By Dorothy Jane B. del Rosario
Let me paint you a gruesome picture: Maybe 30 to 50 years from now, most of our trees would have been replaced by infrastructure. One day, we might have to breathe from oxygen tanks and the only way to live is for us to have power and privilege. Apocalypse begins. Is this even possible? Think about it.
Research shows that between 1990 and 2005, almost 32.3 percent of the Philippines’ forest cover has been lost. Illegal logging has become widespread throughout the country, yet no one seems to have noticed it.
Given the increasingly frantic pace of life, we the youth tend to look at immediate things: How many likes would we get on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or so. We don’t realize how crucial it is to think about far-reaching things like saving the planet. Instead we mull over what we see and what’s right in front of us. We have lost our innate ability to care about the natural world. We feel small and powerless to believe that we, individually can make a big difference.
Let me give you this one metaphor: Think of the things happening around us like a bag of popcorn in a microwave oven. Heat is emitted at the first minute but it’s not evident yet. However, when we reach the second minute, the kernel starts to do its thing. This situation can be compared to the extreme weather events that have been happening from then until now—signals of climate change, signals that we should open our eyes!
Subsequently, it is said that if we were to stop emissions, we would see drastically increased temperatures in succeeding years. At this moment, if we were to be engaged and involved in this dilemma, we could still make a difference.
Thirty years ago, the potentially disruptive impact of heat—trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels and rainforests became known. However, this kind of warning is still not enough for people to be convinced that if we don’t do anything now, worst-case scenarios can happen, and we are vulnerable.
We can help empower the youth and be proactive. In our generation, information spreads fast—often like a virus. What if we take on this challenge to save the environment and make that challenge viral as well? If these influencers can produce content to earn money, why can’t we do the same to make a difference? We can get the youth to be more informed, involved and engaged.
Plant trees? Ditch your car? Take shorter showers? What other challenges can you think of? These can also spread and people might be informed and get involved through this. Once we all get to know our shared vulnerability, we could open our eyes and see what things we can do to improve our environment.
We cannot just close our eyes and hope for the best. It’s not just having the motivation and perseverance, or to use one’s voice to let the youth be involved. This paradigm shift will only take place—if and only if we chose to take on this change, open our eyes, and see what awaits us in the future. What’s right in front of us now is the power to respond and take individual action—before we pay a steep price.
Dorothy Jane del Rosario from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila is the winner of the first #MSIntegriTree Essay Writing Contest.