The Time When the Whole World Couldn’t Breathe Happily: It’s Now

I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime. I thought that it was something that’s far away in the future. I thought that the environmental scientists were merely exaggerating their numbers. I thought that my kids wouldn’t have to see it. But it’s upon us now. And slowly, it is creeping on our doorsteps. 

But before all that, let’s get back to my little garden. As I clutched at the strands of the grass and pulled their roots, I heard the distant rumbling of power-saws in the distance. I thought to myself that it’s about 75 to 150 meters away. I was hearing 3 motors. They were cutting trees again on a Sunday which was for me a rest day. Here where I live, cutting trees is how some people make a living. After all, the city is rapidly urbanizing in the same way that the rest of congested Metro Manila is. I predicted rapid urbanization here where I am within 5 years but now, I’m cutting that down to two years. Thousands of trees have been felled and yet no one is raising a hoot.

Who the hell cares about trees anyway?

Apparently, only me.

My local situation is merely a vibrant and all too real reflection of what’s going on all over the country and the world. My older neighbors who have been used to subsistence farming have offspring that are now brandishing tablet PCs and cellphones. When I come across them, I can merely remark that hey, that’s a nice phone. Some of their parents may have bought these phones by selling a dozen trees or so.

Ironically, November is clean air month where our local Mayor is engaged in a tree planting campaign but only for the middle class inside gated subdivisions and communities. This while the rape and plunder of nature runs rife here where I live.

Smog in China, Moscow, Manila, the US and more

One cannot simply understate that rapid urbanization and vapid deforestation is changing the world in a manner of years now and not decades as was earlier predicted. We are now having stronger typhoons and storms that affect tens of thousands. We are seeing strange weather patterns that our generation and the ones before us have never seen before in their lifetimes. It’s happening on a global scale and yet most of us are still blinded by our incessant need to consume, buy, buy and buy.

Have you ever seen an entire city shutdown because of smog?

It has happened in China where a city of 11 million has been shutdown recently due to high volumes of air pollution. The picture in this Reuters article shows people in face masks biking in Daqing, Heilongjiang province last October 31, 2013.

Amazon Deforestation

The numbers are stark. The deforestation of the Amazon has reached more than 28% last year which brought back 2007 numbers. (BBC.co.uk) It is a fragile balance disturbed. The balance of man’s inexhaustible greed and need against the preservation of nature’s balance. It would seem that nature takes a lower priority now.

The Future

Nobody can predict exactly what will happen 20 years in the future and we humans have been known for our short-sighted nature when it comes down to it. Locally, the people need to cut trees because it makes them a lot of money to provide for their children’s needs. Elsewhere, deforestation is needed in order to move or relocate vast numbers of people from urban centers which are now horribly clogged. The signs are there but we continue to ignore them or maybe choose to ignore them to fulfill our immediate needs.

As I shout amid the howling winds where nobody can hear me, I think about my children and their children and about what they have to face in the future amid all of these. There is very little I can do, except protect our own trees which are all situated in private land. This past month, I have been approached by these loggers continuously and if they continue to do so, I will name them publicly. In all the times they have approached me, I have said ‘no’. The only time I acceded to their wants is when some trees needed to be felled due to its location.

Sometimes I also think about the ingenuity of man’s inventive nature. Maybe, there will come a day when air filters will be sophisticated and affordable enough to not only purify air but also be able to artificially convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.

Until then, we can only hold our breaths as we watch this apocalyptic drama unfold slowly right in front of our eyes, while we hold our children’s hands.

 

 

 

 

Creative Commons Image of Moscow Smog via Flickr

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