Editorial: 1,000 tons of grass-A A +A
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
READING the UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS) June 2012 discussion paper for the year of Rio 20+20, two decades-old quotations inserted struck a resounding note that somehow gives much sense to the wisdom imparted by our mayor and city mayor when they said over and over again that no matter what minerals lie beneath Davao soil, it will not be mined.
The first quote was that of an American chemist G. Tyler Miller Jr. in 1971, to wit: “Three hundred trout are needed to support one man for a year. The trout, in turn, must consume 90,000 frogs, that must consume 27 million grasshoppers that live off of 1,000 tons of grass.”
Throughout these years, our government has always been focused on the “300 trouts” needed to feed one man and continues to ignore the requirements to raise 300 trouts, which nature and not man has to produce -- the frogs, the grasshoppers, and the grass.
This is the very reason why despite protestations by local government units against mining in Davao City, the adamant stance of both mayor and vice mayor against this, in South Cotabato, the ban against open pit mining that is now being challenged by Executive Order 79, and the conversion into nature reserves by local legislation of various areas in Bukidnon, among others -- National Government still insists on welcoming multi-billion investments for mining.
It continues to sell large-scale mining, despite studies showing that mining will not even bring in employment. This despite studies that the destruction to be wrought by mining is much greater than what that industry can ever bring to the people and the country. We only need to look at photos of Taganito Nickel Mining in Surigao to get an idea.
“We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave -- to the ancient enemies of man -- half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all,” said Adlai Stevenson in his speech to the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva, Switzerland on July 9, 1965, the second quote that stands out in the report.
This, read in the backdrop of a map that shows the Philippines as among the countries whose ecological footprint is 100-150% larger than its biocapacity, should send everyone protecting every piece of earth that remains fertile in our country.
The idea of ecological footprint was conceived in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, to measure demands being made on nature by human activities.
Bad news, the Philippines now requires all of its land and water area, and to some extent need 50 percent more of the total land and water resources, to feed its present population, and we’re growing faster than most countries at that.
How much worse will it become tomorrow?
So much worse if National Government officials continue to be deaf to the protestations of local government units in the regions, especially if these same National Government officials only know the concrete jungles of Metro Manila and whose concept of development is the rise of yet another flyover or an extension of their light rail system. But then, the regions are where the 1,000 tons of grass will come from, how then can people have their 300 trouts a year if the grasslands have all been cemented over if not poisoned?
We’re in the Anthropocene Epoch, the report says, a word coined to describe the escalating human influence on the environment instead of geological processes that defined the epochs of the earth before.
But that’s a lot of science, and government officials would not want to be bothered with that.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 17, 2012.