We have been talking about climate change and global warming for years and the need for the country to prepare to mitigate their harmful effects.
With the heat index hitting the mid 40s in the last few weeks, we are actually experiencing it in real time.
A number of people have died of heat stroke last week and there will be more.
If what we are seeing and experiencing is just the beginning of things to come, the government will need to do more.
As one of the countries that will be most impacted, one would think that enough attention is being given by the government to the problem.
If we look around us, however, it does not seem there is any sense of urgency on the part of government to do anything about the ravages of climate change.
Instead of planting trees which is the cheapest and easiest way to mitigate global warming, open pit mining has now been allowed back after many years of hiatus. Being the most destructive form of mining, this will undoubtedly destroy our remaining forest cover, not to mention the destruction of our mountains which can never be restored.
We just read about the Chinese ship that run aground in the Visayas containing about 55,000 tons of nickel ore.
China seems to be in a hurry to mine all our nickel.
Indonesia, however, requires that mineral ores are processed in the country and do not allow the export of the raw mineral ore.
That way, environmental degradation is kept to the minimum.
We, however, do not care about the long term costs of what we are doing and it’s sad.
Our rivers also continue to be polluted due to lack of laws, poor enforcement or simply people’s ignorance or lack of civic mindedness.
Except for a few rivers in Mindanao and perhaps in Northern Luzon, most of our rivers are already heavily polluted.
This is true for all the rivers in heavily populated areas like the National Capital Region, Region 4-A and Region 3.
That news item about the cleanup of Malabon River wherein dozens of plastic bags full of garbage were retrieved sums up what is regularly happening to our rivers.
There is no sustained effort both nationally and locally to prohibit people from building houses along river banks until it is too late to relocate the informal settlers.
Since their garbage are not being collected and there are no septic tanks, the rivers are their natural garbage dumps and sewer.
How many times has the government tried to clean the Pasig River to no avail? This is because the people living near it and the river’s tributaries continue to dump garbage and use it as sewer.
We applauded the DENR when it undertook the cleanup of Manila Bay.
But unless the national government will lead the cleanup of all the rivers that flows to Manila Bay and support it with sufficient funds, the pollution of the Bay will continue.
The DENR should have gone to the root cause of the pollution which is to clean the rivers flowing towards Manila Bay.
We cannot continue to be cleaning up the beach front along Roxas Boulevard every day due to the polluted water from the Pasig River unless we clean the river.
It is a good thing that San Miguel Corporation is dredging the Pasig and Tullahan Rivers which is somehow helping in the cleanup.
Without the effort, the pollution of these two rivers and the bay area would be a lot worse.
Part of the reason why SMC is doing this, however, is because of its planned freeway project along the Pasig River and the new international airport it is building in Bulacan.
Nonetheless, the government needs to come in and do more because there are certain things only the government can do.
One is preventing the discharge of any waste water in the Pasig River and all the other rivers flowing to Manila Bay.
The local government units where the rivers flow can be tasked for this while the national government can help finance the setting up of water treatment facilities so that only treated water can flow freely to the Bay.
Yes, it will cost a lot of money but there is probably no cheaper way to do it at this time unless all the houses along all waterways can be relocated which perhaps is no longer possible.
At one stage, the government did pause our reliance on coal but unfortunately we went back constructing coal power plants.
One good news which we hope will happen is the planned construction of a huge solar power plant in the country.
It remains to be seen whether the administration will push thru with its plan for nuclear energy by rehabilitating the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
What is apparent is that a lot more needs to be done and we have to start like yesterday.
But there seems to be no strategic thinking on the part of many senior officials. The now mentality is the one prevailing when they should be thinking long term like what will we be leaving to the future generations of Filipinos.
We cannot leave them a country whose environment has been completely degraded.
In the end, doing the right thing is what is needed not like what one official who funded a flood control project worth hundreds of millions in a place that is apparently not prone to flooding.