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Opinion

Global warming, but where are we?

STRAWS IN THE WIND - STRAWS IN THE WIND By Eladio Dioko -
It was 38 degrees Celsius in Isabela and 37 in Tuguegarao the other day. Yesterday it was almost 39 degrees in General Santos while in Cebu City it was 34 at its hottest. Hot, very hot, is the mood of summer 2007. Is this the peak of the mercury, or will there be hotter days ahead? PAGASA says more hot days are still to come, so be prepared for greater discomfort.

Some species of trees are dying. Coconut trees, source of cash for most rural folks, are yellowing. Cornfields have nothing but dry stalks in them. Crops planted last month have grown only knee-high. And cows and carabaos have nothing but patches of dry grass to graze on. Hunger, that perennial wolf in the doorsteps of mountain households, has had a longer tenure these days. Will it be there for many more days?

In the cities the heat is simply unbearable unless you get inside air-conditioned places. Outside the sun seems to hit you with a million needles. Heat stroke becomes your lot if you are not careful. Or cough and cold and such for a bonus treat. What''s happening to Philippine climate?

Global warming is the culprit. It''s a global phenomenon, of course, affecting all countries in this planet. There''s supposed to be a protective layer of ozone in the atmosphere to shield us from excessive heat, but excessive green-house gas emissions have depleted this, thanks to pollutants from rich and industrialized countries plus, of course, those from third world ones like the Philippines.

Decreasing carbon emission is the counter-measure. The Kyoto Convention a few years ago was held for just such move. There industrialized countries including Japan, France, Britain and other developed countries committed themselves to reduce carbon outputs in their areas. But the United States, one of the biggest sources of industrial pollutants, refused to sign the accord. It had a number of reasons for this move, one of which was the likelihood that the measure would hurt its economy. Such non-cooperation has weakened the impact of the Kyoto treaty upon global ecology. Without the US leading the way, other countries are unlikely to cut back on their carbon emission. The outcome would be disastrous especially for poor countries such as the Philippines. This scenario - coastal flooding, lower crop yields, drinking water shortages, outbreaks of diseases and other dire consequences - would be inevitable.

Even without US prodding, however, other countries are taking measures to minimize global warming. Some have resorted to the use of alternative energy sources such as biofuel for vehicles, windmills and solar panels for power generation. Others have intensified their greening programs or are upgrading their garbage disposal systems.

What has the Philippines done so far towards this end? One of the legislative initiatives is the law requiring the use of biofuel as additive to petrol in motor vehicles. Another is the 1999 Clean Air Act. Still another is the Solid Waste Management Act (R.A. 9003).

The biofuel law is of recent vintage. Seriously implemented, it would reduce vehicular gas discharges, limit our dependence on fossil fuel and therefore reduce too our dollar expenditure. More important, it would revitalize our pathetic sugar industry because cane-based alcohol is the basic ingredient of this energy source. The problem, however, is implementation. Like other legislations the objective is good but as always politics and the pocket come into play. Multi-national oil companies, for example, will not stand idly by to let their business be tamped down by this law. Counter-measures will most certainly be taken to minimize its effect, and since those in the power circles are not exactly angels (as shown by their poor track records on previous multi-million projects), connivance is not a distant possibility.

Connivance could also be behind the lukewarm implementation of the Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act. Both laws ban the use of landfills and incinerators as mechanisms for garbage disposal. But there''s a big cut from companies doing garbage tracking for LGUs, hence, despite these laws, little is happening in the area of ecological enhancement.

Heat? Flood? Diseases? We deserve these, after all we are doing little to make this country (or this planet) a better place to live in.
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Email: [email protected]

BUT THE UNITED STATES

CEBU CITY

CLEAN AIR ACT

COUNTRIES

GENERAL SANTOS

ISABELA

KYOTO CONVENTION

SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT

SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT AND THE CLEAN AIR ACT

TUGUEGARAO

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