Truly, there is indeed climate change. In 1972, while I was still in college, I oftentimes would stop by to check the lighted temperature bulletin above the building of the National Press Club, just across Letran College. It was my barometer whether to feel fresh or humid. Always, the hottest record would be 32 degrees centigrade.
A few days ago while watching news; the reporter nonchalantly issued a weather update on Manila having a regular temperature of 39 degree Celsius. There is an increase of 6 degrees. That could only mean that for the last 45 years, the country got hotter.
After I retired, I transferred to a remote town of Davao Province and decided to live under an air of contemplation. Yes, Davao, the de facto capital of Mindanao. Mindanao in ancient dialect means “under the wind.” That explains why Mindanao was never visited by local hurricane or storms on the magnitude of a howling typhoon. Well, not anymore.
Months later I have settled in, happy on the belief that my senior years would be spent in tranquility, a howler passed by, dubbed typhoon Pablo. It virtually combed the countryside, tearing down houses, blowing down trees and toppling mountain sides. After a day of natural rage, the entire eastern side of Mindanao lay in shambles. According to elderly folks, that was the first time they experienced a storm of that scale. Clearly, it was the first in Mindanao. Climate change?
When I went to Palawan last week and dined at my favorite bistro the Badjao Seafront restaurant, I noticed that there was already a high wooden flank, some kind of a bridge, where diners use to reach the restaurant dining area. I was in Palawan 10 years ago and whenever I would take my lunch in said place, I would just walk on the shoreline. Water was at that time several meters off the shore. Not anymore. In a decade, water has risen. Another sign of climate change perhaps.
It takes a full generation for weather to change in a negative manner and it would also take another generation for the healing process if there would be a planet wide awareness on global warming. Arctic ice could be melting. The dwindling forest that protects the atmosphere from a heating universe could no longer contain the pressure. Nature could only take so much. Reduce nature by deforestation and poison its environment through industrial waste, then humanity will eventually be affected. Inability to read the times, mankind may evolve into another frightening specie not to his liking.
Worst, the planet may breed viruses and deadly bacteria that could wipe out the entire animal kingdom, man included.
There is one simple way of restoring the natural balance and heal the degradation wrought by man’s greed which led to climate change. Plant trees.
Years ago, I met a philanthropist, the venerable Dr. Cecilio Halili Penson, who offered much of his time teaching life skills to prisoners. He was the founder of the Philippine Greening Movement. Whatever that is, the greening part made an intriguing connotation. Dr. Penson was already in a crusade on environmental protection and climate change long before American Al Gore made a pinch on this regard. Only a few reckoned his teachings but in the prison community, he was the fountain of insight.
I remember some time ago, a prisoner, former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste , organized a project “Billion Tree” movement, probably lifted from UN Environmental program on Billion Tree campaign. It was instantly supported by former Chief Justice Renato Puno. I think the good Justice encashed half of his retirement gratuity in favor of the project. When the Billion Tree program was gaining headway, media questioned the integrity of the platform. In no time when others joined in bashing the program just because it was pursued by a prisoner. The project was able to occupy a number of hectares with thousands of bagged seedlings about to be planted. All of it got withered and poor prisoner who initiated the environmental plan along with benefactors, they were left without recognition. Worst, the inmate was even suspected of conducting a scam!
In Japan, there is forest bathing. In Latin America, there is mountain climbing. In dessert areas of the Middle East, monarchies are building structures that mimic nature complete with forest and gardens. Singapore has Garden by the Bay, an awesome project that promotes environmental consciousness. There is an organized environmental protection scheme by a strong lobby group composed of celebrities, tycoons, scientist, and those from the academe.
In the Philippines, the Duterte administration through its DENR Secretary Gina Lopez has shown the only way towards protecting the environment is through regulating if not suspending those firms involved in the exploration and exploitation of natural resources without regard to safety, health and welfare of communities in the area.
For ordinary folks, a simple way of planting a tree, or just a sapling, or maintaining any flora for that matter, can make a great difference. We need not be rocket scientists to make this happen.
Planting protects our planet (well, birds and other forest animals do it regularly through their pooh) and yes, in the process save the succeeding generation from calamities that may bring forth physical degradation, fatal diseases and related mayhem. We do not want our future grandchildren to look like mutants with abbreviated lifespan.
There is still hope to remedy our situation. Again, let’s plant and make some greenery, if allowable, around our place. That is how simple the solution is.
Saving the planet from climate change means stability and strength for the succeeding generation. Our forefathers may have given us civilization, comfort, technology and wealth. This time around, we must give express wisdom, discipline and awareness and restore nature back to how it was before exploitation.