Life and the Environment – Part 2

STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - May 18, 2021 - 12:00am

I mentioned two news reports last week, both related to the theme Life and the Environment. The first one was about the feud over the proposed “mega vaccination site” on Nayong Pilipino land in Manila. General Carlito Galvez Jr. deemed it inappropriate for the Nayong Filipino Foundation to equate the fate of 500 ipil-ipil trees with Filipino lives. Apparently, they’re bent on pushing for it without even a discussion on very substantial issues affecting the environment.

The other one was about Miss Luisa Neubauer of Germany. She’s a 25-year-old environmental activist who filed a suit against the German government on the issues affecting climate change and how it will unduly affect her future. She’s one of the many young people now who are coming out to defend their future against the possible wrong decisions of those “adults” holding the reins of governments today. And their plea is for today’s generation to respect theirs, and their future. And they're winning.

This is not new to us in the Philippines if one remembers our friend, lawyer Tony Oposa, who took the same theme and won a few years back. In essence, what the children of today claim, is that they have the right to ensure that their future remains unaffected by the acts of the older people today. Whether we like it or not, everything that we do today will have grave consequences on the future generations. Well, it might be for their own good, but certainly it might also rob them of a future. And more often than not, it’s the negative consequences that prevails in our present actions now.

Luisa Neubauer’s petition is not unique – it’s being increasingly done all over the world. These involve claims that future generations have a right to live in a world that is not destroyed by the climate crisis. In many countries in the world, young people argue that the world’s governments are failing to have a concrete plan to reduce emissions beyond 2030, which would then make their lives more difficult. People today won’t be there to confront the negative impact of climate change, the youth of today will be. Those who make today’s decisions won’t get affected by the catastrophic situations of global warming. Our children will!

Many leaders of today, mature as they are, are actually antagonistic to decisive actions on climate change. Many are reluctant to follow or even implement many of the conditions of the Paris Agreement in reducing carbon emissions. And the reason for this is we often simply live for today “and let tomorrow take care of itself.” It has already been forewarned that a two-degree increase in the world's average temperature will make future generations suffer. We sometimes think, “Yehey, I will be long gone when that happens!” But how about our children? Can we afford to leave them behind to suffer the consequences of our acts which we could have made better?

Fortunately, the Germany Supreme Court sided with Neubauer. But that’s just one case in one country. What about ours in the Philippines? What about us? Do we care for our children’s future?

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