PHOTO BY DANIEL RONERTS FROM PIXABAY
PHOTO BY DANIEL RONERTS FROM PIXABAY

HERE we are once more highlighting the need to save the planet in this 52nd Earth Day celebration. Much has been done by governments, civil society, businesses, faith communities and individuals in the last half century in order to arrest the environmental decline. This concerted effort has greatly improved the environment; however, we also know that there remains a bigger problem, one that needs our urgent attention, resources, and, focus: the threat of climate change.

This year's edition of the Earth Day calls our attention to invest In our planet. By this, we mean that we move, utilize, and, allocate resources in order to develop innovation and technology to address environmental degradation. Much has developed over several decades in terms of clean technologies such as solar panels hydropower, etc. However, the gap between clean and sustainable technologies and processes as against the traditional fossil fuel based technologies is still very wide. This is why we maintain our call on the Philippine government, particularly the next administration, to start thinking of ways to incentivize communities, local governments, businesses, academia, and, even, faith-based communities to shift from fossil fuel to clean energy.

Moreover, we should desist from any talks, any consideration on the revival of the nuclear power plant as nuclear power is not a sensible option for us today. Nuclear power and its destructive force would wreck havoc to our vulnerable environment in the event of a natural disaster, which is abundant in our country. Economically, we will be tied to a decades long contracts to purchase fuel rods, technical consultancies and maintenance and repair to sustain that power plant. On top of these, the disposal of spent fuel rods would be a logistical challenge in an archipelago with a unique flora and fauna signature.

Instead, we should harness what nature has provided for in our 7,641 islands: abundant sunshine strong habagat and amihan winds, and, massive ocean currents that pass through our islands. We have barely scratched the surface in harnessing these abundant resources of the islands. Our renewable energy plan developed over several administrations is a good blueprint in order to transition to clean and sustainable energy. Hence, the next administration should encourage these investments and provide a good business climate for all those who wish to enter into this industry to provide clean and sustainable sources of energy for our communities.

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Alongside investments on clean energy, the Philippine government should also ramp up its investments in resilience building. The new normal brought about by climate change cannot be stopped anymore; and, scientists all over the world have already raised enough alarms that we will be passing the point of no return soon. Therefore, it is important that our communities, especially in the islands, start to get investments in their capacity to adapt to the new normal. Resilience building should already be a bedrock of our development planning in the next years and decades if we wish to get ahead in addressing the impacts of climate change. These investments should focus on building capacities as well as infrastructure to support these capacities.

Of course, we cannot also forget to increase our investments in sensible environmental interventions such as reforestation, river cleanups, solid waste management, clean air, clean water and many others. These are critical to a healthy and balanced ecology that our communities should enjoy. The next administration must see to it that the environment, from which we get the resources for our development, is prioritized and protect it. Likewise, the people that live near these resources, whose very lives and livelihoods depend on them, must be given utmost care and support. Scale should tilt in their favor as they are the real stakeholders of these lands and its assets.

Finally, Earth Day is only meaningful if it permeates our own individual lives. Our day to day engagement with the natural world should move us to take a harder look at how we treat her. Mother Nature provides and supports us on a day to day basis. It is only just that we should also celebrate, protect and care for her every single day.