Everyone’s concern

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I HAVE only a few experiences in visits to amazing places which now people identify as unforgettable occasions under “eco-tourism” but which are endangered by climate change.

What people hear of or fully experience changes in the world is about human disasters following heat waves and floods which drive seaside people away from their homes, then to a life of change in a now unfamiliar climate.

I do miss the old world.

In summer vacations, my friends and I would get out of town quickly for long drives to quiet places in Luzon and the Visayas away from what are referred to as urban locations. Of sea waves, one of my favorite summer mornings were by the sea during weeklong vacations in some interesting provinces.

These days, I’d watch out for the sharp slamming of rain in a surprise smash into the coast. Animals rush out of the familiar home away from a place too hot to take or too violent, like storms, to accept. There are even changes in the old seasonal migration timeline.

Of changes in migration patterns, I read in the Good Earth section of this paper about migratory butterflies now finding the world they know a strange place to live in, so they might have stopped the seasonal migration to Mexico where millions of Monarch butterflies annually fly to spend the winter away from the cold where they come from.

Many of them have stopped migrating since they’re in a changing world, many places going too urban for butterflies and their kind, and there are no more trees to rest on for the season with man’s thoughtless logging of trees.

Can you imagine migratory fishes also changing habits of motion to track down the changing season? Fishermen would have to adjust to the changes, perhaps in a new fishing mode? (And how quickly, how often must it change?)

Today when there are reports from Pagasa about a coming storm, people now rush away from the seaside into a strange new life inland. Now it’s dangerous to stay close to the sea when unexpected storm surges wipe out anything on its way.

We’re not talking of the natural changes in the life of migratory animals, like fireflies, butterflies, birds. In perfect harmony, they move above the earth to adjust to changes in seasons, they don’t disperse on their own.

My first sight of flying animals moving in clusters was in a cave called Guimit in the small island of Daram across Catbalogan, Samar in the Visayas.

We were inside the island cavern, the cave looking like a cathedral with lights from the sun slipping into holes way above us. Our local guides stopped by a huge rock standing in the middle of the entrance to where the lead guide knocked, asking permission for us to enter. And there were the bats in flight over our heads, as if objecting to our presence. That was my first sight of animals flying in clusters.

There also was our experience of fireflies in Olango island now called Olango Wildlife Sanctuary. It was nightfall and we walked in the marsh land quietly, not talking to each other, not slamming our steps in the mud in reverence to the silence of hundreds of fireflies softly flying to and around a tree until all quietly rested in each branch.

I knew they would fly off if they noticed a stranger at bay. But I was very quiet as I walked nearer the firefly-filled tree and felt a welcome in the air.

We left the wetland hoping that we didn't disturb the slumber of the beautiful creatures.

The news on tragic effects of climate change isn't just the concern of human beings but also of mammals, amphibians, insects, vertebrates like birds, even insects. Are you sure that the number of Olango's migratory birds have stayed the same in the last short stops here in this country?

They escape the cold of winter in temperate regions where they live and fly across the world to land in Olango island to stay a month or so, then on to Australia—shore birds and wading birds, egrets, sandpipers, plovers, among others they fly.

There are more than us humans adjusting to climate change.

(ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 09, 2014.

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