The doomsday clock has already been set at “one minute before midnight” by thousands of concerned scientists manifesting the truism that we are now in the state of planetary emergency as “climate change indicators are escalating so quickly that an emergency response is imperative if civilization is to avoid breakdown and eventual collapse.”
There is no doubt that images of what climate change looks like no longer belong to the future but are happening now.
Let us pause for a while and feel the pains of GAIA (Mother Earth). We, Filipinos, are very much aware that we have already lost our ecological integrity being the 4th hardest hit country in the world on climate change, based on the UN-Disaster Risk Index.
If you may recall, after the Ormoc Tragedy in 1991 where some 8,000 people died, many more devastating storms hit our country, i.e., Pablo, Sendong, Yolanda, etc. with tens of thousands of fatalities in just one night of flooding.
Indeed, if GAIA is a person, she has no more lungs (forest) as we have already lost the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest in just a century and all the mega-diversity (flora and fauna) that were living in our ecosystems for billions of years; her veins (rivers) are already dead as 15 of the 25 major rivers in the country have already dried-up or polluted; her stomach (the bays) is acidic or cancerous (of the 13 major bays, 10 are already biologically dead — silted, acidic and treated as garbage-pits of toxic chemicals from industrial pollution); her head is already bald as the ozone layer is now depleted because of non-stop carbon emissions.
That’s how sick GAIA is. Of course, the world itself won’t end as GAIA wont die; only ours will – our livelihood, our homes, our cultures. And we are squarely at the tipping point. GAIA’s global scenario is even worse: To quote Jeff Nesbit in his book, “This is the Way the World Ends:” “Larger droughts in the Middle East are causing extreme water shortages; growing desertification in China and Africa is creating a severe food security challenge; the monsoon season is shrinking in India, perhaps upending a century-old water cycle; amped-up heat waves in Australia are making part of the continent unlivable; more intense hurricanes could devastate entire cities in America; water wars in the Horn of Africa are now the root of armed conflict; rebellions, refugees, and starving children across the globe are becoming common-place.”
These are becoming common place. These are the pieces of larger puzzle that environmental expert Jeff Nesbit put together. Jeff Nesbit has put in clear categorical term that unless we start addressing the causes of climate change and stop simply navigating its effects, we will be facing unstoppable catastrophes.
Despite this truism on climate change that has put the world in planetary emergency, evident is the continuing denial of climate change science by corporations, and by the institutions that govern and inform society. Such denial has been described as the worst ever crime against humanity.
Indeed, there are people out there who not only question the widely accepted scientific view that current climate change is mostly caused by human activities. To quote Noam Chomsky who had been described by The New York Times as “the most important intellectual alive”: “It is astonishing fact about the current era that in the most powerful country (USA) in the world history, with a high level of education and privilege, one of the two political parties virtually denied the well-established facts — the Republican Party headed by then US President Donald Trump. Every Republican is a climate change denier and a considerable part of the population either joins the deniers or regards the problem as not very important.”
Such surprising denial on climate change, as explained by Noam Chomsky, is due to religious fundamentalism as half those surveyed in the USA believed that “God’s still up there and there’s a reason for this to happen and therefore, it is sacrilegious for humans to interfere.” In short, it is the belief of religious fundamentalists that “climate change is God’s will.” Well, am not surprise why that kind of alibi! Don’t you know that the 19 fossil companies are earning 17 trillion dollars annually through the usage of coal and fossil fuel or about 10 million dollars every minute. No way will they reduce their greed as they sacrifice GAIA to the altar of greed and power! Even using religions to continue their money raking in a world where all governments, institutions, universities and even religious groups are giving high veneration to the profit-motive.
Amidst the morale collapse and religious apathy, let us remember that sometime in 2015, Pope Francis in his encyclical letter, which was backed by all the major world faiths — referred to climate change as “a sin against God.”
Inspired by that, let us now declare and serve notice to one and all that climate change denial is a crime against humanity and all of life! We must strongly advocate for the phase-out of usage of coal (especially here in Mindanao where some six coal-fired power plants are operating without let-up) and to shift to renewable energies – hydro, solar and wind.
Orlando Ravanera is former chairman of the Cooperative Development Authority in the Philippines. After his retirement, he spends more time on his environmental advocacies and in his work for the indigenous people in northern Mindanao. All views and opinions express here are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of LiCAS News.