The Old Year and its Baggage
By Digoy Fernandez If only the process of sweeping out the baggage and detritus of the old year could be so simple. Just get a broom and sweep away! Unfortunately, life in real time suggests that the only way to get rid of old baggage is to sweep clean oneâs own psyche, more like an emotional cleansing. At the very least, even if the problems of the old year manage to carry on into the New Year, one would be better conditioned, mentally that is, to tilt with the windmills that 2009 promises to bring to bear on oneâs already tired shoulders. A comment was made to the blog on global warming, insinuating that it is a problem of the elite or those who would raise the specter of rising ocean levels just to obtain paltry grants. Well, speaking for myself, I donât get paid a single cent to blog, nor do I rely on anyoneâs largesse to support this private initiative in favor of the environment (among other concerns, of course!). It is true that the planet has had to deal with catastrophic events in millennia past. But if we just think of the rough time span that homo sapiens has been on this earth, this would be the equivalent of a hiccup in the face of millions â perhaps billions â of evolutionary years. The great difference is that the recent crisis has been largely man-made, mainly through the rapid use of non-renewable resources, the constant emission of effluents into the air and the worldâs water systems, and the creation of incredibly large carbon footprints per capita that the worldâs dwindling forests can barely cope up with. (FYI, trees generally are able to process carbon dioxide from the air and convert them into oxygen, etc.) Who will be affected by rising ocean levels? Will this be merely a subtraction in the number of islands in a given archipelago? Well, try filling up a pan with water â with simulated island masses on it â and find out the harsh truth: rising seas will not discriminate on who or what they drown. Rich or poor, same same! Even if only 1,000 islands will be left of the supposedly 7,000+ islands we have in our archipelago, this will not mean that the islands left behind will be intact as before. They will also suffer severe diminution in size, leaving only areas maybe more than a couple of meters above water able to survive. Almost all existing shorelines of the big islands will be obliterated and will see a literal âsea changeâ, i.e., the encroaching seas will take over much of existing dry land. In which case, man had better learn to live in the hills and high mountain areas of of the world. Unfortunately, many of the worldâs poorer people live along the periphery of the normal habitats available to man, such is their inability to obtain more advantageous locations for their makeshift housing. Therefore, the poor would be most affected by rising ocean levels, whereas the rich will be able to secure better upland-inland areas for themselves. So, except for those coveted beachfront properties that the rich seem to gravitate to, the great masses huddle tightly in areas vulnerable to inundation, close to rivers and seas. Because this problem is one that affects everyone regardless of social or economic status, it is important to find out how one contributes to or helps minimize global warming. Again, this is not a problem generated by the elite for its benefit, because all mankind will have equal opportunity to drown in the encroaching waters as the Greenland ice, glaciers, and polar caps melt. There are already evident signs of this as we witness the sad plight of mighty polar bears drowning or starving as their normal hunting grounds melt into the oceans. I have a tongue in cheek name for the so-called Environmental Concerns committee of my village: The Tree-Cutting and Environmental Destruction Committee. This is a well-deserved sobriquet given their total lack of consideration for true environmental preservation and appreciation of the impact of their actions. If the strict implementation of PD 953 were to be observed, I figure they owe millions of pesos in fines and penalties for their wanton destruction of the existing tree cover and even half of the mini-forest we planted two decades ago. How can we talk about the economy and keeping afloat when we canât even take the first step towards keeping the country afloat, period! And just in case anyone out there is interested, look up the many opportunities that now exist in the areas where environmental concerns are pre-eminent. Biofuels, hybrid motors, hydroponic and organic farming, tree farms with selective cutting, safe waste disposal methods, etc. These are areas that will not go down with the sinking economy, simply because more and more people know that these are vital to the planetâs survival. We must, therefore, consider what baggage to leave behind in this year, and begin to think about new and better initiatives that would help both the earth and the people who live in it. Initiatives need not be big: A tree planting every month for each individual, stopping the use of non-biodegradable products, renewing & recycling, helping poor families get ahead with proper tutoring and assistance with microfinance and other such successful models, and so forth. We just have to take that first all important step!
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