Ask any class of school children who are steeped in knowledge and experience of the natural world, that have been on many field trips to the forests and the sea, and have seen numerous documentaries on wildlife and the challenges and harm being done to our planet- what they want to do or be when they grow up? Many will cry out, “To guard the animals”, “to protect the forest”, “to care for the planet.”
We see and admire and ought to join the thousands of school children like Greta Thunberg marching for climate justice and protection of the natural world. When climate activists call out “save the panda” or “save the elephant,” they are in fact saying, “save the planet.” That is because all life on earth is threatened by the mighty force of climate change, the rapid charge towards the extinction of species as a result of human activity, over population and the insane “conquest of nature” desire among humans. The world’s population is projected to reach eight billion on 15 November 2022. In 2030, it will be 9.7 billion. In 2050, it will be 10.4 billion people, all putting greater demand on the planet’s resources.
The planet has warmed up by 1.2 degrees Celsius in the past 150 years or so, which cannot be ignored since our stocks of freshwater fish has declined by 83 percent overall and the oceans have warmed up three years in a row since 2021. Many fish species can’t survive. We are killing off our food supply by warming the planet and over-fishing. Eventually, all could be gone. This and more disturbing revelations according to a new shocking report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Nature backed by 89 specialists and scientists.
We cannot deny the truth of science any longer and not take global action that the children and environmentalists call for. The UN should sequester huge areas of ocean as non-fishing areas since only 15 percent of ocean is presently protected but it is not enforced. Ocean levels are rising fast as the polar ice caps are melting quicker than first predicted. Rising ocean levels will quickly inundate low-lying coastal areas as it now covers large parts of South Pacific islands.
Coastal Philippine towns and cities, including Manila, will be threatened by drastic year-round floods by 2030 or sooner, making parts of Manila a new Venice by 2050. Property values will plunge and investing in gondolas will be a good move. The children see and learn faster about the danger to the flowers and insects, the plants and trees, the animals, fish and creatures of all kinds. They learn how beneficial, wonderful, beautiful and important the creatures and plants are to each other, supporting and helping each to survive and thrive. It’s a wonderful world that we must understand and cherish as children do, before it is gone.
The humming bird with its long, pointed beak can only get the nectar deep in the special trumpet-shaped flower of the orchid. Its sweet nectar is tasty to the hummingbird only, not to bees. The bird, when drinking the nectar, is coated with male pollen and carries it to the next flower and pollination takes place. Many species have similar cooperation. They have mysteriously co-evolved or co-adapted with each other for mutual peaceful survival. What a wonderful world we live in that is now fast disappearing.
If only the human species would have a similar relationship with the natural world and each other and realize that humans need to respect all living things and live in harmony and recognize their mutual dependence. We don’t, we just destroy it with more construction, cutting forests, making plantations, building more dams and coal-fired power plants.
Unlike adults, many children have learned the truth about our natural world. They see that it is under grave threat from climate change and that thousands of species are near extinction. Humans pollute the atmosphere with CO2 by burning coal and fossil fuels and this in turn is devastating all species. It is disastrous to the planet, causing severe changes in rainfall in many places like Somalia and Sudan. Millions of impoverished people, women and children, have nothing to eat and are facing famine and death due to drought as you read this. The climate change caused by burning fossil fuels non-stop is killing people, too.
So, why have we humans lost our love for the wonders of nature, the flowers, trees and animals? We ignore our dependence on nature and continue to destroy it without concern but for the cries of the child campaigners and adult advocates fighting for a clean planet and to restore the climate balance? The truth cannot be ignored. We have to act to change our dependence on fossil fuels and turn to more renewable sources of energy to stop global warming. As a result, the world’s wildlife populations dropped to an all time low by an average of 69 percent between 1970 and 2018, the WWF reported.
Populations of almost every animal on earth, except rats, ants and cockroaches, have collapsed. Humans are capable of great achievements and if set out to save the world’s species of animals, they can if it is not too late. There have been successes: tigers with protection have increased in number and the lovable panda have increased by 20 percent, thanks to conservation. Wild brown bears, boars, wolves, and white-tailed eagles are increasing in numbers in Europe but are far fewer than 60 years ago.
In the Philippines, conservationists are doing great work in trying to preserve the ecosystem against loggers and destructive mining that destroys the remaining scraps of forest that are home to the remaining Philippine wildlife. There is great biodiversity here but many species are endangered and need protection such as the Philippine Eagle and Crocodile, Walden’s hornbill, the Visayan Warty pig, the tarsier, forest turtles, rare Negros pidgins and other animals, all near extinction. Corporations should adopt more of these birds and animals and support their survival through environmental groups and conservation groups.
We all should be protecting nature and campaigning to the government to turn to wind farms, solar power and geothermal sources of electrical power generation and end coal-fired power plants and never consider nuclear power. President BongBong Marcos could be the savior of the Philippine environment and biodiversity if he did change the Philippines to 90 percent renewable energy sourcing. He must be strong-minded and never fall under the control of cronies and industrialists who are out to influence and bribe the government to enrich themselves.
The natural world, a balanced climate, its environment of trees, rivers, lakes and oceans, is all we have to sustain human life. Protecting it and all life is our claim to being a civilized, cultured people respecting rights. We can win against evil by sharing this planet with all species, showing dignity and love to all life forms. Positive action is what we need to save the planet and its biodiversity before the greedy and powerful people without conscience or concern extinguish and destroy it.
Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in the Philippines in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of OeconoMedia.