By Bianca Victoria Fulgencio

Photo credits: Changing by Alisa Singer – – 2021 Alisa

 As children, we are taught to treasure the simple things that matter to us: be gentle with our toys so as to not damage them; handle our comic books with care to avoid ruining them; and guard our favorite teddy bears with our life to keep them safe.

If we were able to cherish and take care of the simple things that mattered to us as kids, why are we not able to protect the simplest thing that matters the most—our planet Earth?

Several studies in recent years have shown the increasing effect of human activities on our environment. The continuous increase in air, water, and land pollution as well as the worsening climate change and global warming have been brought about by modern technology utilized in the engineering and manufacturing industries. As we have grown accustomed to our current non-environment friendly lifestyle, we tend to turn a blind eye time and again to the endless amount of environmental destruction that comes with it. Now, we are forced to face the music and deal with the irreversible consequences of our actions.

According to a new report recently released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the leading body in assessing climate change, the excessive amount of greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere by human activities has led to the warming of the atmosphere, ocean, and land. The report also predicts that the world will reach 1.5°C or even 2°C between 2030 and 2035.

The expected continuous increase in climate change can lead to catastrophic repercussions in several regions of the world, especially in the Philippines. The IPCC’s report braces us for the myriad of events that come our way due to the effects of climate change - from heavy floods and rains to intense heat waves and drought.

The devastating effects of Super Typhoons Rolly and Ullyses back in 2020 were ones our nation hoped to never witness again, but it seems like extreme disasters like these are going to be more frequent in the coming years as these were described as a mere “preview” of what’s to come. A 100-year typhoon will more likely occur once every 50 years or even once every 10 years with the climate’s current state.

Sea levels are also assumed to rise based on the IPCC’s findings, which should be a big concern for our country considering our reclamation projects and numerous coastal communities. Additionally, worsening drought is another event to be feared. Although more intense storms may bring more frequent heavy rainfall, our country is also at risk of experiencing excessive water shortage at different times of the year, which would greatly affect our agriculture sector.

The urban poor of our nation are the most exposed to harm due to climate change. As a warmer world means hotter cities, the poor will become more vulnerable as they will be unable to afford to build strong houses in safe areas or gain access to nutritious food during a shortage, unlike those who are better off.

When asked for a suggested solution, Father Jett Villarin, the executive director of the Manila Observatory, stated, “We need to look more closely at the way we plan our urban spaces,” referring to the kind of infrastructure to build and where, ways to refine drainage systems, and strategies to cool down populations caught in urban-heat islands.

 As Earth has become more and more scarred by the environmental injuries it endures, the outcomes of our actions are expected to be unforgiving. As we continue to turn a blind eye on the destruction we are leaving on our planet, we are forced to pay the price for it sooner than expected. The IPCC’s report states that unless there are instantaneous, far-reaching steps taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it becomes almost impossible to limit global warming.

One may ask themselves: what more can we do?

The answer is simple: let us treat the planet as if it is the toy or teddy bear we had as a child.

Let us be gentle with it and guard it with our lives to keep it safe.

Report source: Rappler, IPCC