COMMENTARY | Earth Day amid the scourge of climate change

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

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TODAY is Earth Day, organized through the initiative of Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in 1970, and countries of the world bonded to celebrate Earth Day on this day to remember and appreciate the life giving abundance and promote the beauty of the Earth.

On April 4, 1990, a sense of immense hope was raised when our Senate adopted a resolution that I filed urging President Corazon Aquino to declare April 22, 1990 as Earth Day. The resolution was meant to reflect our growing commitment to the conservation of our environment.

That was 27 years ago. Today, however, Earth Day has become an observance of all 194 countries to save Mother Earth from the ultimate disaster – Climate Change – unless mankind can reduce and finally remove Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) from the atmosphere.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), pointed out a concentration of 3,100 billion metric tons of GHGs in the atmosphere that brought about the overheating of the whole Earth to an average 1.3˚C higher, than before the industrial revolution.  This overheating is melting the Polar Caps, the ancient glaciers of the Himalayas, causing the rising of the oceans, and the severe and more frequent typhoons and storms, and great droughts.

The global environment that we sought to enhance has deteriorated – much to the anguish of leaders causing the suffering of populations across the world. Increasing carbon emissions, the result of   uncontrolled use of coal and hydrocarbons, are creating climate impacts that are catastrophic:

In Bolivia, Lake Poopo – which used to cover an area of 1,000 square kilometers – has dried up.  In Africa, Lake Chad has shrunk by more than 90 percent since 1963.

Prolonged drought and extreme temperatures are taking terrible tolls on food crops. In sections of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, a three-year drought has led to enormous crop failures and the loss of livestock.  We have suffered intermittent droughts in Mindanao and the Cagayan Valley.

Deforestation, removal of vegetation, and exploitative agriculture had degraded lands, turning these into deserts. In China, the deserts have expanded by 21,000 square miles since 1975, crowding out cropland and producing devastating sandstorms.  In our own country, this has led to typhoons and tropical storms that are becoming more intense, with higher loss to lives and properties.

As we observe Earth Day 2017, let us recognize that climate change is a threat multiplier.  It is undermining economic and political stability of nations. And ecological disasters are wreaking turmoil in many societies to the point where huge numbers of people are being displaced, becoming “environmental migrants” or “climate refugees.”

Earth Day must be a consciousness awakening to protect life, to reduce CO2, to reduce the overheating of the Earth.  Rapid carbon cuts will curb the severe climate change.  Governments, communities, individuals, must all join hands to reduce CO2.  

We appeal to our people to keep their communities clean, to stop the pollution of our rivers and lakes, to grow trees or mangroves along our coastal areas, and to teach our children to love and protect our environment.

Our government could now ramp-up the transition to a climate economy with our ratification of the Paris Accord that takes effect today (Earth Day).  It could begin to promote a systematic shift to alternative fuels mix, and create the infrastructure necessary to encourage and connect a wide range of climate actions.

Unless we reduce CO2 the overheating of the Earth will continue and if it reaches 2˚C mankind cannot stop this heating anymore.  It could mean the gradual destruction of our life-support system and inevitably, the human civilization.

Earth Day must be a day to raise consciousness to love and protect Mother Earth, and to save the generations of man!

Earth Day must be a celebration of life!/PN 




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