Un-green

More than a month ago, I chanced upon on television the first presidential debate of the Democrat Party for the 2016 US Elections. Aside from the candidates’ conscious effort to attack their opponents merely on positions in various issues and platforms

More than a month ago, I chanced upon on television the first presidential debate of the Democrat Party for the 2016 US Elections. Aside from the candidates’ conscious effort to attack their opponents merely on positions in various issues and platforms (vs. personality politics), what impressed me about the debate is the presidentiables’ display of earnest desire to tackle an issue that has largely remained a highly academic term in this country: climate change.

In actuality, though, changes in climatic conditions may be considered a Filipino household experience, concretized in more frequent and intense calamities endured by a growing vulnerable population. In recent years, the worsening scenarios have been clearly depicted in the immensely destructive traversal of Super Typhoon Yolanda (internationally named Haiyan) in 2013 and Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana for international reference) in 2009. These events, a mere percentage of the total disasters that have come by the Philippine Islands, have resulted to thousands of casualties and billions worth of damage and loss. The statistics are logically expected to balloon if all disasters and the worth of their impacts are religiously documented. Records of these major events, however, are enough to stress the reality of climate change.

For its part, the government has taken measures to reduce, if not eliminate, risks posed by natural disasters. Following the ravaging of Typhoon Ondoy in Luzon leaving lives and properties upended, the Climate Change Commission was established in pursuance of Philippine Climate Change Act. Further, some of our budget was allocated to a Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) and other means to supposedly aid in the recovery and rehabilitation after calamities. Policies like the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010 and the People’s Survival Fund Act also exist.

The government clearly has a newfound appreciation for disaster mitigation. Couple this with the the successive coming of cataclysmic Typhoon Pepeng just weeks after Ondoy, the onslaught of Pablo and Habagat in 2012 and another in 2013, you would have thought that at least the government has done more to make the Yolanda aftermath endurable, one that is different from what actually transpired. But more than the dismal response of the government after the tragedy, what bothers me is its lack of regard on solving the antecedent problems causing this drastically shifting state of global climate. Save for the recent climate change talks to be attended by Filipino officials in Paris, the government has been taciturn for the longest time in discussing the phenomenon. Although the efforts to prepare Filipinos from disasters are noble, we cannot solely rely on this in the future; we are in need of concrete actions to battle climate change. The reality of today is we will be faced with more natural calamities brought about by climate change; the next generation, however, can still expect a future free from the adverse effects of this phenomena.

But we Filipinos are as much of a problem. Maybe we are already accustomed to experiencing typhoons day in, day out, but that should not stop us from battling climate change. On the contrary, it should remind us to be more responsible to our environment. We have always tagged ourselves as resilient, rising from natural disasters time and again, but is it not much better if our kids do not have to go through such anymore? Besides, efforts as simple as turning off appliances not in use or reusing shopping bags, when done collectively, is already a big contribution to the fight against climate change. Certainly behavioral change isn’t an immediate solution but the long-term effects of a responsible population caring for its environment, no doubt, can only result to an inhabitable Earth in the future.

The fight against climate change is a pressing one. While I believe it is the obligation of the government to lead us in this commitment, the actions that will make a change are ours. No policy can prevent the impacts of the force of the nature and definitely not any government alone can save us from this global catastrophe.