Where are we going?

By Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos |October 09,2016 - 09:04 PM

The thought of losing one’s parents who are aging or suffering from the ravages of ailment makes one ensure that moments with them are very special. Through little ways from our heart, we want them to feel treasured and loved, and for them to know that we are forever grateful to them for the gifts of life and living and the legacy of embedding cherished values that helped made us who we are and so proud of it.

I still beat myself in the chest, figuratively, of course, every time I remember my fumbling reply to the question that our deeply missed Mama Coring asked repeatedly to me weeks before she passed away.

“Where am I going, Gol?”

Coming from an extraordinary woman who never lost her brilliance and spunk despite the years, I can only muffle, with all the brightness I can muster, a feeble line, “You are not going anywhere, Ma. You will just be here, with us.”

I knew she wanted to talk about moving on but it was I who was not ready for it. And I deeply regret it. The conversation, had I been more receptive and prepared, could have brought in floodgates of her thoughts in her last few days in this world about life, joys, my father and her children, her family, and of course, her transition to a new life.

This personally painful episode brings me back to the question: “Where are we going?”

Scanning the horizon with the persistent yet so ecologically destructive “economy over sustainability” philosophy and now, the inhumanely despicable “war on drugs over human rights” policy, we have to think long term, pause to ask and reflect where all of these will lead to.

The alarming news for our planet is that it has reached 400 parts per million of carbon that at the rate we are on a “business-as-usual” mindset, we will be in for an indefinite period of time. 350.org, an international grass roots movement that got its name from 350 ppm which Dr. James Hansen and other scientist declare is the “safe” level of carbon dioxide, had this to say in the past:

“This March, global levels of CO2 passed 400 parts per million. Although short-term local measurements of 400 ppm have been recorded previously, this marks the first time since record keeping began that CO2 levels were above 400 ppm globally for a month.

“Already we’re seeing the deadly effects of climate change in the form of rising seas, monster storms, wildfires, and extreme weather of all kinds. . . . The safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. The only way to get there is to immediately transition the global economy away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable farming practices.

“…Our dependence on fossil fuels is fundamentally changing the nature of the planet — and it’s time to act.” (http://400.350.org/)

Are we adequately responding to the biggest threat of our lifetime by reducing our fossil fuel dependency, make natural ecosystems more healthy and resilient and our people prepared to cope with the dire impacts of climate change?

While our 2016 national budget is anchored on integrating mechanisms for ecological resiliency and responding to climate change, through budgetary allocation of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pesos, we need to do more. The local initiatives are in spurts and squirts and do not dovetail with our laws and the national budget.

While millions of pesos are set aside from mangroves and coral reef protection and rehabilitation, the dump-and-filling of these fragile and interconnected sea grass, mangroves and coral reefs as marine habitats continue. Appalling is the boast of a project proponent saying that their plan to reclaim is “expandable” to 25 hectares. Imagine our coastal areas and seabed, already degraded from pollution, sedimentation, illegal fishing and facing threats from acidification and coral bleaching, being merely seen as another area for economic “development”.

Whose development? Definitely not the fisherfolk, their families and coastal residents who stand the risk, as others were, of being displaced by the reclamation projects, and all of us, who need strong, healthy and resilient ecosystems to survive.

Destroying them will add to the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and aggravate impacts of climate change.
Is that where we want to go?

Dr. Annmarie Eldering, the Deputy Project Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that “Reaching 400pm is a stark reminder that the world is still not on a track to limit CO2 emissions and therefore climate impacts. We’re still on the ‘business-as-usual’ path, and adding more and more CO2, which will impact the generations ahead of us. Passing this mark should motivate us to advocate for focused efforts to reduce emissions across the globe.”

* * *

Making a loved one feel so happily surprised is a lasting gift by itself. Our daughter, Kitch and Liza to many and Mitch to us, glowed with happiness when she received, on her birthday, a uniquely creative love-filled book of stories, doodles and photos made especially for her by and from my son-in-law, Jo, and loved ones. It was the best birthday gift for her. We thank and appreciate the thoughtfulness of Jo, setting the standards high for all to emulate. Hard act to follow but can be done as he did so well.

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