We have just celebrated Earth Day this April 22 (Monday) to remind us that we have to put extra effort in caring for our environment. Earth is still the only livable planet in this universe, and at the rate we are abusing the use of its resources, we might end up with a dying planet and nowhere else to go. The terrible heat that we are presently experiencing, the frequent earthquakes, the floods and landslides are just reminders that we have to embark on a plan to be more earth conscious.


For starters, the power crisis which our region is presently facing may lead people to tap other sources of energy other than the hydro-electric and thermal energy provided to the Mindanao Grid. Apparently, the supply of energy is not enough for the Grid because many areas in Mindanao experience power brownouts, while cities supplied by the reliable diesel and gasoline are saved from this debacle.


But how long will the reserves of fossil fuels last? Will coal be a good alternative? Should we gamble on nuclear energy just like Japan and other nations? These sources are fast depleted, and are not environment friendly. The bottomline is to use renewable sources of energy – hydro electric, thermal, solar energy. These are cheap and the supply is endless unless our rivers and springs dry up. Furthermore, the sun is still there, ready to be tapped anytime. But the present needs of people far outweigh the technology and investments on renewable energy. Urbanization demands more supply of electricity for factories, and other amenities of urban life like air conditioning, elevators, washing machines, radio/TV, electric fans and many more. Shouldn’t we go back to rural life where the use of electricity is minimal?


In our quest for development, we are changing the face of the earth. We flatten mountains, destroy forests, reclaim shores and wetlands. Our flora and fauna in this region has moved from endangered to extinct. With the erratic weather resulting from climate change, heavy rains soften the once formidable mountains leading to landslides; large waves (especially tsunamis) destroy built up reclaimed areas because the breakers are no longer there to protect the shores; and wetlands like the Liguasan Marsh are turned into wide lakes, flooding residential areas along rivers and streams. The absence of the marsh also eliminates the natural cleaning of water from the mountains, thus bringing the silt and other waste to the rivers. Reclamation destroys the mangroves and the corrals which support aquatic life.


Many people think that climate change only affects the atmosphere. Our experience shows that it has far reaching consequences. Increase in temperature, erratic weather conditions, increase frequency of earthquakes are only a few of its consequences. Since climate change has been traced to our increasing pollution of the atmosphere and emission of greenhouse gases, the move must start within us.


It’s a sad future scenario to see the earth no longer capable of contributing to life. Barren mountains, lifeless rivers, empty shores. We have to avoid this by changing our lifestyle and development thrusts. We owe it to this planet that has supported us for so long.


Eva Kimpo-Tan is the editor-in-chief of The Mindanao Cross, the oldest Catholic weekly in the southern Philippines.