Face-Off with the Fates

The tell-tale signs are all over the place, here and there.

Just recently, another temblor hit Japan, merely a five-hour flight from the Philippines, once more catching its populace to teeter on tenterhooks. Disciplined by past disasters, the locals merely shook off the 6.5 magnitude shaker. Damaged roads got repaired overnight. Life simply went back to normal for most.

Even as this is written up, another brewing storm hovers in our territorial limits, what our weathermen have been calling as PAR. Habagat remains a weather disturbance, always on a northernly course, whipping up more rains and pouring these on areas along the way. Flooding recurs in a matter of minutes. Mountain soil loosens up and cascades in deadly descent.

Again, it’s all about Mother Nature’s extreme behavior, and what we’ve been all taking for granted all these years. It’s all about climate change and how it has heated up the world’s temperature, enough to make oceans act the way the tides heave, spawning typhoons, storms, hurricanes.

As an archipelagic country situated along the geologically volatile Pacific Rim of Fire, it is no wonder that we are high up in the global rankings as the 4th country to be most vulnerable to natural aberrations. Climate change has pushed us into the global stage, thanks to what Ondoy in 2009, Sendong in 2011, Pablo in 2012, and Yolanda in 2013 have done to our vulnerable communities. All these weather extremities tolled up over 9,000 dead bodies, affected almost 7 million Filipinos, and inflicted damage of over P160 billion in infrastructure and properties.

Why has Mother Nature been acting this way, and not that way as it used to be? How did all these climate extremes come about in recent years? Why the sudden natural misbehavior, storms becoming super events, quakes getting stronger?

It is simply Climate Change and as scientists the world over have been warning us, it is Mother Earth’s punitive ways for all that Mankind has done to her since way, way back. It is the planetary condition that has evolved from nearly 4 centuries of toxic bombardment into its atmosphere, a relentless assault generated by carbon-producing human activities.

Yes, our own folly has turned deadlier throughout much of the recent centuries. We’ve been abusing our fragile environment, wreaking havoc on our precious ecosystem, and ignored basic tell-tale signs of the planet’s deterioration, of its developing inability to serve as our lifeline into the future. The fact is, according to savants themselves, by 2047, the earth’s surface temperature would have drastically altered, enough to spark mankind’s own ill-fated annihilation and extinction. Read again, year 2047, a mere 29 years away!

Climate change implores us to abandon our wanton ways towards a more responsible stewardship of our planetary home. Are we doing that? Are we bringing down the level of massive pollution now afflicting the world? Have we been reducing strategically the greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere? Have we scaled down our reliance on coal-fueled activities and veered our lifestyle into cleaner alternative energy sources?

Have the world’s leading polluters that the United States and China have become been in fact taking the lead to do just that, to balance off what these countries have been recklessly doing without regard to the monumental mistakes committed in the name of economic might?

By ourselves, we must fundamentally accept a change in the way we live, rather than doing things the way we used to. This simply means contributing a significant share in reducing activities that generate toxic gases into the atmosphere. This simply means embracing as an article of faith a shared effort in the global responsibility to hand over to the next generation a planetary home worth living in. This means scaling down by our disciplined activities all the greenhouse gas emissions that have been part of our day-to-day life, from the motor engines we rev up to the machine industries we hum to the aging trees we topple down in reckless abandon.

Three years ago, a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed us a clear enough roadmap of what we should be doing to slow down, not to stop, global emissions from human activities. Accordingly, the world’s toxicity had risen much too high than in previous decades, enough for the red flags to be hoisted all over the planet. Accordingly, the lethal concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have all shown large increases since the age of industrial revolution in 1750. The biggest increase took place between 2000 and 2010 (just over a decade and a half ago), generated from the energy sector (47%), industry (30%), transport (11%) and building (4%).

We don’t have to wait for the scalding times to heat us all up. We’ve been on face-off with a fated destiny. Clearly, time’s up.

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