Original Image: Executive Chronicles
By Tony V. Inting/Philippines
The Philippines, a country where most of the citizens can still wear a joyful smile in the face of extreme calamities and hardships, has a long way to go in carrying out actions that aim to minimize the climate change-induced damages. The innate happiness that Filipinos share, as non-locals are greeted by their warm smiles, has become a part of the country’s practices and norms. When typhoon Haiyan (locally known as typhoon Yolanda) ravaged the country in 2013, it dealt damages amounting to $2.5 billion.
In spite of the massive damages brought by the typhoon, the Filipinos remained resilient during the disaster and really inspired British soldiers who were dispatched for disaster response. It has been established that one of the coping strategies of the citizens, be it in trials or disasters, is to smile away the problems and go on with life.
However, could the nation’s lack of actions towards climate change be attributable to the Filipinos’ resilience in times of disaster?
Besides the lack of education with regard to the subject, could Filipinos’ tendency to just move on and not learn from the past the reason for lack of actions to address environmental concerns?
A study from WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) identified six climate scenarios that are likely to take effect in the country as the environmental concerns continue to be given inappropriate attention. Such scenarios include:
(1) El Niño Southern Oscillation Events (ENSO) are likely to continue as a significant source of inter‐ annual climate variability in the Coral Triangle region.
(2) Sea Surface Temperatures are likely to be between 1 to 4oC warmer by the end of 21st century.
(3) Ocean Acidification will likely make the aragonite saturation state “marginal”, within the period from 2020 to 2050, for coral reefs and marine life that require calcium carbonate.
(4) Sea Levels are likely to rise from +4 to +6 meters due to the possibility of the melting of the large land-based ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
(5) Tropical Cyclones are likely to become more intense.
(6) Rainfall, River Flow and Flooding are likely to become more extreme.
Having those scenarios in mind, it is therefore important to veer away from the idea that our individual actions don’t affect others. The simple decisions that we make every day may not seem to have an effect to others, more so to the environment but in a way, the simple choice of food, mode of transportation, and hygiene products may impose an irreversible damage to the environment, therefore heightening the natural calamities that hit the country.
In times of disaster, more than just enduring the challenges brought by it, it is also important to learn from it. One of the reasons why we are experiencing the extreme effects of calamities is due to the fact that most of us, Filipinos, have little regard for our environment as proved by our surroundings and the state of our marine life.
Having no influence or financial capacity to inspire climate actions are not enough reasons for not helping to improve the climate situation in anyone’s country.
Every individual, regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, may take part in being stewards of the environment in every way that they can. Let us help improve the state of the environment in all the ways that we can because in pursuing such an endeavor, we are not only saving the earth but also the succeeding generations that will take our place in this planet we call home.
Tony V. Inting is a Project Member of the ATO-ClimatEducate Project. He has a strong passion in community development, education, and most especially, environmental awareness. His hobbies include cycling, writing, and photography; all of which give him a better appreciation of nature and humanity and he uses them to spread his advocacy for people to be stewards of the environment.