ASK any class of school children who are steeped in knowledge and experience of the natural world, who have made many excursions into forests and the sea, and who have seen many documentaries about wildlife and the challenges and the damage done to our planet, what they want to do or be when they grow up? Many will shout: “To keep the animals”, “to protect the forest”, “to take care of the planet”.
We see and admire and should join the thousands of school children like Greta Thunberg marching for climate justice and the protection of the natural world. When climate activists shout “save the panda” or “save the elephant”, they are actually saying “save the planet”. Indeed, all life on Earth is threatened by the mighty force of climate change, the rapid charge towards species extinction due to human activity, overpopulation and humans’ insane desire to “conquer nature”. The world population is expected to reach 8 billion on November 15, 2022. In 2030, it will be 9.7 billion. By 2050, that will be 10.4 billion people, all of which are demanding more of the planet’s resources.
The planet has warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius over the past 150 years or so, which cannot be ignored as our freshwater fish stocks globally have declined by 83% and the oceans have warmed three years on since 2021. Many species of fish cannot survive. We are killing our food supply by heating the planet and overfishing. Eventually, everything could disappear. This and more disturbing revelations according to a shocking new report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for nature backed by 89 experts and scientists.
We can no longer deny the truth of science and fail to take the global action that children and environmentalists are calling for. The UN should sequester large swathes of ocean as no-take zones since only 15% of the ocean is currently protected. Sea levels are rising rapidly as polar ice caps are melting faster than expected. Rising sea levels will quickly flood low-lying coastal areas, as they now cover large parts of the South Pacific islands.
Coastal cities in the Philippines, including Manila, will be threatened by drastic flooding year-round by 2030 or earlier, making parts of Manila a new Venice by 2050. Property values will plummet and investing in gondolas will be a good decision. Children see and learn faster the danger to flowers and insects, plants and trees, animals, fish and creatures of all kinds. They learn how beneficial, wonderful, beautiful, and important creatures and plants are to each other, supporting and helping each other survive and thrive. It is a wonderful world that we must understand and cherish like children do, before it disappears.
The hummingbird with its long pointed beak can only get the nectar from deep inside the orchid’s special trumpet-shaped flower. Its sweet nectar is only tasty for the hummingbird, not the bees. The bird, drinking the nectar, is covered 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 to each other for peaceful mutual survival. What a wonderful world we live in and one that is rapidly disappearing.
If only the human species had a similar relationship with the natural world and each other and realized that humans should respect all living beings and live in harmony and recognize their mutual dependence. We don’t, we just destroy it with more construction, cutting down forests, planting, building more dams and coal-fired power plants.
Unlike adults, many children have learned the truth about our natural world. They note that it is seriously threatened by climate change and that thousands of species are close to extinction. Humans pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide by burning coal and fossil fuels, which in turn devastates all species. It is disastrous for the planet, causing severe changes in rainfall in many places like Somalia and Sudan. Millions of poor people, women and children, have nothing to eat and face starvation and death from drought as you read this. Climate change caused by the uninterrupted burning of fossil fuels is also killing people.
So why have we humans lost our love for the wonders of nature, flowers, trees and animals? We ignore our dependence on nature and continue to destroy it regardless of the cries of child activists and adult advocates fighting for a clean planet and restoring climate balance? The truth cannot be ignored. We must act to change our dependence on fossil fuels and turn to more renewable energy sources to stop global warming. As a result, global wildlife populations have plummeted to an all-time low of 69% on average between 1970 and 2018, WWF reported.
Populations of nearly every animal on earth except rats, ants and cockroaches have crashed. Humans are capable of great accomplishments and if they set out to save the animal species of the world, they can if it is not too late. There have been successes: protected tigers have increased in number and the population of the adorable panda has also increased by 20%, thanks to conservation. Wild brown bears, wild boars, wolves and white-tailed eagles are increasing in Europe, but they are much lower than 60 years ago.
In the Philippines, conservationists are doing a great job trying to preserve the ecosystem from loggers and destructive mining that destroys the remnants of forest that are home to the remaining Philippine wildlife. There is great biodiversity here, but many species are endangered and in need of protection such as the Philippine eagle and crocodile, Walden’s hornbill, Visayan warty pig, tarsier, turtles forests, the rare Negro pidgins and other animals, all near extinction. Companies should adopt more of these birds and animals and support their survival through environmental and conservation groups.
We should all protect nature and campaign to urge the government to turn to wind farms, solar energy and geothermal sources of electricity generation and end coal-fired power plants and never consider energy nuclear. President Marcos could be the savior of the Philippines’ environment and biodiversity if he moves the Philippines to 90% renewable energy supply. He must be strong-minded and never fall under the control of cronies and industrialists who seek 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 support human life. Protecting it and all life is our claim to be a civilized, cultured and rights-respecting people. We can defeat 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 greedy and powerful people without conscience or care extinguish it and destroy it.