LOOK at the sky. It has the same color wherever you go. Just as we see the same color of the sky, all of the peoples in the world now face common challenges and share the same vision.

This is so because the world has become a global village and we have become citizens of the community of the earth. As global citizens, we are facing common threats particularly on hunger and poverty and the worsening ecological degradations.

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We are now on the 10th year of the 21st century and we are not so certain whether we will reach the 22nd century as the earth warms and the oceans rise. According to environmental experts, we are beyond the tipping point as we have reached the point of no return in terms of the irreversible destructions inflicted on Mother Earth. We have not at all taken heed of that ecological warning once uttered by Mahatma Gandhi, that “if man has to be saved from doom, development must be in harmony with nature and not at its expense.”

We are afraid of the grim scenario ahead as countries in Asia, home to more than half of the world’s population, will certainly lose their food security. It is scientifically established that for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature, there will be a corresponding 10% decrease in rice, wheat and corn production.

Another serious threat to food security is the melting of the Himalayan glaciers which irrigate the Mekong Delta that cuts across the countries of China, India, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and from where millions of hectares of rice lands depend on. It is feared that these vast rice lands will be wasted when sea water inundates the Mekong Delta.

On top of these threats is the exponential growth of the world’s population. A century ago, there were only 3.3 billion people on earth; today, we have about 6.6 billion. By 2050, UN demographers have estimated that earthlings will reach the 9.3 billion mark. How can the earth feed, cloth and house the homo sapiens of this great number when Mother Nature has been exploited and massacred beyond recognition?

On its part, the Philippines must also set its mark by significantly reducing incidence of hunger and poverty and must stop our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters.

We have to address these challenges head-on as time is of the essence. We have to understand that by 2015, there will be an unprecedented demand for food, water, shelter and jobs for 96.3 million Filipinos.

The urgent call is really to fight poverty as the Philippines has now the highest prevalence of poverty in East Asia, according to the Asian Development Bank’s Report. Our politicians are brandishing to fight poverty, yet, they are not saying how to do this.

Perhaps it may do well to inform our candidates, especially those who are claiming that they were once poor but were able to extricate themselves from the viciousness of poverty, this truism: that the development paradigm that has made a few very rich is founded on the very structure that has consigned the bulk of the people inside the vicious cycle of poverty.

The truth is, a few has become powerful by making the many powerless; that the root cause of poverty in this country is not that we are lacking of resources but that the people are lacking of power to benefit from these resources. Poverty is rooted in the disempowerment of the people to have access and control over their resources which are fast slipping through their fingers. Attacking the root cause of the problem means that the people must be empowered to craft their own destiny. (cda_cdo@yahoo.com.ph)