Today we join the nation and the whole world in the commemoration of Earth Day.
We celebrate the efforts of so many people here and around the world who are making our planet—our only home—a livable and safer place for all of us.
We’ve come a long way from when the global Earth Day movement was first kicked off 45 years ago in the US, or even just from the birth of Earth Day Network Philippines in 2000.
Environmentalism, or the citizens’ movement to save themselves from the consequences of the harm they’d done to the environment, dates back to long past. We look further back for inspiration. We have our indigenous ancestors to teach us how it is to live in harmony with Nature and with each other.
The dangerous turn climate change is taking seems to be the ultimate outcome of everything we have done in the past. We must see and take it as an urgent wake up call, for our own sake.
We have seen what sort of monster Nature could unleash on us. We saw it in 2013 in the monster Typhoon Yolanda and the horrific tragedy it brought upon us. We see this in the many signs of Nature’s fury even before that, and in more recent events like the devastation of the small island state of Vanuatu in the Oceania. *
We have seen what could happen to us, regardless of our differing levels of preparedness and resilience. We saw how much it could hurt, especially the poor and most vulnerable among us, who had little responsibility for causing the problem.
The worst is yet to come.
The good news is, there are solutions and people everywhere are trying these out everyday to the extent they can and wherever possible. The bad news, however, is the situation—as indicated by the continuing destabilization of the climate system—seems to be worsening, suggesting to us that our collective strivings have not been good enough.
We can do more, much much more, if only we try hard enough, individually and collectively. The killer is in the way we live our everyday in pursuit of happiness. The elephant in the room, as it were, is the way we consume and produce the things we think could lead us to a life of dignity and happiness.
Sad to say, for many of us, happiness is based on fossil, depending so much on relentless burning of coal, oil, and gas that’s now feeding back on us with Nature’s vengeance. Sadly as well, that happiness is not shared by all.
Let’s not be satisfied with the small or big progress that we see in stopping, nay reversing, further environmental decline. It’s all so well that we’ve saved the rare Philippine Eagle, that our forest cover has been gradually recovering, that environmental protection is now uppermost in public consciousness.
It’s long ways to go from where we are to fully redress the harm we have done to our natural resources—to our land, water, air, and living environments—and to ourselves.
What we do today, in our homes, in our community, anywhere, will eventually tell on the kind of future we want to build. It’s our responsibility to do something as best we can. Nature can very well take care of itself, as it probably knows better. It’s us who needs saving.
There’s no individual way out. We can go on, business as usual, as if nothing’s changed, and then face a future nobody wants. We can do better and don’t deserve to suffer for much longer. We must hang on to each other like sister to sister, like brother to brother, as one family, as one community, as one world, or we will all go down together.
Mother Earth be with us!
Happy Earth Day to all of us!
* President of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and President of Earth Day Network Philippines
March 8, 2014, Cocoon Boutique Hotel
Quezon City, Philippines