Failing to protect ‘Our Common Home’

September 7, 2021

As a continuing reflection from the question, “A home for all?”, the question is actually giving us a clue that our home is owned only by a few. 

In the language of the ‘occupation movement’ only by the 1 percent, mostly composed of industrialists, investors, taipans, and politicians. 

The unending greed will actually make us homeless. Without nature, a total abandonment of life—the destruction of our planet.

The politics of climate commitment

Among the many solutions, climate convention is supposed to be a key towards establishing a coherent commitment of countries to address environmental degradation. 

Sadly, it failed again and again. No post-Paris Agreement plan, after all, it was all icing on the cake.

“Eventually the public pressure was too much. You have the world’s eyes on you, so you started to act. Not acting as in taking climate action, but acting as in role-playing. Playing politics, playing with words, and playing with our future. Pretending to take responsibility – acting as saviors as you try to convince us that things are being taken seriously. Meanwhile, the gap between your rhetoric and reality keeps growing wider and wider,” said Greta Thunberg during the 2021 Austrian World Summit. Definitely, the rhetoric of politics never provided a convincing platform for taking action for the environment. 

In a matter of months, COP26 will commence in Glasgow, again, predictably with a bleak result. The theme remains a rephrasing of clouded commitment on climate: Uniting the world to tackle climate change. 

Still, the many strands of ‘climate conventions’ failed to stop the aggressive behaviors of environmental ‘criminals’; mining remains among the top culprits of environmental destruction.

What we can learn from scientific findings

Science truly emboldens our environmental struggles, providing us undeniable facts of the consequences of our environmental impacts; both ‘smaller’ and ‘bigger’ ones.

We cannot deny science, as many world leaders do; and as many local leaders would not want to consider.

In reality, scientific findings enable governments to prepare for destructive and disastrous impacts on our lived planet. Lately, we have seen the flooding in Germany, the droughts in the global south, and the continuing forest fires. And yet, we continue questioning, why are our governments still unprepared?

In a reference to the recent IPCC Working Group 1 Report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement: “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.” 

Destruction on the ground

The unending destructive corporate ownership of terrestrial bodies has exacerbated the destruction of our planet; and for many years, this is not on the radar among our environmental institutions, or they are simply covering their eyes. 

People on the ground and organizations are organizing protests everywhere. In the city of Dumaguete, in Negros island, the people are opposing the reclamation project approved by the city council by reclamation project of the remaining protected coastal area. 

Scientists who are locally based issued a common statement against the project: “The project will directly destroy, literally bury, the few remaining coral reefs, seagrass, and soft-sediment ecosystems that support small-scale fisheries and gleaning in Dumaguete.” 

The many reclamation projects in the country indeed have been employed by local leaders as a kind of barometer for development, without even considering the glaring destruction of the impacts on local biodiversity.

The current Duterte government’s build, build, build approach on development, is the face of programmatic destruction of our Philippine environment: roads built around protected areas, favoring capitalists business enterprises in the mining industry at the expense of forests and indigenous communities, and other projected plans for coal and nuclear plants. 

In the words of Pope Francis: “The colonizing interests that have continued to expand – legally and illegally – the timber and mining industries, and have expelled or marginalized the indigenous peoples, the river people and those of African descent, are provoking a cry that rises up to heaven…” (Querida Amazonia, 9)

What we are hoping for

We hope for church communities to be able to mobilize against destructive methods of development affecting nature and people.

We hope for people to strengthen solidarity among diverse groups to oppose the destructive methods employed by even local politicians, destroying protected areas in the name of development.

We hope for a consistent voice and action/s from among our local bishops, supporting even the credible voices of local leaders in the grassroots.

A home for all. We dare say, let us reclaim our Earth, our common home. 

Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR is a Filipino Laudato Si’ reader. A member of Pusyon Kinaiyahan, an environmental group in the Visayas. Currently based in Germany as a member of PCPR-Europe, working for the Philippine campaigns related to the protection of human rights.

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