Peña: The problem is us! | SunStar

Peña: The problem is us!

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Peña: The problem is us!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

MISS Earth-Philippines 2017 Karen Ibasco was asked in the Q and A portion of the pageant: “Who or what do you think is the biggest enemy of Mother Earth and why?" She responded: "I believe that the real problem in this world is not climate change; the real problem is us because of our ignorance and apathy. What we have to do is to start changing our ways, to start recalibrating our minds, and redirecting our steps, because together, as a global community, our micro efforts will have a macro effect to help save our home, our planet. Thank you." She won the Miss Earth 2017 crown, the fourth for the Philippines.

I think she hit the nail on the head. We messed up big time. God made the Earth a perfect place. Everything was balanced. In the beginning there was no global warming or climate change. There’s just enough greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to sustain life. There was no pollution because the Earth can heal itself naturally.

But through centuries of ignorance, neglect, abuse, greed and apathy, the Earth became sick. We made technological and economic progress, but it is at the expense of the environment. We forgot our role as stewards of the Earth. Genesis 2:15 defined our role in creation clearly –“ The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

In the simple issue of waste management alone, we can see apathy. The Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) attitude is very prevalent. We keep our homes and surroundings very clean, yet we treat the rest of the world as a big trashcan. How do you explain the behavior of a rich and educated person driving a luxury car opening his window and throwing his garbage outside?

Now nature is getting back at us. We punched a hole in the ozone layer thus increased skin cancer. We cut down trees and emitted too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so we have super typhoons and drought. We polluted rivers and seas now we have dwindling food and water supply.

We have so many environmental laws that are supposed to conserve, protect and properly manage the environment. We have the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to name a few. In spite of these laws, environmental degradation continues.

Seeing the effect of our folly, we are now aware that Earth’s resources are not finite. But awareness leads to nothing if it is not translated to actions. Celebrating Earth day, Earth hour, river clean-ups or holding a Miss Earth Pageant are not the solutions themselves but are means to call us into action to address environmental problems. If we don’t do anything, these events are for naught.

Experts say that the way to go is sustainable development. Progress without harming the environment. Individually, we can do something. Simple acts of segregating our waste, using re-usable bags, planting a tree, saving water, saving electricity, keeping our cars well-maintained, will go a long way. If we all do our share, this world will be a much better place to live in.

Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on November 10, 2017.

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