The rapid increase in population in urban centers like Baguio City has its own disadvantages and advantages that warrant appropriate interventions from concerned government agencies and the involved local governments. Urban areas attract the migration of people from the remote villages for various reasons. These may be the desire for better education, guaranteed employment, sources of livelihood and improvement in the living condition, most especially the desire to get out of poverty situations. The influx of investments in urban centers like the city provides the demand for human resources which migrants fill up. All these subsequently results to overcrowding and over-development that for Baguio City now, is taking its toll on our environment.
The sustained increase in the population of urban centers allows prospective employers to select the best work force, provide additional sources of income to the government from direct and indirect taxes, provide alternative means of sustaining growth and development through the investments infused by individuals and corporations. However, we also face the disadvantages of over population: water, air, land, and noise pollution; disruption of peace and order, increase in unemployment, squatting, inadequate water supply, destruction of the environment, among others.
Pollution, in general, is considered as the most serious problem arising from over population because the damages inflicted on the environment could take its toll on the people, especially during the occurrence of natural disasters and emergency situations. Aside from the hazards posed by water, air and land pollution to the safety of life and limb, people’s health is also compromised.
The global impact of pollution in general to the people and the environment is climate change. The weather condition in our places have become unpredictable and the strength of natural calamities has become stronger. Imagine the damage left behind by Supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas in 2013 and the damage inflicted by Supertyphoon Lawin that ravaged most parts of Northern Luzon just last year. The magnitude of the weather disturbances like typhoons, earthquakes, flashfloods, and landslides has caught us by surprise because remained complacent in our comfort zones thinking that our activities will not catch up with us.
The enhancement of the country’s disaster risk reduction and management through the passage of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 was the idneitication of safety nets and appropriate interventions that should guarantee everyone’s their readiness when a disaster occurs.
Part of the solutions being put in place by the environment department is to install more ambient air quality monitoring machines in urban centers all over the country, This allows the agency and the local government to closely monitor the prevailing air quality in certain identified critical areas. In turn, the information can guide policy-makers and decision-makers in formulating appropriate strategies to prevent worst case scenarios in their area. One primary contributor to the worsening air pollution in the city is the exhaust fumes from motor vehicles. Serious effort must be made by concerned agencies to make sure the smoke emitted by motor vehicles are still within standards in order to help lessen the pollutants in the city’s air.
One overlooked air pollution factor is the burning of plastic and other hazardous materials by households. Barangays, especially their committees on environment and health are not monitoring this and conducting the necessary education of their constituents to avoid air pollution in their jurisdiction. Also, the local council for the protection of children should consider this as a threat to children and should be at the forefront of a campaign to stop burning of wastes in their barangay.
We support the sustained initiatives of concerned government agencies and local governments to at least minimize the pollutants in the air. Air is the source of oxygen that we need to survive. The management of clean air can only be successful if everyone cooperates because air moves and the pollution in one area can go to another area. People really need to cooperate with the strategies adopted by the government for implementation so that our environment remains safe and healthy.
However, we want the concerned government agency to make sure that the air quality monitoring machines that will be installed in urban centers are in accordance with modern standards to avoid a repeat of the air monitoring machines we have now that are allegedly substandard.
We must protect our environment so that we can pass it on to the next generations in good condition as their model for the kind of environment they will pass on to those who come after them. Let us adhere to the stringent environmental laws, rules, and regulations and principles to spare us from the backlash from the environment when it has had enough. Let us start the campaign for a clean environment in ourselves. It is not yet too late in the day.