Earth Day 2012 Message
Kaangkan Park, Marikina City
April 21, 2012
Allow me to thank everyone for coming here today to take part in our celebration of Earth Day 2012. I am particularly grateful to the City Government of Marikina for hosting this event, and to the Department of Natural Resources and the Sangguniang Kabataan National Federation for partnering with Luntiang Pilipinas in this initiative.
This tree planting activity is one small step for a greater purpose. The Earth Day Network has recorded more than 12 million acts of green from the Philippines, noting the country’s various environmental programs including massive tree plantings, water conservation projects, coastal clean-ups, recycling drives and school greenings.1
The clean and green projects, beautification programs, and other related activities that many of our local government units have been undertaking for years are no longer merely community concerns. These actions are vital instruments in combating climate change.
To many, climate change remains an esoteric concept that is best left for the experts and scientists to handle. We ourselves have probably not internalized climate change, to think of it as part of our everyday life. Yet the truth is, from the time we wake up to the time we get to work and then back to our homes, our activities affect climate change. As individuals and members of our respective communities, we shape the phenomenon that is climate change. This is a reality that we must begin to understand and take seriously because it translates into a huge responsibility on our part.
We have to make climate change adaptation part of our daily living and there is no better way other than practicing the low-carbon lifestyle. The Environmental Studies Institute of the Miriam College has given a simpler explanation of this way of life. Low-carbon lifestyle is the conscious effort by individuals and communities to change their daily routine and practices to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to create carbon dioxide sinks. The aggregate of these individual and community efforts will considerably mitigate climate change. Learning how to manage our local resources will eventually lead to the sustainability of our country. Ultimately, the objective is to help the world manage its ecological assets more judiciously so that humanity can live within the Earth’s limitations.
The kind of food we eat, the mode of transportation we take, the generation and our use of energy, our waste management practices, our housing design and materials, and our water consumption, all contribute to carbon dioxide emission. We have to make that crucial step of changing our mindset in making our daily choices. Climate change impacts must figure in our decision-making, no matter how big or small.
Let us begin with our food choices. Food that comes from distant places utilizes more energy for transportation and preservation, resulting to greater carbon emission. Low-carbon living recommends patronizing local, plant-based, and in-season foods. Communities can also try to be self-sufficient by producing local food and organic fertilizers, as well as promote home-based food industries.
Second is our mode of transportation. We should start venturing into transport electrification and energy efficiency. Walking, biking, taking public transport, and carpooling are energy and cost-efficient transport modes that we should always consider whenever possible. Local government units should therefore make roads pedestrian-friendly. Sidewalks and bicycle lanes should also be built to encourage use of these modes of transport.
Third is our use of energy. We must economize on energy consumption and shift to indigenous and renewable energy sources. The Philippines has the necessary natural resources to develop indigenous renewable sources of energy, such as mini hydro-powered dams, solar, wind, and geothermal. The Renewable Energy Act provides an impetus to explore seriously these sources and enhance the ones already in existence. At home, traditional energy conservation measures remain relevant: use low-wattage appliances, unplug electronics when not in use, and other similar practices.
Fourth is our waste management. We should strive for a zero waste economy where the output of each resource use is converted into input for another use. We must also practice waste segregation at the source and compost biodegradable wastes. In the community, we should set up a material recovery facility and collection system in barangay or community-level Ecology Centers. Likewise, we can develop livelihood programs using recycled waste materials.
Fifth is our housing design and materials. Green building designs significantly reduce demand for energy, water, and materials through ecologically sensitive citing, design, and maintenance practices. It can generate up to 30% in energy savings, reduce carbon emissions by 35%, decrease water use by 30-50% and save 50-90% in wastewater cost.
The community can start adopting green building designs for public facilities and promote the “bahay kubo” concept that utilizes indigenous building materials surrounded by vegetables and fruit trees. As much as possible, the community layout must balance green spaces with population density.
Sixth is our water consumption. Water consumed in our households requires energy for transport and conversion to potable use. Household water use also competes with requirements for irrigation and fish and wildlife habitat. To address this, we can easily adopt practices like gathering and storing rainwater for daily chores. In the community, water recycling facilities and rain collection systems can be built. Existing local water distribution systems must be properly maintained and watershed areas must be protected and rehabilitated.
Finally, we must create carbon sinks. Our diminishing forest cover and urban green spaces have lessened the absorptive capacity of the Earth for carbon dioxide. We need to protect our natural forests and regenerate our green environment. We must plant more trees, even in urban areas. The community must lead efforts to protect natural forests, preserve old trees, undertake rainforestation and tree planting, create forest parks in every barangay, and promote and preserve green spaces in the built-up environment.
These are the broad strokes that outline low-carbon living. This kind of lifestyle does not demand much from us; it only requires both individual and community effort. In all other aspects, it has every bit of potential to become second nature to us.
We can always participate in events similar to this tree planting activity we have. We in Luntiang Pilipinas would very well appreciate your support and active involvement in joining our cause to address our country’s environmental problems. We have already established hundreds of forest parks with more than two million trees nationwide and we will continue to fulfill our role in the decades to come. But our commitment to save our planet and contribute to the sustainability of our nation will be best demonstrated when we make it our way of life, and there is no better day to begin than today. Let us all make low-carbon living our way of life.
A pleasant Earth Day to everyone. Thank you.