How to save the Philippines and the planet

by Fr. Shay Cullen

UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland | Photo by Dati Bendo via Wikimedia Commons

This is not a happy article. It can’t be because the truth is that we live in a sad and tough world where the super-rich and powerful politicians own and manipulate the world economy, the financial markets, and, above all, the energy sector. They have us ordinary people subjected to their power and decisions. Putin can decide to stop the export of Ukrainian grain again and start and end famine in Africa. He can stop a war but will not.

The UN and Turkey forced him to allow the grain to be shipped. His autocratic order to call up young people to fight his war in Ukraine has been met with resistance. Thousands have been arrested for protesting.

In the Philippines and elsewhere on the planet, there are challenges of climate change where immediate action is needed by government and business tycoons. The words of Pope Francis in Manila are challenging and inspiring. “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.” —Speech, Manila, Philippines, January 18, 2015.

We should also heed the dire message of the Secretary General of the United Nations. He has spoken forcibly and recently with a message we all must take to heart to save the planet from catastrophe.

“At least half of all climate finance and climate resilience should go to adaptation and climate resilience, to protect people and economies. Unless action is taken now, unless funds are disbursed now, these tragedies will simply multiply, with devastating consequences for years to come, including instability and mass migration around the world.”

The remarks challenge us in the Philippines and our local communities to act together to protect and save the environment. It is primarily addressed to government officials and their friends in the energy business to have a lively conscience, a love of your neighbor and the nation, the people, the poor, and the planet.

You in power have a great responsibility to help remedy the Philippines’ and the world’s problems by a historical and long-lasting decision to implement plans to invest in and install renewable energy sources, add more wind turbines and solar power fields, and start to reduce coal-burning power stations in the Philippines.

That is the path to greatness. That is the achievement that will win the gratitude of a nation. You will not be remembered for the vast amount of money you accumulated (unless it is from wrongdoing) and donated to charity, nor will you be remembered and honored for using political power unless it is abused and violates human rights. Yet, to make the Philippines energy self-sufficient is a feat that will be remembered.

“The challenge for you, leaders of industry and political dynasties, is to use your economic and political power to reach significant Philippine energy self-sufficiency goals within 20 years. Every island and every region could have its independent power grid based on renewable energy.”

The challenge for you, leaders of industry and political dynasties, is to use your economic and political power to reach significant Philippine energy self-sufficiency goals within 20 years. Every island and every region could have its independent power grid based on renewable energy. It will save the nation from adverse climate change and economic disaster. Pope Francis told us a profound truth, “May the relationship between man and nature not be driven by greed, to manipulate and exploit, but may the divine harmony between beings and creation be conserved in the logic of respect and care.”—General audience, Vatican City, April 22, 2015.

Your primary goal is to avoid corruption and self-serving rule. To be a true leader, you must serve others, not yourself. Many fake and failed leaders have come and gone, and their exuberant empty promises were political lies. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Our world is blighted by war, battered by climate chaos, scarred by hate, and shamed by poverty, hunger, and inequality. Conflicts and unrest continue to rage. The war in Ukraine is devastating a country — and dragging down the global economy”.

International tycoons in the global oil and gas industries are making billions of dollars out of the global warming crisis that causes non-stop disasters. The government officials, some climate deniers, and money moguls that promote investment in the fossil fuel industries must be denied access to funds and consigned to the dark pages of history. They will be considered the destroyers of the planet. No songs will be sung for them, but the good committed business leaders of conscience can be encouraged to expand renewable energy resources. Pope Francis said this to them: “Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin.”—Speech, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9, 2015.

Renewable energy resources, such as wind power, solar, geothermal, and tide resources, are readily available and a gift of nature that generates electricity without harming the environment but benefits mankind by harnessing nature’s free and abundantly available forces. We have seen the devastation caused by typhoons in the Philippines every year- landslides, floods, powerful winds destroying infrastructure and houses of the poor, crops wiped out, and continuous torrential rains. Witness the recent massive floods in Pakistan, China, and Costa Rica, the forest fires raging and destroying millions of trees from Siberia in Russia through Europe as far as California, all because we burn oil, coal, and gas non-stop.

The Secretary-General said before the opening of the UNGA recently in New York: “I have just returned from Pakistan, where I looked through a window into the future. A future of permanent and ubiquitous climate chaos on an unimaginable scale: Devastating loss of life, enormous human suffering, and massive damage to infrastructure and livelihoods. It is simply heartbreaking. No picture can convey the scope of this catastrophe.”

“Without a dire warning of what will happen to us, we cannot act to prevent it. The world is already on fire, the nations are drowning in floods, the crops are failing, and the natural world and ecology upon which many millions of people depend for survival are being destroyed.”

Trees are the hope of mankind to absorb the CO2 in the atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuel, oil, coal, and gas. We must stop the destruction caused by legal and illegal logging and the harmful environmental effects of mining on the lives of indigenous people.

The war Putin against the peaceful Ukrainian people has disrupted the world’s energy supply. Climate change plans for renewable energy have slowed as Russia cut off gas to Europe. European countries are seeking new suppliers of gas and oil. They are far from being self-sufficient in energy production with renewables.

Without a dire warning of what will happen to us, we cannot act to prevent it. The world is already on fire, the nations are drowning in floods, the crops are failing, and the natural world and ecology upon which many millions of people depend for survival are being destroyed. The dependence on coal, gas, and oil has to be changed. This dep[eis the great challenge is facing every government official of good conscience and moral integrity.

What more can we ordinary folk do but clean the environment, clean up the beaches and ban plastic, buy saplings of fruit trees and plant them, and clear the beaches and environment of dirt and debris. It all takes dedication to save the planet and ourselves.

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