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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
MY PROBLEM with “realistic” laws is often the refusal to work for natural resource sustainability since the argument is that you cannot eat the environment.
This was the gist of my Facebook discussion with Rose, a Fil-Am Ilongga on social issues. We help each other on clarifying Catholic core beliefs with my non-Catholic Facebook friends.
But on other issues, we often lock horns. It’s more of a case of she says, he says. Rose is more on the Republican conservative stripe, batting for the US second amendment guarantee to own guns. And I’m on the opposite side of the table, pushing for strict gun control.
Her context is within American society. In my case, Philippine society. We perhaps disagree because we compare apples with oranges.
Then we have major issues on social development. Rose insists that “sustainability is impossible, because even the sun is destined to be gone. It is important to take care of the planet, but to make an unrealistic concept of sustainability is the real off the bat perspective. It will create a huge bureaucracy that will make accountability impossible. Just like the Roman Empire, it will collapse on its own weight, speeding up the demise of this world.”
She says that “history tells us, nothing lasts forever. Kingdoms rise and fall because human nature tells us, it is human nature. Egypt, Greece, Spain, The Roman Empires—East and West—all fell, including their languages.”
For Rose, sustainability is reaching for the unreachable star. “While we look at idealism as our inspiration toward that North Star, realistic policies should put our feet on the ground.”
That unjustified trust on economic development over ecological conservation is just as much an ideological and policy issue. As the argument goes, the poor cannot “eat the environment.”
My take is that “sustainability” is to dare to dream the impossible dream, and nothing less natural resource conservation is the way to put our feet on the ground.
Marcos trusted the export market, earned those precious foreign exchange by sacrificing our tropical rainforests. The explicit aim of the Marcos regime’s development strategy for export agriculture was “growth in output and export earnings.”
As a result, little attention was paid to environmental impacts of deforestation. From less than 10 percent of total exports in the early 1950s, it grew to more than 25 percent in the 1960s. However, export volume began to decline as the country’s forest resources were depleted.
During that time, too, the second biggest export was sugar. To meet international quotas, sugarcane plantation owners clear-cut secondary growth forest at the Northern Negros Forest Reserve and in Kanlaon.
That greed for foreign exchange is now bleeding taxpayers’ money. Sugar prices have fluctuated, and Negros Occidental is investing so much millions of government funds for reforestation and for relief and rehab of those hard-hit by super typhoons.
Now new generations of Filipinos are bearing the brunt of Mother Nature’s wrath committed by the sins of the dictatorial past, with flashfloods and mudslides killing innocent from barren mountains. As Brig. Gen. Gregorio Pío Catapang Jr., commander of the 7th ID, recently said, “The typhoons and floods claimed more than 10,000 lives. If (this) continues, the number of fatalities (could) surpass the 30,000 deaths in the insurgency problem.”
Combat is now more than the capacity to bear arms and shoot an armed foe. Sustainability is impossible? Let’s tell that to the victims of Frank, Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo. Because the country dragged its feet on sustainability, alas, we have not seen the last of these horrible typhoons.
Now we have to run where the brave dare not go.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 16, 2013.