THE TASK AHEAD is simple and clear enough if we want to do our share to protect, preserve, and nurture whatever is left of our environmental resources: what can we do, singly and collectively, without having to hope that the leaders of people, regardless of nationality, religious and political persuasion, and social distinctions, are doing their mandated responsibility, as global leaders.
To begin with, the leader of the world’s number one policeman showed us exactly how we, ordinary persons, can go about our own self-accepted task, now that he has trumped a global agreement, and thumped at the worldwide effort to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Leaders may come and go, but people is constant, making it our supreme task to do our share, no matter how infinitely puny when done singly, or infinitely significant when done collectively.
Walking the short distance is the easiest, self-sacrificing thing we can do. Instead of revving up our motor vehicles and driving our way day-by-day, we can disengage from this modern conveyance and just trod on the beaten path. Do the pleasant walk every now and then for life’s simplest but greatest pleasure: it’s good for the heart, good for one’s health, and good for the environment, since no carbon dioxide gets out into the air.
We can even up the bar by going carless once a week, not just in compliance with the number-coding traffic regulation, but in obedience to doing what is right. Two academic institutions are presently doing just that, demonstrating that a once-a-week disengagement from our cars not only unchains us from over-relying on our motor vehicles, but actually makes us masters of our own small journey in treading our usual pathways.
If every journey, according to a Chinese proverb, starts with the first step, then by taking the first steps to walk through life’s varied needs is in itself the very journey we’re taking to help reduce our dependence on carbon dioxide, consequently making us act by ourselves on a global need. By taking the first steps, like a toddler making his initial foray into this world, we’re actually helping clean the air we breathe, a significant share to make Baguio the once-pristine place the Americans have found at the turn of the last century.
Right here and now, we are amid the rainy months. At the slightest downpour, the mountain soil loosens up triggering landslides on steep habituated ravines that have lost vegetative cover. The river tributaries swell up, inundating everything on its path. Fortunately, we’ve had no deadly effects thus far, but rather than loosening up on our perpetual watch, we should exert greater vigilance in the coming weeks, with about 15 more weather aberrations expected to come our way.
Let us be constantly reminded that our own folly in polluting the earth’s atmosphere has turned deadlier throughout much of the recent centuries. We’ve been abusing our fragile environment, we’ve been wreaking havoc on our precious ecosystem that has been our lifeline into the future. By 2047, the earth’s surface temperature would have drastically altered, enough to ignite mankind’s own ill-fated annihilation and extinction. And that’s just 30 short years away!
It’s either we work together now, or perish as one later. Doing the right thing is never too late when done together, now and never later. Because in the end, it is people, not just leaders and charlatans, who must do its share, even at the cost of the most extreme of sacrifices to keep Planet Earth a worthy hand-over liberated from the clutches of fossil fuel, free enough to go the extra mile, beyond the borders of our self-serving attitudes, beyond the barriers that greed may impose.