Antonio M. Claparols
President, Ecological Society of the Philippines
THE GREEN REVOLUTION
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Philippine environment, dubbed a mega biodiversity country, is in danger as true as the saying goes. Our country once blessed with an abundant, healthy environment and balanced ecology is now in the threshold of an irreversible ecological meltdown.
Our forests are nearly gone and yet wanton logging goes on unabated with the knowledge of the government. Millions of species have gone extinct even before they were discovered and identified. Our water resources are running out as our forests continue to vanish. The air that we breathe is so polluted that with every breath we take— we inhale poison, toxic causing us to die slowly. Air and water are God-given resources, and not owned by anyone. Like the oceans, they are part of the Global Commons—owned by no one, but by all. Air has increased carbon dioxide content from 266 ppm (part per million) nearly 50 years ago to over 377 ppm today and it’s getting worse.
The Philippines is also part of the Coral triangle and considered to be the world’s center of marine biodiversity. Our marine resources are being destroyed due to the “waste basket” theory that the seas and oceans are the dumpsites of the world’s waste.
We all know that the seas are the life of the earth. They harbor countless species that complement our biodiversity and life support system. Our coral reefs and mangrove swamps are vanishing despite years of action and advocacies. These are the food chain and without them, all of us today will all suffer a catastrophic fate.
And so will the generations to come.
Our population continues to grow and with it, poverty is on the rise. We are a country so rich and yet so poor. Why do we ask? Is it a lack of awareness, is it ignorance or is it greed?
We feel that greed is the cause of destruction of our rich biodiversity.
Our government lacks the responsible actions and the political will necessary to protect our people and the environment. The economic order that they use is destroying us.
We need to change all these.
We need to repudiate loans that are marred by fraud, reduce our foreign debt and bring the culprits to the international courts. We need to create a whole new system that will not only enhance biodiversity but also result in eradicating poverty and giving us what is embedded in the constitution.
The right to a clean and healthy environment.
This is our right and we must demand for it—the outright violations of environmental laws on clean air, water, marine, forest, agriculture and now the dumping of toxic wastes and the selling of our patrimony to the extractive industries and bilateral trade.
This is a crime against humanity. It must be stopped.
Our country is rich; we can feed our population. We can be self-sufficient with our Natural Capital. We must think of ourselves first and protect, enhance and conserve our biodiversity for us and for future generations. After all, only Filipinos will speak for the Philippines.
We must not allow ourselves to be used and abused. We want food, sovereignty, clean water and air. We want a healthy environment for our people. If we need to die for the cause then so be it.
At least we can say that we did what we had to do. Personally, I see that the earth’s ecosystems will collapse in the next 10 years. We have seen the ice melting in the Artic.
We have seen the Extractive Industry Review of Dr. Emil Salim and the World Bank stating that mining will only make the poor poorer.
We have seen the GMO ban adopted by Switzerland and World Conservation Union (IUCN). We have heard Tony Blair call on the world to take action on global warming after the economic and environmental figures lost were quantified.
We have seen the ecosystem’s benefits, which give us life. The Millennium Ecosystem benefits provide us more than all the world’s gross domestic products (GDPs) put together.
Once an ecosystem is destroyed, it cannot be replaced. We cannot eat the gold that is extracted nor drink the waste that it gives. But we can eat, drink and survive with our rich biodiversity. Let us conserve mother earth’s natural capital.
We have seen our communities suffer from landslides, flash floods. And lives have been senselessly lost.
What are we waiting for? Let us ask ourselves.
A tsunami to strike Manila , or more people to die of starvation and diseases?
Time is running out. The earth is dying.