HER name is Gaia (Mother Earth) and today Gaia is in deep pain and hemorrhaging without let-up and is now dying. We are now on the 19th year of the 21st century but we do not know whether we can reach the 22nd century which is only 81 years from now. Yes, the unimaginable is becoming imaginable: the end of life on earth. Let us now diagnose Gaia.
Her “lungs” (the forests) are almost gone. In the Philippines, only eight percent of that “lungs” remain as the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forests have been ravaged, causing the massacre of all life forms that dwelt in the forest ecosystem for billions of years.
In the uplands of Cagayan de Oro, Lanao and Bukidnon, the 200,000 hectares of dipterocarp forest had been totally logged without let-up for five decades by six logging companies that had violated all the environmental laws prohibiting them to log in areas with altitude of more than one thousand meters above sea level or in slope with more than 50 percent gradient. All areas logged by the loggers were within these prohibited zones. They did not even do their obligation to do replanting. The DENR must be made accountable why that office did not enforce the environmental laws in the past years.
Her “veins” (the rivers) are either drained or heavily polluted as 25 major rivers in our country are biologically dead. We have already lost 75 percent of our mangroves (the spawning grounds of fish) and only five percent is in excellent condition.
Our coral reefs, that delicate gift from Providence have been heavily destroyed through dynamite fishing and “muro ami.” How stupid were we when during the time of the dictatorship, the Philippines entered into an agreement with Japan (the RP-Japan Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation) which allowed the Japanese computerized trawlers and fishing vessels to literally rake our seas. The Philippines was described then as the “center of the center of marine life on earth.” Now gone forever!
Her “fever” (global warming) lingers, causing Her so much discomfort, i.e. colds (storms), sneezing (typhoons), shakings (earthquakes), and deliriums (tsunamis). Her “stomach” (the oceans) is now so upset as the seas rise and the glaciers melt. Her “skin” (the 6-inch top layer of the earth -- the soil that gives life) has been scalped through mindless mining operations and “blood” (the water table) has been injected with toxic chemicals through conventional agriculture. In Mindanao alone, the 200,000 hectares of plantations are intensively applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides that as if some 2,000 dump trucks are unloading chemicals to our water table daily. In fact, based on studies, of the 14 types of chemicals, eight are already banned abroad. That is why so many Filipinos are dying of cancer.
All told, Gaia has been sacrificed to the altar of greed and profit based on a flawed development paradigm, giving credence to money must grow principle called neo-liberal capitalism. Unbridled materialism and consumerism has given way to the over-eating and obesity in the North while billions of people go hungry in the South.
We are now facing an alarming ecological crisis that unless soon averted will lead to an impending ecologically-based political, economic and social collapse.
The global scenario is even worse. Thousands of scientists are yelling as loudly as they possible can that we are in trouble on our planet from Earth’s changing climate. These concerned scientists and environmentalists are saying that “the signs of the trouble range from massive species extinction and ocean system collapse to water scarcity and food insecurity that now threaten the lives of tens of millions of people in distant lands. Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable. Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising.
Temperature are going up. Ice sheets are melting. Sea levels are rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse. The oceans are acidifying. On every continent and in every ocean, animals and plants are moving toward the poles.”
In addition, it is the observation of the scientists that “longer droughts in the Middle East are causing extreme water shortages. Growing desertification is China and Africa is creating a severe food security challenge. The monsoon season is shrinking in India, Amped heat waves in Australia are making part of the continent unlivable. More intense hurricanes could devastate entire cities in America. Water wars in the Horn of Africa are now the root of armed conflict. Rebellions, refugees, and starving children across the globe are becoming commonplace.”
Let us recall what the late US President John F. Kennedy (JFK) said in 1961 as he stood before the United Nations, “Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when the planet may no longer be habitable.” He spoke of nuclear annihilation then. If only JFK were alive today, am sure he will reiterate the same warning as Mother Earth (Gaia) is in severe pain, this time not due to nuclear war but due to climate change.