FIFTEEN DAYS to go and we bid farewell to a year that was, horrendous and horrifying to many who found themselves amid Irma, Jose, and all the other super-hurricanes that hit familiar places this year and left a wide swath devastation never before experienced anywhere else. Luck of luck, we have been spared that kind of a wrath that brought peoples of all ages and class distinctions to their knees, that even now has left local governments on tenterhooks just looking at where to begin the painful, methodical, but quickest way to recover and be up again on their feet.
What has caught us up instead is another extremism that has terrified our leaders to feel fearful, anxious, and on edge, given the face-to-face reality staring them, enough to place an entire Philippine island on the grip of martial rule for another year. Fact is, we can only wish that the extremism we’re seeing swirling all over this dear planet of ours, courtesy of the changing climes, would also give our own leaders everywhere else the same aggressive stance in meeting Mother Nature’s extreme weather behavior, something too important but scantily taken for granted all these years.
Guess what, in a year-end look-over of Google, the most searched about topic worldwide is Hurricane Irma, ahead of smart phone inquiries and celebrity happenings. That only means global attention has been focused on extreme weather events. Yet, right here and now, Filipinos have largely been engrossed more on song lyrics (Despacito) and pageant events (Miss Universe, etc.) than on environmental afflictions that have gripped people elsewhere. Sad and saddening.
Evidently, we’re more easily attuned to things and people that ignite our prurient sense, than on issues that should be harnessing our collective attention. Nature has already been on fight-back mood in recent years. When it’s hot, it’s very hot and deadly; on rainy days, floods recur in a matter of minutes, inundating everything on its lethal path. In many parts of the world, erratic weather patterns have been recurring, causing subtropical deserts to expand and arctic glaciers to melt. Sea temperatures have been quickly on the rise, causing last year to record the hottest in nearly a century.
Climate change has long been here and now, has long been the new normal. Yet, we seem not concerned about it, that we even have not applied for a share of the Climate Change Fund that the Paris agreement has forged as assistance to countries deemed to be among the most vulnerable. That’s about 300 million USD that has been there for us to avail, but to no avail. The good news is it’s there for us to use. The bad news is we haven’t figured out till now which government office should be entrusted as funding source for stricken communities.
Meantime, all that we residents of our dear beloved city of Baguio can do is grin and bear it till kingdom come. In recent years, at the slightest downpour, the mountain soil loosens up. Estero banks get whiplashed, triggering floods all over. Meantime, we’re going nuts over traffic jams, we go bananas over a giant umbrella passed on as a creative Christmas décor atop Session Road goes up in flames, with no one made to account for the arsenic tantrum. That speaks volume about how we go about city life, how we act with seeming impunity on things we find disagreeable.
At the end of the day, the end of days will come swiftly than expected, if we don’t change our wicked ways, if we don’t pay heed to the monumental issues that govern life in this only planetary home we have, if we don’t regard the environment as something sacred to value and cherish for generations next, if we don’t adapt to nature’s way in the only right way we can. That means walking the extra mile, physically and figuratively. That means de-carbonizing our life styles, to give Mother Nature the respite it needs from all the polluting gas emissions we’ve been irresponsibly ejecting into the atmosphere.
Governments may have a Paris accord to guide their ways. Leaders may demonstrate resolve in ensuring that nations will abide by iron-clad agreements. But, in the end, it is people — yes, you and I and the rest of all us — who must do its share, who must singly and collectively do something concrete and positive, something that can be done by sheer will power and determination, something that gives Planet Earth enough time to recuperate from the centuries-old wounds we have ourselves inflicted without remorse, without letup.
It is time to scream hard and long into our faces ENOUGH IS ENOUGH