• Coming to terms with Mother Earth

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    THE rains have arrived and none too soon. In fact, by all counts, wishes and current farm devastation, very late. Climate change is upon us and every ordinary climate event is skewed toward giving its worst effect. If it is summer heat, it is unusually hot, hotter than previous summers’ experience of high temperature. It is also longer than normal, making it take on a devastating presence. This year, the unbearable heat commenced before the middle of March and went on to higher and higher levels all of April and most of May. The El Niño phenomenon that has come is one of the very worst El Niño events experienced within living memory. Now we are told that its opposite, La Niña, is not far behind, with warnings of intensive rains that surely will turn to floods, cause landslides, destroy crops. From one extreme to the other.

    World meteorological information echoes what we are experiencing. Hotter temperatures, icebergs melting, oceans rising, coastal areas inundated. And more to come.

    The number of earthquakes and their high intensity is ominous as we await the Big One in the Metro Manila area.

    Of course we must be prepared and governments must be prepared. But it may not be enough given Nature vs. Humanity. Beyond that unequal battle, if people resist evacuation in time of danger from floods, typhoons, landslides, earthquakes and other calamity-type weather and Earth events, it may be more calamitous. If government, through community officials, is not firm and authoritative about where people may safely live and build with particular attention to building codes and safety measures, disaster may not spare us.

    The world in general is aware and spreading the information about what to do and how to cope when these predicted events come upon us. Our government is in the loop. It has been conducting drills, giving out information, suggesting coping mechanisms. We are part of the United Nations following preparedness information and instructions regarding the above possibilities.

    Education, Science, Management and Organization will be much needed to meet what is coming in a positive and prepared way. Human dynamics will play a large role. Panic, anxiety, hysterics must be countered with leadership, calmness, compassion and knowledge. When all else is under siege, the essential humanity of each toward each should ideally come to fore.

    I hope this is not wishful thinking. How often have we seen and heard, even experienced how fellow human beings sacrifice themselves for others, put those in need above themselves in fleeing disaster. Think of the Yolanda experience, the Ondoy devastation, the ships that have sunk, fire victims, earthquake victims, and remember the heroism they brought out in unexpected places among what seemed to be unexceptional people.

    But perhaps now is not the time to think of future doom and be gloomy. Let us welcome the rains as they cool the landscape and the temperatures. Let us hope they bring the best out of the earth. Let us wish that they keep their worst effects in check. But let us, too, be prepared.

    Meanwhile, note how this summer with its length and heat has brought out the best in our flowering trees. Narras are still in bloom way past their February-March appearance. The flame trees are coloring the countryside with their fiery hue, standouts against the landscape of other trees and mountains. Cassias too are on show as well as banaba trees flaunting their lilac flowers. Then there is the golden shower, ordinarily a forgettable-looking tree, but when it presents its yellow chandeliers dripping in the sun, they take your breath away. Over in Baguio, the jacaranda trees are showing exceptionally profuse flowers too. I can also imagine the Palawan cherry trees that dot the plazas of Mindanao in full pink shades bloom as I have seen them in summers back.

    We have to come to terms with Mother Earth. Love her, care for her, defend oneself against her, enjoy her.

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