to get and how to raise 250 pieces of what I called "hygiene kits" ( made up of toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb and soap) . This is to emphasize the need for hygiene of the children while they are in their formative years. Developing such good habit can somehow prevent any medical uncertainties. It's a matter of educating the parents, but the hygiene kits would of course ," speak louder than words".
Shai agreed to the idea, then even offered the use of Transcom van ( with gas and the driver) , and to donate 1,000 additional propagules for volunteer call center agents to plant. The company would also provide the banner, Tee-shirts for the agents and their snacks. Within the day, she gathered her team of Operation Managers to disseminate the news to the rank -and-file level.
I help spread the news by word-of-mouth among my co-employees. Most often than not, I see a 'spark of interest', if not curiousity, among the agents who are dominantly in their early 20s. Most would ask me back : "Why are you doing this..what for?" or " Do you think it's worth all your effort?"
Hence, I immediately grabbed the opportunity to explain to them how important it is for the spirit of volunteerism to be encouraged ,especially in these times of economic downgrade. It is an invested effort, not a wasted one. At the same time, preserving our immediate environment means protecting not only this generation but its future.
There may be no monetary gain from these volunteer projects, but in due time, the benefit would be priceless! A mangrove propagule can grow into a sturdy tree that could last for hundreds of years! Think of how these trees can lead to livelihood and uplift one's " household economy '!
Imagine how all these efforts we do now would mean in the years to come! All it takes is planting a seedling....just like the message of volunteerism we want to plant in the minds of these young and yet willing generation.
Tony himself shared an insight worth pondering. As he wrote in his recent e-mail: “ All these Facebook chats may either be destiny or the will of God at work ,to save our environment and to alleviate human suffering.“
The rippling effect would be tremendous should more and more volunteers step forward in actively conveying this message. It only needs a willing heart and a helping hand.
To think all these wisdom started with one friendly Facebook chat.
Last year, 2011 was the worse economic, social and ecological year ever recorded. It has the year that the Earth shook and sent her cries for help.
The economy continued to rumble as the value of money was lost to inflation. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise.
Never has the global Insurance Industry lost so much due to climate change-related calamities. The people are suffering and it is apparent that the planet cannot sustain the present development model.
The ecology was worse off – the wanton destruction of our forests and watersheds, biodiversity and habitat loss, pollution of our rivers and seas. Climate change has brought forth typhoons and killer floods never seen before, especially in the island of Mindanao.
The droughts that have plagued Africa and the Middle East;
The fires and heat waves in the United States;
The earthquake and tsunami in New Zealand and Fukushima, respectively.
No country has been spared by the wrath of nature.
Until today, the floods in Thailand and Asia remain and we are still recovering from Typhoon Sendong.
The Arab spring has occasioned changes in the governments in North Africa and elsewhere.
Socially, the world has never seen so many upheavals and revolutions.
These cannot happen in 2012. Something will snap, be it an economic or monetary collapse, famine or a drought that will kill and dry our rivers and lakes or typhoons and floods that will show no mercy.
The people in UNFCCC are a disappointment. The planet cannot wait for them and we need to reduce green house gases (GHG) ASAP. The political will must show more teeth as these occurrences happen many times every year and will get worse.
Logging was pinpointed as one of the cause.
The once rich in biodiversity and forested Mindanao, our promised land, is gone.
All the signs are there and the answer is clear. The development model must transform with emphasis to social and ecological systems.
Let us learn from all these and make 2012 a good year.
I FIND it disappointing that till the last day for the COP 17 UNFCCC Conference in Durban, South Africa, I did not perceive a meeting of the minds on a tangible agreement that would reduce Green House Gases – so badly needed to protect the planet and people from the harsh and destructive effects of Climate Change.
Yet, there were over 20,000 participants lobbying for some kinds of acceptable agreement to save the planet from further destruction.
Will there be life after Durban?
If nothing happens, then it is goodbye to most of us and the planet – we can expect more typhoons, floods, droughts, poverty and shortage of food for the people. The storms and hurricanes will be more severe.
As I write this, UK and Europe are being ravaged by strong winds and snow, threatening to close down their transport system.
People will continue to suffer as poverty rises and the poor get poorer.
Biodiversity will continue to get destroyed and ecosystems will disappear. Ice caps will continue to melt and there is no way to stop the heat. The Earth will be warmer and hotter next year, making climate-related calamities more severe.
The effects of climate change this year have been very destructive. We have seen floods in Australia and in Thailand and typhoons and rains in the entire globe. These effects will only amplify themselves if there is no action and reduction of Green House Gases.
As I write this, our country is suffering from strange rains during this December month when normally there are no rains in December.
We call on all concerned to do what they need to do to lower their carbon footprints and reduce GHG – if there is no action in Durban.
We all need to unilaterally put an end to this heat and warming:
· By slowing down pollution and consumption.
· By going into renewable and clean energy.
· By following the example of Germany and getting out of Nuclear Power and going full blast on wind and solar.
The world has seen that the technology for wind and solar power is there and is affordable. It is the only way to combat climate change.
There is life after Durban, with wind and solar power.
We need to do all on our own and unilaterally reduce GHG and save our planet.
It is December, 2011 and the latest typhoon that hit us – the 19th this year – ravaged Mindanao island.
From the latest reports, more than 600 people died due to the flashfloods and landslides that hit Iligan City.
Iligan City is 30% flat lands, with the rest being forested mountains.
The rivers began to swell in the early morning when people were still asleep. It happened so fast the floods just came in to an island that is known as the bread basket of the Philippines – an area that normally does not get affected by tropical typhoons.
Iligan must be declared in a state of calamity, together with the other cities and provinces affected.
Lessons must likewise be learned from this calamity.
For one, Mindanao is no longer immune to typhoons like it used to be.
Del Monte and Dole, which have large plantations planted to banana and pineapple have managed their plantations since the early part of the century.
Their sites were chosen due to the rich top soil and the fact that said sites were not in the path of typhoons.
It was the land of plenty and promise.
That was long ago when the forest was filled with deer.
But, all that has changed with the massive influx of immigrants to the land of plenty.
Logging and mining have ruined this pristine land, home of the famed Philippine Eagle.
Mindanao has been ecologically damaged as its forests have been cut and logging goes on unabated.
Uncontrolled development is rampant in the land of plenty. That alone and biodiversity loss have killed the land of promise – home of Mt. Apo (our tallest peak), the famed Monkey Eating Eagle and Lake Maranao in Marawi City.
So rich was this land.
With the advent of global warming and climate change, the weather patterns show no signs of following historical patterns, making it difficult to forecast.
They have veered north and south, east and west. Typhoons hit us with more intensity as far south as Mindanao in the month of December.
This shows us all that no one is exempt from the effects of climate change. No agreement in Durban means business as usual.
The earth cannot afford to wait for binding agreements – they may never come. And if they do, it will be too little and too late.
Let us help our people in Iligan and Mindanao. Let us help the victims and the impacted.
But, more than that let us learn from this and protect our environment:
· Stop all logging and reforest.
· Stop mining and protect our watersheds.
· Plant and keep on planting trees.
· Slow down Carbon footprints and follow the lead of Germany to stop nuclear power and go to wind and solar to power the country.
The planet cannot wait. She is dying.
Let us all do it on our own and show the UNFCCC that the people still rule and have spoken.
For our planet
The most pressing environment problem that-threatens the world today, Climate Change, was the key topic at the 2011 Green Campus Global Forum held in Seoul, South Korea, last November 24.
DAEJAYON, a South Korea-based International Association of University Students for Environmental Movement and member of IUCN, sponsored this very significant forum.
The speakers included Byong-Jin You, the President of MYONGJI University; Joo Pilju Kim, the Chairperson of AGGLOBE SERVICES; Khong Sam Nuon, the Minister of Enviroment of Cambodia; Kim Young-gab, President of DAEJAYON; Ock-Hyen Kim, Director of DAEJAYON, and myself.
I joined these notables as they spoke about the destruction of the environment in most countries – from the droughts in Africa to the typhoons and floods in Asia, the increase in poverty and the destruction of biodiversity, forests and oceans.
No part of the world has been exempted from the effects of Climate Change.
I was particularly touched by the way the students reacted to the pressing problem of Climate Change, their dedication and commitment to mitigate and solve this problem to have a better and healthier environment for future generations.
A glimmer of hope seemed to appear in the horizon as they spoke about ways and means to abate the problem. This was the message sent as the Durban Climate Change Conference begins at the end of this month.
Their message is loud and clear: reduce Green House Gases (GHG) and restore CO2 levels to 350 ppm needed to sustain life in our planet.
As the conference continued, we heard Thomas Schroder of Germany speak about Germany’s move to phase out Nuclear Power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear leak in Japan caused by the earth-quake and Tsunami the struck earlier during the year.
I was happy to note that Germany will be relying mostly on Solar, Wind, Hydro and Biomass energy to replace dependency on Nuclear Power. He mentioned the global demand for energy is 16 terawatts and will increase to 30 Terawatts by 2050; that the use of Solar power has increased tenfold and that it will further go up as the cost of photovoltaic’s goes down due to technology; and that Solar power has gone up by 17 Giga watts per year.
Another glimmer of hope was presented by Chun Sung-Oh of Wooram Engineering Company, about the mastery of the wastewater treatment system called Bioremediation, which cleans and filters water used in toilets. The 50 million Koreans who flush their toilets 3 times a day consume more than 6 billion cubic meters of water, a finite and threatened resource.
These three issues alone have given us a glimmer of hope – the dedication of the students, the rise of renewable energy particularly Solar and Wind, and the way to conserve water.
As the conference ended, a resounding message was sent out loud and clear to the Durban Climate Change Conference: Reduce GHG and save our one and only planet.
Remember the BP oil spill last year in the Gulf of Mexico and the consequential damage done to the marine environment? Such costs become small when compared with the costs of natural calamities that have plagued the planet.
The Global Insurance Industry has suffered record claims due to a wave of natural disasters, including the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan and flooding in Australia and Thailand.
Property damage is a simple element of the resultant claims but destruction’s impact on the people and the planet is immeasurable.
The more complex claims from businesses occur because calamities wreak havoc on companies’ supply chain.
Just last month, Mazda, Toyota and Toshiba joined the list of over a thousand companies suspending production at factories in Thailand due to the flooding.
On the other hand, there have been clusters of very large shocks on the so called “ring of fire” around the Pacific Ocean” including Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Chile and Haiti. Our own country has not been spared.
A major earthquake is expected to hit San Francisco in the next 30 years.
All these calamities will impact on the people and the planet inasmuch as we are no longer prepared to abate pressures. Our Natural capital which serves as a buffer is disappearing.
Our economies are in shambles and our ecology is off balance. Something will have to give soon.
In the book by Alejandro Nadal, “Rethinking Macroeconomics for Sustainability” he mentions that the World Bank indicators in 2005 state that there are more than 3 billion people living below the poverty level of 2.5 U.S. dollars a day and more than 5 billion people living with incomes equivalent or inferior to 10 U.S. dollars a day.
The European Commission revealed last October that it wanted to extend the Environmental Liability Directives (ELD) from covering land and share, to all marine waters under its jurisdiction.
With this, the ELD formalizes the “poplluter pays regime” - - that those guilty of environmental damage must not only clean up the mess, but also restore wildlife and its habitats to its prior state.
Although this applies to insurance, it is a fact that it is recognized and must be implemented to abate any further environmental degradation.
After all, nature is our companion and friend.
What is often remembered in Incheon, South Korea, is the daring landing of Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur during the Korean conflict. Today, Incheon has been transformed from a rich marshland into what they call a “smart city,” with towering buildings and wide thoroughfares with bike and pedestrian lanes. The Land of the Morning Calm has come a long way, although I am not sure if the good general would have appreciated its transpormation.
Incheon recently hosted the fifth IUCN Regional Conservation Forum, with the theme of “Greening Asia’s Growth,” in preparation for the World Congress to be held on Jeju Island in September 2012.
The event was attended by more than 570 participants from 18 countries – the largest Conservation Forum yet. It was opened by Julia Marton-Lefvere and Dr. Ashok Koshla, the director general and president, respectively, of IUCN (or the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which helps in the formulation of pragmatic solutions to the world’s most urgent problems concerning the environment and development).
Later we flew to Busan, South Korea’s third largest city, and we could not help but notice how the mountains had retained their forest cover.
Everything was lush and green. Development has mainly been focused on reclamation and urban areas.
So rich yet so poor
Asia is home to the most biodiverse hotspots in the world. Ironically, it is a region so rich yet so poor, so large yet so small, so powerfull yet so weak.
We are home to the most than 60 percent of the world’s population, which translates to more than a billion people. Although culturally diverse, we must unite to protect ourselves from the pressure of the world, especially climate change, as it is considered the most urgent threat to our planet.
As the Conservation Forum was going on in Incheon, Typhoon “Pedring” was ravaging the Philippines, and also Vietnam, Cambodia and China. It is a phenomenon that will be repeated again and again, with increasing force and severity.
On the other hand, Europe and the United States are enduring the hottest autumn ever. Earths temperature has warmed by more than 1 percent; it will continue to accelerate until we effectively mitigate greenhouse gases. (I was surprised at how the forum delegates, including those from the Philippines, spoke and negotiated about climate change funding for adaptation with very little emphasis on mitigation.)
As the participants went on with their deliberations, it became evident that nature conservation based on natural law had been put on the back burner, with the world economy continuing its downward swing and funding for conservation becoming more scarce.
Meanwhile, the rate of extinction of various species and the loss of biodiversity have risen, Earth’s ecosystems are degraded, and mining and extraction industries intensify as the appetite for growth exponentially increases and the “business as usual” attitude continues to reigh.
New plan needed
I am afraid of what the future has in store for us with the present development model. It is time for a new plan to surface, the ecology playing a major role vis-à-vis economics.
Real “green growth” is a must. It’s time to do away with the politics of destruction and narrow economics. We need to pay more attention to social and ecological systems and reclaim the commons from transnational corporations.
But we enjoyed our visit to South Korea, with its rich culture and hardworking people. I will treasure the good memories and look forward to returning to the country next year for the conference on Jeju Island. We were happy to attend the youth forum, where the children from Daejayon showed how they play a vital role in conservation. Indeed, it is time to pass the torch.
As I write this in Boston, Massachusetts, where I am visiting, a snowstorm has hit the Northeastern United States. Winter has overtaken the fall in October!
Millions of Americans are affected, with power lines down and transportation crippled. It’s too early in the year, but a blanket of white is covering the entire northeast.
Truly, Nature can paralyze the most powerful countries in the world. But then again the effects of climate change has no boundaries.
As the unexpected snow falls here, Bangkok on the other side of the planet is still underwater, and in Africa a shortage of water looms.
This is the world today. It is clear by now that the planet cannot sustain the present development mode. The state of the world’s ecology and economics is testament to this.
Countries are facing tough and stringent austerity measures imposed on them by their governments through the International Monetary Fund. How long will this last? Why should they suffer for something over which they have no control and for which they are not at fault? I see many more Arab Spring movements on the horizon, as well as major climatic disturbances. With the many pressures the planet has to face, the continued pollution of carbon dioxide escalates from not only the development model but also the world population of 7 billion. These pressures will bear heavily on the planet its ecosystems-and all of us will suffer.
Why has there been no clear road map on the reduction of greenhouse gases? Why do mining and extraction go on unabated despite a slowdown in the economy? Why does the price of gold show no sighns of stabilizing? These are questions that need to be answered.
Traditionally, the price of gold will rise if the currencies are uncertain, and they are. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has not produced a protocol that will reduce greenhouse gases because it is controlled by transnational corporations that will not sacrifice their bottom line.
Mining and extraction are subsidiaries of transnational businesses and will follow the bottom line. It is the business-as-usual attitude that prevails and will kill the planet’s ecology and the world’s economy.
As I write this the country is reeling from the effects of three typhoons that have wreaked havoc, destroyed communities, flooded cities, killed many and affected thousands of people.
At the same time, our Southeast Asian neighbors have suffered the same fate: Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia have reported similar diasters.
The irony is so palpable: so much water yet there is acute lack of potable water.
We cannot allow this to happen incessantly. We need to solve the root problems ourselves both local and globally.
We need to reforest and protect and enhance our watersheds and mountains. We need to plant millions of trees and empower the people and communities to protect the forest.
Forest, like oceans, are commons; they belong to everyone. They are both carbon sinks and the planet’s lungs.
On the global arena, we need our voice to be heard in order to solve the problem of climate change at its root -- to actually reduce Green House Gases and not just settle for adaptation funding, REDD+ and other Clean Development Mechanisms.
We can adapt by having adequate forest cover, clean water and responsible land use management.
Plus, we need to grow organic food sources and preserve the richness of biodiversity and agricultural lands. We need to mitigate Green to effectively sustain life.
Should we not heed the voices of the many who know and have been impacted, how many more people must die and how much biodiversity should be lost?
We will be faced with a disaster unlike anything we’ve ever experienced: the scarcity of food, increased poverty and conflicts for resources. Change and a new development model is what is needed.
Let us protect and conserve our environment. Let us win the battle for the planet.
The recent typhoons that wrought havoc on our beautiful country are testament enough that global warming and climate change know no boundaries.
The typhoons caused death and destruction, flooded towns and cities, damaged agricultural lands, degraded vital ecosystems and endangered more species, and ultimately displaced people and robbed them of livelihoods.
By now we should know: No amount of adaptation can replace a life, restore an ecosystem, or repair a forest.
How can the government help the people affected? How can the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change assist in bringing back the lives lost and the communities devastated?
Is there any way to stop the record heat that has plagued Europe or the fires that flared in the United States?
No amount of adaptation funding can undo the damage. Yet we allow full-scale operations in mining and extraction that will benefit, certainly not the planet, but only a few.
The collapse of the economic order shows that the old development model has only succeeded in destroying our ecology and natural capital and increasing poverty.
The United States has over 46 million people under the poverty line and over 14 million people without jobs. Europe is on the verge of collapse as Greece, Italy and Spain, among other countries, face austerity measure that will cause their citizens to suffer. How long will they last?
The “Arab Spring” has affected North Africa and is expected to spread further. China has reported a bubble in the property sector. Inflation has reached record highs in India, China and the rest of the world economy.
Have we not learned from the past? Form Easter Island and the empires that became extinct due to ecological imbalances? We need to act now and tell our leaders to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gases, to stop REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and the trading of carbon.
We need to restore the world’s ecosystems. We need to protect our air and water, our forests, seas and biodiversity, to ensure food for us and the future generations.
It cannot be overstated: A healthy environment ensures good economics.
We need to change our thinking. We need to stop mining and extraction and start protection our natural capital. We need to stop crimes against nature and the planet.
We need a new development model that is ecologically based- or else.
AS I write this, many parts of our country are being battered by a series of typhoons. The effects of Typhoons Pedring and Quiel are still being felt by many communities and I am afraid similar occurrences will continue, possibly becoming more severe as the years go by.
How many more will die? How many more millions of people will be effected before both the country and world realize that adaptations is not enough?
Yes, we need to adapt and plant more mangroves to protect our forest. We need to stop mining before it completely destroys our mountains. Our people have suffered enough. We have been used to typhoons in the past and have managed to survive with the assistance of our rich environment. Our forests have shielded us from strong rains and winds and protected our top soil from flash floods and erosion. Our mangrove swamps and coral reefs safeguarded us from tidal waves yet provided us with food and livelihood.
Ironically as I write this, the Conference of Parties (COP) in the UNFCCC are meeting in Durban, South Africa, to discuss solutions against climate change. However, they are so focused on adaptation funding and carbon trading mechanisms, options that in my view will not solve the root cause of global warming. Money has taken over the discussions and negotiations in the conference. They are not in any way helping the global situation. The main cause of global warming is Green house Gases, thus its reduction is paramount. It is as simple as that. Failure to do so will entail more severe typhoons and eventually, an ecological disaster.
It is time to consider that crimes against nature are contributing to this weak ecological state. We need to get away from oil and go full blast on renewable energy.
We need to protect our selves by protecting our forests and consider heavy reforestation. We need to put a moratorium on mining and extraction and start thinking that this is for our benefit.
I am sick of narrow economics and politics of destruction. It is time to give more attention to our social and ecological systems and reclaim the commons.
More than that, we need to make our voices heard loud and clear: mitigate Greenhouse Gases and stop the ecological time bomb That is our message to the UNFCCC.
AS I write this, the unrest in parts of Britain and in Syria, not to speak of Libya, has become critical.
Earlier this year, countries in Africa and the Middle East had their share of riots and changes in government. Not to mention the austerity measures being imposed by countries such as Greece and Spain and other countries that have experienced fiscal deficits.
The global arena is connected not only by the air that we breathe and the water that we drink as well as the biodiversity that keeps us alive, but by the economic model that has moved countries to near collapse.
In the past, foreign policy was mainly adjusting relations between states. Today, foreign policy is adjusting the domestic policies of different states and what they will do with their own people.
The simple arguments is significant as the periods for survival, amid the looming shortages in food and water, are nearly at hand.
With the devastating effects of climate change and the continued destruction of our biodiversity, there will come a time that the foreign policies will be measured by the power to wage war as the battle for vital resources nears. This is a fear that already has materialized in many countries.
According to a recent report by the Mckinsey Global Institute, since 1990 global foreign investment assets have increased by nearly 1,000 percent to nearly $96,000 billion.
With this kind of increase one wonders what and where the funds are and why the global economy is in such a mess?
We simply have been operating with debts that have piled too high. There are remedies to a global economic slowdown. The adjustment of consumption and production patterns will seek its level. Like the old bushmen used to do while hunting, they kill what they need to eat. Compare that to the production and economic model of today which continues to advocate business as usual, but at a faster rate.
We subsist in a planet where all ecosystems are connected and intertwined to harbor species and sustain life.
However, we have totally disregarded the planet’s state as she is dying, manifesting her state clearly through;
· droughts, typhoons and strange weather patterns;
· with food and water shortages;
· with expanding deserts.
This is the real problem: how do we make sure that our civilization and planet survive the ecological time bomb?
AS the planet braces for more weather disturbances - - Hurricane Irene and Typhoon Mina come to mind - - the economy continues its fall as the Federal Reserve is expected to announce another round of stimulus spending to aid the ailing global economy. Both ecology and economy are facing troubled times as the planet continues to absorb many pressures.
In ancient Greece, both Ecology and the Economics had been managed. The two go hand in hand. In Bhutan, they use the Gross National Happiness (GNH) indicator instead of the western Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
I have always found this interesting as Happiness is a real indicator that comprises both the Ecology and Economics. Recently, the Bhutanese introduced a resolution in the United Nations in this regard. How I wish the resolution is adopted and practiced. With an indicator like this, we will be able to manage the world’s problems better.
Both Ecology and Economics go hand in hand in sustainable development. Failure to address the concerns of one will affect the other. And yet, business concerns are extracting minerals from the Earth at a rate never experienced before. There seems to be no stopping the miners as the prices of metals continue to grow, given the appetite of China and similar states.
It seems our planet and people will be saddled with harder times as the effects of climate change continue to ravage our
land. The typhoons and the drought swings will get worse.
How many more of these seasons can we take? No amount of adaptation payments can compensate for all that will be lost.
What makes things worse is that there appears to be no solution to climate change. There will be no reductions to greenhouse gas emissions as countries and corporations continue to pollute the Earth with their carbon footprint.
What is even worse is that the IPCC is even entertaining geo-engineering as a solution to the warming of the planet.
We should oppose these solutions put forth and reduce green house gas emissions.
Because the planet cannot sustain the present development model.
Already there are food shortages in Africa, the Middle east and all over the world causing riots and political instability. The price of food has soured more than 35% percent and more in other parts of the world. The supply of food may not be able to meet the demand of the increasing population.
As I write this the riots in London seem to escalates and this is true in other parts of the world. The present development model cannot be sustained. This has been echoed time and again by many quarters including the United Nations. Yet there seems to be the business as usual attitude and the status quo prevailing as corporations go full scale to extract minerals and destroy our rich and pristine biodiversity. The situation in the United States has reached a historical era for the most powerful economic in the world to be downgraded is testament that the economic model is flawed. It is time for the US and all economies to slow down the development and extractions and concentrate on the welfare of the people and the planet.
The time for peak food and water are at hand and we need to face the fact that it will get worse. We need to prepare and mitigate the looming food shortage and prevent the clashes and battles for resources. This is happening today and will accelerate further.
While the world leaders are preparing for the next round of climate changes negotiations as well as the Rio+ 20 meeting next year it may be prudent for the parties to insist on reducing GHG in the atmosphere and not just follow the carrot and stick leadership in the conference. It is time to take stock and action on how to save our dying planet and starving people
Poverty will get worse and the planets biodiversity will not be able to sustain the population for long. We need to make conservation a priority for the planet and civilization to survive. Should we fail we will see more riots, civil disobedience and a planet that will be turn into a wasteland soon.
We call on the leaders to re-examine their priorities. There can be no economic stability without a healthy ecology.
hrough the years, our planet has been logged and mined. In the last 50 years, we have stripped our resources to the edge.
Our forests continue to be logged and our mountains mined. The ecological balance is in danger of exploding. And the damage may be permanent.
This summer has been a clear testament that climate change and all its manifestations are upon us. The heat is unbearable. Our agriculture is burnt by the scourging heat. Our rivers have run dry and yes the planet is sizzling. If it were to affect humans of which it has especially the old, sickly and the young, then what more the smallest cell-like species that are very fragile and vulnerable More species have gone extinct. Amphibians are one of the first to be affected and many more species have gone extinct.
The World Bank has announced funding for the Philippines to adapt to climate-related catastrophes and calamities. Just like Typhoon Ondoy and similar disasters. There will no doubt be more fierce and ravaging typhoons and calamities. Look at the record howlers and tornados in the United States and the floods in China and the heat in parts of Asia.
The World Bank should take the lead to abate and mitigate the problems caused by climate change.
The price of food has reached record highs. It will continue to climb as commodities have become basic to survival and the global supplies of rice and corn will not be able to meet the human demand. The ethanol industry has cornered 40 percent of all U.S. corn.
One cannot stop food to flow to human needs in favor of automotive luxury
The economic decisions have been so narrow as they continue to develop at a faster pace in the light of peak of oil and food.
I am worried that the time for peak food and oil are near and their consequences are disastrous.
Our world leaders must address the real problems causing climate change and not just go into the best carbon development mechanism and trade.
Let us reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the planet to 350 ppm needed to sustain life.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols-President ESP) Tonight March 2, 2011
I HAD been monitoring closely the many sectors clamoring for adaptation measures to confront the severe effects of climate change all over the world.
The adaptation strategy appeared to have high hopes in climate financing mechanisms, such as REDD+ and all CDM-Carbon Development Mechanisms, giving them the much needed funding for adapting to climate change related calamities.
They all had focused on adaptation. There, they were rushings like a mad crowd that had seen nothing but the glitter of gold.
However, what appeared to be a good idea for many unfortunately ma have ended, causing more climate related sufferings for the people and the planet.
It appeared everyone forgot the real problem: global greenhouse gas emissions, with the CO2 content going up by over 2-3 degrees Celsius, giving Planet Earth a not expected change in the weather.
Floods rampaged in Australia even as the cold front ravaged our south in the early months of January. Now we have no summer. We have strange typhoons of many magnitudes that may soon be hittings us.
God forbid: as I write this, the Earth is suffering, yet no one really heeds her call for help. Pollution goes on unabated.
There will be food shortages. China's humongous appetite for food is increasing and the droughts that plagued her persist, forcing her to import rice and all.
There are other countries rushing in for food supplies.
But the world's supplies of sugar, soy and wheat are radically short as investors have been using them for bio-fuels to feed vehicles.
The increasing human population has been neglected. Poverty and food shortages are the real threats as populations starves and social unrest nears.
This is what the climate change trap is all about -- it gives funding to the willing to sell their forests and convert them into plantations, thereby reducing the carbon sinks and all the biodiversity that we are desire.
We don't need anymore the politics of destruction and norrow economics. We need to protect our social and ecological systems. Like our forests and seas.
Let us protect our natural forests and not trade them for funds to adapt. Otherwise, we will rudely face a situation where our planet heats up and all life is gone.
Let us bring CO2 back to 350 ppm to sustain life on Earth.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols-President ESP) Philippine Daily Inquirer 02/20/2011
(By: Antonio M. Claparols-President ESP) Tonight January 19, 2011
As I write this, Australia and its people are victims of the worst flooding ever in the last 30 years. Here, in our country, we ourselves are not spared from nature’s fury, with Albay and parts of the Visayas and Mindanao underwater and the damage done to the people and their communities regarded as very significant.
Conditions are certainly not well; no reason to be nonchalant.
The Earth is dying and we all must do our part.
There are times when we cannot wait for foreign help or funding. It does not take much time nor cost to plant a tree. Should we wait and act only when we are all overwhelmed?
Plans are being made for a conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, billed as “Sharing Power” – appropriately nomenclatured because our present economic model is unsustainable.
The conference is scheduled this January.
The conference sponsored by IUCN-CEESP and others is expected to address the current problems on how to save the Earth and our civilizations. The conference will include Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Peace laureate, and many other world personalities.
We are honored to be one of the co-sponsors and look forward to a meaningful declaration that we anticipate we can share with the world.
In the meantime, the weather continues to deteriorate. Even as all roads lead to Whakatene.
(By: Antonio M. Claparols-President ESP) Tonight January 5, 2011
The conference in Cancun, Mexico of countries significantly influencing the management of climate change is now over and, as expected, no binding agreements were made.
The parties to the convention have been negotiating for years and yet they haven’t even come up with an agreement that would help our planet survive.
They were not allowed to make their case that:
*Calamities will become more severe than ever before.
It has been a long fight for us all to convince the parties of the convention that we desperately need to reduce CHG.
*They are going full blast in uncontrolled development;
The entire world is asking: Why can’t we really combat climate change?
With all the conferences and negotiations.
With all the calamities, droughts, floods and a looming ecological crisis that will show no mercy.
It is time to walk the talk.
By: Antonio M. Claparols
The COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico is now over and as expected nothing
was done. No binding agreements were made for us to combat
climate change. The parties to the convention have been
negotiating for years and yet they
can't even come up with an agreement that will help our planet
It is business as usual as far as the conference is concerned.In
fact this COP 16 was marred by protest from civil society all
They were not
allowed to make there case that our planet is not for sale. That
our planet and people will continue to suffer. That calamities
will come more severe than ever before.
It has been a long fight for us all to
convince the parties of the convention that we desperately need
to reduce GHG and yet all they did was make a pledge when in
fact they are going full blast in uncontrolled development.
They are going full blast in extraction of our resources. They
are fast tracking mining and logging our forest. What will be
left for the next generation.
Don't they know that oil is a finite resource. Of course they
do. But yet they continue to drill and use up all the oil. Why
don't they think of the future.
The oil that we have left is not going to last forever. Our
children's children will need it too.
In the meantime we can develop new and clean renewable energy.
And put electric cars on the road. They have it in the drawing
boards. Why don't they begin to develop them.
As I write this Europe is plagued with the strongest snow storm
ever and it is only early December. The snow has put the entire
continent in hold and has damaged many countries and
The entire South America is underwater with record floods.
Displacing people and destroying livelihoods.
The US is under record snow and sleet and yes no one is spared.
In our country we are suffering from heat, rain and
unpredictable weather. We have only began to harvest our
sugarcane. Late us we are all the planters are suffering and
praying for good weather.
The price of sugar has reached all time
highs as sugar is made into bio-ethanol to feed cars and compete
with feeding our people.
There will be a food shortage as all the agricultural produce of
all the countries will decline. And they will not export their
produce as they need it for their people. Our water resources
are drying up and our biodiversity continues to be aped.
I cannot understand why our leaders don't look ahead and bite
the bullet. Why can't they simply reduce GHG and put back CO2 to
350ppm needed to sustain life.
Why? The entire world is asking? Why can't we really combat
climate change. With all the conferences and negotiations. With
all the calamities, droughts, floods and a looming ecological
crisis that will show no mercy.
Surely they all heard the protest saying that "Our planet is not
It is time to walk their talk.
And protect mother earth.
RETURNING TO Boston is like going home, and my love for it has only grown stronger with the passing of time. I went to college in this great city that has captivated many, including Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran, who made it his home.
In the fall, Boston’s landscape is one of the most beautiful on earth—the trees turning into rainbow colors brighter than the sun, with brilliant shades of red, brown and yellow.
But this season is now called Fall Fury, as hurricane after hurricane has been visiting and ravaging the Atlantic seaboard. And the Midwest has experienced the most severe tornadoes in years, as well as storms bringing snow and sleet, causing much damage and destruction.
The effects of global warming are being felt in Boston and many other parts of the continental United States.
At the same time, typhoons are ravaging the tropics just when the COP 10 negotiations in Nagoya have concluded without concrete binding agreements on how to halt biodiversity loss and mitigate climate change.
How many more storms are needed for governments to realize that the planet’s weather system has been radically altered by humankind’s greed, wasteful consumption, polluting practices, and business-as-usual attitude?
But strolling by the banks of Boston’s Charles River is good for recharging one’s energies. The river mesmerizes with its natural beauty and cleanliness. Watching the boats and the students jogging along its banks helps one shed away stresses and cares.
Indeed, there is something rejuvenating about Charles River, the city of Boston and its people that makes one appreciate life.
We can’t allow climate change to destroy Boston and all its charms. In this brief and beautiful homecoming, we must find in Boston the strength and the resolve to protect the planet.
The author is the president of the Ecological Society of the Philippines.
OUR PLANET IS NOT FOR SALE
By: Antonio M. Claparols
As I write this the COP 10 delegations are negotiation for a binding agreement that will hopefully save our planet from an ecological disaster.
The cry in Nagoya is that our planet is not for sale as civil society and NGOs wage their campaign to convince the delegations that a binding agreement must be reached.
What is needed is to stop biodiversity loss and not just reduce it for nothing has been done since the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002.
In fact biodiversity loss has increased dramatically since and still the business as usual attitude prevails despite all the calamities that has befallen the earth.
The cry in Nagoya is that the conference may end up to be a Copenhagen biodiversity conference were nothing concrete will be coined in an agreement.
We join our many friends in Nagoya who are lobbying strongly for a possitive outcome to the negotiations.
We join them in asking for a halt in biodiversity loss, a halt to habitat loss and ecosystem destruction.
We join them in not going for genetically modified trees for reforestation and for geo-engineering.
The earth has suffered enough and many countries have seen the disasters that go with the loss of biodiversity and climate change.
deseases,crop failure and the melting of the ice caps.
Many lives have been lost and livelihoods destroyed as nature is trying to send us a message.
That she has had enough destruction and may no longer be able to sustain life on earth.
We must heed the call of Mother nature and put a stop to destructive and polluted ways.
A time will come that the struggle for vital natural resources will escalate. Already this is a reality and must be addressed.
The Nagoya delegations still have the time to play a critical role in history and replenish the earth to save her from an ecological disaster that we have never seen before.
The time for talking an putting value to ecosystems and commodifying our air, Water and ecosystems just to trade them for carbon offsets must strop.
We cannot afford to wait until the last tree to stand before we realize that the earth is indeed in danger.
We must act with resolve to protect our planet and yes Our planet is not for sale.
As I write this the many negotiations that have happened on climate change have been locked up and bracketed.
There seems that there is no real solution and goals set up. REDD plus and carbon trading are still in the agenda.
What is worse is that climate change funding has come to a halt as the pledges seem to have vanished in the air.
The little that has been allocated will be going to the World Bank for Distribution on adaptation and mitigation.
How in heavens name will the poor and impacted countries fair. The onslaught of climate change will be worse as the the planet heats up.
Already our biodiversity has not met the goals set forth in 2002. The CBD-Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya will be the litmus test for the future of the planet.
Many are expecting nothing concrete.
Yet biodiversity is life it sustains us all. Without biodiversity we will have nothing to talk and negotiate about. Habitat loss has increased and our food, water and air continue to be be polluted and destroyed.
It seems that business as usual has gone to a faster pace and the destruction of our planet accelerates.
Drought,floods,desease,famine and a war for natural resources and food may not be far away.
With over 2 billion people living with less then $1 a day.
The entire world is suffering and many have put there hopes on Nagoya.