If garbage could talk, it would say whew

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

For the first time in many years, no one has tagged garbage as the convenient suspect in the devastating floods that inundated Metro Manila, Luzon, and other parts of the country. And that is because the real culprit had been very obvious. A series of five tropical storms dumped inordinate amounts of rain that precluded any chance for the culprit to be mistaken for someone else.

There was just too much water dumped by Mother Nature for any amount of garbage in waterways to even be considered a factor in the flooding. The ability of garbage to clog or constrict waterways enough to cause flooding is really too limited unless people just want to use garbage as a convenient scapegoat for their own insensitivity, profligacy, inefficiency, and otherwise abuse of nature.

For so many years, people grew cities into concrete jungles, completely depriving the ability of the earth to absorb water. For so many years, people escaping these concrete jungles have stripped the mountains bare to make room for new habitats, thereby eliminating trees and other vegetation that could have sucked up the runoff water instead of rushing all the ways to the lowland communities.

In the meantime, the thirst for fossil fuels to fire up all the engines in cars that people own in their twos and threes, or companies in their fleets goes not only unabated but even more urgent and desperate. Vehicles have become more affordable and easier to own, resulting in even more burning of fuel whose emissions go nowhere else but up into the ozone, messing up the atmospheric heat and cold equations.

Global warming not only means melting polar ice caps and glaciers and therefore more surface water to heat and breed more and stronger storms, it also means eating up the time for recovery and second chances. And yet for so long, and even with such vicious warnings as Yolanda and Ondoy, people still continued making the silly mistake of blaming garbage for clogging and constricting waterways during regular and average flooding.

It is not the garbage, silly. Garbage cannot sink Metro Manila or inundate Luzon in whole or in part. No amount of garbage can withstand the onslaught of rampaging waters strong enough to wash away entire communities. The real culprit is too much water poured over a small corner of the planet in so short a time. This is the handiwork of nature gone haywire. This is the result of global warming. We are seeing climate change in action.

Even more disheartening and terrifying is that we are probably just seeing the beginning, the terrible initial manifestations of a fate that will be mankind's for ages. Worse, global leaders are not united in a truly resolute way to deal with the problem. They talk and gather in conventions and come up with protocols, all nice in the way they sound but actually useless in face of economy-driven pussy-footing.

Unless the world's governments assume greater responsibility for the world's future by assuming realistic proportionate sacrifices between economic gain and development and climate intervention and security, then we can only expect more and more of what cripples us in even more debilitating frequencies. And the only thing people really learn is to finally stop blaming the garbage, giving it pause and perchance to sigh, whew.

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