by Maxine Andrea Garcia
I used to think of climate change as something that was simple and that was in the future. I don’t really remember how this perception was formed but I think it is because of all the movies, the environmental hype and because of heresay. I knew that temperatures were rising and the weather was changing and I thought that that was all to it. Also, everyone around me spoke of climate change as something in the future and thus I never felt any sense of urgency for this phenomenon. The lecture on climate change caused a huge shift in my perception of the topic. I was still stuck at the “prevention stage” thinking that if we do enough for the environment we could prevent it but I learned that this was not the case. Instead, I must now think in terms of delaying and adapting to climate change not preventing it.
Climate change is not anymore a thing of the future but a concern of the present because we already feel some of its effects. We feel the rise in temperatures, the shift in weather patterns, the storms and the droughts and these effects happening now are more disastrous than I imagined. Climate change affects so many factors in our lives besides the weather. It has grave economical, geographical and social implications to our country. Today, the drought is costing us millions of pesos worth of crops. As sea level rises, usable land will get less and less while population is most likely to continue to increase. These effects and many more will of course affect the Filipino people. Homes, lives belongings and livelihood may be lost due to these effects. In order to start dealing with it, we must start to factor in climate change into our everyday common decisions.
Because we live in the Philippines, which is considered a country of high vulnerability to climate change we must in turn respond in terms of preparedness and adaptability of the same level. As an individual, I realized that I am unaware of the true situation of climate change and its specific effects. Considering that I am a science major studying at a university, I would think that I should have been aware of this. How much more non-science majors or out of school youth, or those with no access to education or technology. There is a big possibility that most Filipinos have the same frame of mind regarding climate change as I did before the lecture. This is indeed a frightening thought because it implies that as a people we are not at all prepared for climate change. In my opinion, the Philippines as a country is not prepared for climate change. The government is not equipped to deal with its effects as seen in the past typhoons and drought and it has many other national issues that are deemed “more important and pressing” than the environment. Economically, we cannot afford the losses caused by droughts, typhoons or loss of usable land. Thus, with that conclusion, we must begin preparing ourselves fro climate change.
I think that our response to climate change involves three things: awareness, delay, and preparedness or adaptation. First and most important would be awareness. People must be made aware of the true situation and effects of climate change in our country. How can one prepare for or delay something they know not of? Awareness would also result hopefully in unifying the country against climate change. Once awareness has been established delaying climate change would work hand in hand with preparing ourselves and adapting to the changes that come. Delaying climate change involves caring for the environment so as to slow down climate change. Preparing and adapting involves personal changes in our routines or habits as well as conscious decision-making. As we start to recognize these environmental changes, we can adapt accordingly. Climate change is indeed a threat to human health and safety and thus concrete action must be taken in order to ensure the preservation of the human race.
As with most things, I think that the actions to be taken occur at different organizational levels or levels of influence. It first begins with the individual. The individual, me, must continue educate herself on climate change so that she can continue to act towards delaying preparing for and adapting to it. As an individual, I can delay climate change by reducing my carbon footprint. Simple everyday actions and decisions can be made like recycling, segregating, conserving water and energy at home; also, choosing to walk over taking a car or killing the car engine while waiting for companions. I must adapt and work to change my lifestyle into a more environmentally friendly one. At home, I will assemble my own disaster kit so that I will be prepared for any natural disaster that may arise.
All these actions influence the second level of organization or influence which is my community which includes my friends, family and all those in my circle of influence. In terms of awareness, I can personally bring up climate change in conversations by using “Did you know that…?” as a means of spreading information and I can also input in discussions regarding choosing a location to build a house or business plans to make sure that they also take into consideration climate change in making those decisions. Also, with all the hype social networking sites are getting nowadays, I can use this to my advantage in letting others know about climate change. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs can be used. I can upload informative pictures and posts in order to increase awareness especially among the youth. As a science major, I feel I can adequately explain the scientific side of climate change to my friends and family and how to deal with some of its effects now.
The next organizational level would be of the country. With the 2010 elections coming soon, I, as a registered voter, will elect into office someone who integrates environmental concerns into his or her platforms. The country is in need of someone who can guide the people to change. Social, economic and environmental change must be strived for hand in hand. As I have learned in lecture, we are considered of high vulnerability because of factors including governance issues, haphazard development, poor urban planning, overpopulation, and poverty. All these in my opinion fall under government responsibility thus I must vote wisely and responsibly. Lastly, a worldwide response is needed. I can take part by participating in worldwide events like Earth Hour as well as supporting international companies that are involved in “green” business.
In conclusion, climate change is happening now and will continue to worsen over the years. Because we feel its effects today, there is also no day but today to act upon it. We must make ourselves and others aware so that we can all be ready for the implications of climate change’s effects and adapt accordingly. As long as the response is echoed through all the levels of influence and organization, the human race will survive the natural phenomenon of climate change.