Letters to the Editor

A grandfather’s tale and climate change

The Philippine Star

This year has surpassed last year’s record for the hottest year, and the trend seems likely to continue. What I fear most is the scarcity of water and the spread of forest fires into urban areas. As of this writing, fires have reached cities, predominantly affecting poor communities. The scorching heat continues, setting records in India and the Middle East, and summer has just begun.

Panama has lost an island to climate change as rising water levels engulfed it.

Climatic catastrophes are everywhere. The United States faces severe storms of heat and cold, and China has experienced significant flooding. Forecasting the weather is increasingly difficult as cyclones, typhoons, extreme heat, cold spells and tornadoes occur more frequently.

Are we ready for this changing climate? Are we prepared and climate resilient? No, we are not – and we must adopt measures immediately. Abatement and mitigation efforts must accelerate as we have breached the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold agreed upon at COP 28 in Dubai this year. With the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, few are paying attention to climate change.

Ukraine, the second largest exporter of wheat, controls 33 percent of the world’s black fertile soil and boasts a literacy rate of 99.7 percent, the fourth highest globally. The war is exacerbating climate change, as evidenced by the floods in Russia.

I will be leaving the Philippines – hot, humid and increasingly impoverished. I travel to London for my son’s graduation at the London Business School, then to Lisbon and Paris, hoping the heat will not greet me there. It’s ironic that when Andres was in Xavier School, I spoke to his fifth grade class about ecology. Now, ecology and economics are essential subjects that are still not widely implemented.

Peace is needed, and I am happy that President Zelensky of Ukraine came to Manila from the Singapore peace dialogue.

On another note, the West Philippine Sea issue is gaining attention. I hope China understands that freedom of navigation is crucial and that the richness of the coral reefs in the Spratly Islands is essential to the Pacific Ocean. After all, the oceans are living ecosystems that are endangered.

I am now officially a grandfather to a girl, Alessi. I feel sad, sorry and worried about the planet she will grow up in.

Once again, we are at the tipping point. — Antonio M. Claparols, president, Ecological Society of the Philippines

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