For days on end, we’ve been cuing up on just about what’s happening in the environmentally-challenged word. So far nothing eventful has come up, perhaps elbowed out of consciousness by what’s here and now, what’s mundane and pedestrian, and therefore more commanding of attention. Perhaps, that’s the reality on the ground. We’re more concerned over gut issues, what can keep the physical needs of the human body able to keep the head above water. As for what’s going to afflict us many years from now, even if it’s all about perdition and extinction, well, it can wait until the next savants’ grim warnings.
It’s just like when Thai teens were finally extricated from being trapped about 7 months ago deep in the bowels of the earth amid a cavernous trip. When word finally came that all trapped victims were eventually extracted, on stretchers, the we all erupted in a yell-out cheer. It was a victory cheer for humanity, something that anyone discovered to be in rich galore. It was a tragedy turned into a thrilling triumph by the heroic efforts of everyone bonded in a shared brotherhood. It’s simply called Mankind at work in tandem with one another.
If only the same kindred spirit can be harnessed for something about to hit dear ol’ Planet Earth in 28 years from now, when the world has become so heated up, when oceans begin to submerge island nations, when drought sweeps across huge landed areas, when plants and animals, all nature’s creations, begin to either be scalded by an overheating temperature or simply wither away in abject darkness.
Yes, fellow inhabitants, we’re just about to usher in another year of relentless environmental force and fury, courtesy of Mother Nature misbehaving without letup, as a result of the daily bombardment of toxic gases ejected into the global atmosphere. It were as if the Paris accord of nearly 250 nations has not made any dent at all for leaders and peoples to even approximate set targets of gas emission reductions.
The glaring truth is that hardly not much progress has even been near enough to merit global recognition. So puny have the efforts been, from continent to continent, that even the 1.5 degree benchmark on a targeted 2 degree goal couldn’t even be reached. Leaders are themselves bickering over what ought to be every country’s task in keeping with pledges etched on the accord.
Thanks God for huge mercies, the year that was reflected much of Climate Change’s global impact. Super hurricanes, snow in the Saharas, winter in summertime in European beach resorts, and nearly disappearing island nations — these were all happening from point to point of the globe as if something went askew somewhere that has triggered so much of the weather imbalance taking place as mere happenstance.
Of course, despite our being right in the center of the Pacific Ring of Fire, we Filipinos were still a blessed bunch, spared of the of these natural aberrations in the scale and magnitude of Yolanda. Gratefully, by this time, no major weather disturbance is anywhere near the country. For now, anyway.
One thing stands out in clear, unmistakable terms: the world knows how to act in concert when anyone is suddenly thrust in an unknown peril. Globally, we pull in as one and do the heroic sharing deed, regardless of affinity, creed, or circumstance, as demonstrated in the daring rescue of the hapless Thai kids. We act together, because we know that when tragedy occurs, it knows no rules to abide by, no traditions to respect. It just happens. Just like the weather and the changing climes.
Disasters caused by fast-changing climes simply happen, regardless of time, place and circumstance. And when it does, as it did, it merely provides a grim contrast to the years when Mankind has been on a merry-making mood with activities that have wreaked havoc on the world’s ecosystem, enough to make nature behave the way it does.
Several issues cry out for retribution. Clearly, government safety regulations are not being followed to the letter. Clearly, disaster-mitigating officials should always be alert-conscious, swift enough to give due notice, to issue timely warning alerts, to put people in danger zones out of harm’s way. Else, people become needless victims simply because they go about their usual ways in living their downtrodden life, heedless of any coming storm, and more concerned in squeezing in a day’s earning to close the day.
Surely, there are lessons of life that could have been deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of everyone. Surely, disasters become lesser of a risk when what must be done — and these are by the book — are sternly followed, when everyone mandated by a sense of responsibility does his job the best way it can be done. Grief and anguish over the painful tragedies may salve in time, justice may be served in the end, but if we keep on repeating wayward deeds that result in costly loss, then lessons have not been responsibly learned from one set of tragedy to another.
For us here in Baguio, the recent tragedies should spur us, leaders and constituents alike, to take stock of what we are in the national life, lest these misfortunes take place, and they certainly will unless proactive measures are made. Landslides and flashfloods are natural after-effects of a passing storm, happenstances that can be mitigated when prepared for. Road mishaps occurring along mountain highways are a dime a dozen in a year, given the dilapidated, worn-out motor vehicles that are allowed to ply our road networks that are everything but being smart, and our road builders are everything that being smart is all about.
After all, life is all about challenges that need to be faced with courage, competence, and compassion for others.