Written by Derreck De Leon
Illustrated by Cedric David Cortez
Is it just me, or is it burning in here? With how much the world has grown hotter1 each year, we may have spent lots of money for air conditioning, refrigerators, or anything that gives us that cool escape from the country’s tropical heat. Yet by making our rooms colder, have we made our environment even warmer?2
By simply cooling ourselves off, have we been committing a crime against nature? Well, that is just one of the many factors that have caused our world to be a harsher and rougher place to live in.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which was a widely-used refrigerant before its ban in 19871, caused a widespread depletion of the ozone layer. Now, its substitute, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), may not be as harmful to the ozone layer but it possesses a higher potential than its predecessor to contribute to global warming, even worse than carbon dioxide3
State of our Climate Address
To understand the situation of our world better, we must look at the Climate Clock—even nature has a deadline. It tells us how long we have to try and reduce emissions before global warming reaches 3 to 4 °C by 21004. As of writing, we only have over 6 years to make things right, or let the future generations suffer under a hotter world.
Many efforts have been made by environmentalists to try and counter this dangerous and unwanted trend. Initiatives such as the “Green New Deal” and the Montreal Protocol have been done, but it seems to be still insufficient because of the lack of support, funding, and implementation globally.
Our journey from the earliest detection of the connection of carbon dioxide and global warming by Guy Callendar in 19385 up to the current structures we have such as the annual United Nations COP26 meeting is one for the books.
As fairy-tale-like as it may seem, this progress is not linear. There were many roadblocks along the way coming from opposition by corporations, uncooperative people, or even simply the lack of interest from country policymakers.
From conservative mindsets, anti-science stances, to simple corporate greed, varying factors have impeded attempts to kickstart nature’s healing. I personally find irony in how people fear the world ending, yet refuse to act on things that can directly cause it.
This poses the question: when will we ever learn? Should we perhaps make a Dhar Mann video on global warming and post it on social media? Maybe we could just double the responsibility and give it to the next person or generation then?
Regardless, we can only do so much. But if there is anything to be gleaned from this, it is the fact that this issue is grave and imminent. It is only through impactful initiatives that we are able to move towards meaningful change.
Ozone Layer to Oven Toaster?
At this point, I may sound like an environmental activist. I would be very flattered if you called me the David Attenborough of Ateneo. Our climate is a thing we must all fight for as it is the make-or-break factor of our planet’s future. What have we done over the past decades to give back to it?
Ever since the start of the first Earth Day in 19706, we have gone a long way in the field of environmental conservation efforts. We have set up many organizations, initiatives, projects, and research studies to combat the further deterioration of our world, but we never follow through or stay consistent.
In our cities, the use of single-use plastics is slowly being banned. Instead, sustainable alternatives such as eco bags, paper bags, and reusable options are used. Next time, when your Starbucks paper straw gets soggy, just think about how much such a shift contributes to the greater good!
Worldwide, there have been many calls to find safer alternatives to HFCs and other planet-damaging chemicals. The burning of trash in backyards, a common practice in the Philippines, is also banned and punishable by law. We already have legislation such as the Clean Air Act of 1999 which aims to ensure good quality of air for everyone but if you look outside right now would you really say our air is clean? The problem lies in enforcement.
After seeing the work that we have done to combat the thinning of the ozone layer, many groups decide to call it a day and shift to other problems. Instead of using this as a fuel for change, they consider the issue to be fully resolved.
In the current administration’s National Priority Plan7 as well as their 2023 budget8, environmental issues are ranked and mentioned last, sometimes they don’t even make the list at all. It is as if we live in a Bird Box-esque world—we are the people in blindfolds, and global warming are those Creatures that hunt us down. The only difference is that we can actually do something about it.
What have we learned from all these? Apparently nothing much, given the government’s response. Despite all these, we still fight on. Initiatives by non-governmental organizations, international groups, or even youth-led projects are becoming our new front against our world’s damnation.
Greenpeace, a prominent global NGO on environmental issues, campaigns for a peaceful and sustainable habitat for the future. Among other things, they are dedicated towards finding solutions for one of the biggest causes of climate change and global warming: human action.
Think of them as the nanny who looks after you and cleans up as you go. Due to human negligence, a lot of the unfortunate repercussions tend to affect our environment which starts a whole entire domino effect chain.
A local Filipino environmental organization, Haribon, aims to protect wildlife through safeguarding our forests, mountains, and seas; habitats of wild animals. They are your average, normal Filipino citizens, yet they leap bounds and take matters into their own hands like an actual government agency!
Even the Ateneo de Manila University, is taking steps forward towards establishing good integral ecology in line with Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical. The Ateneo’s initiative towards making the campus more “eco-friendly” serves as a benchmark for other institutions to follow in terms of the pursuit of climate justice.
If there is one thing all these have taught us, it is that anyone can be a catalyst of change. The ozone layer problem would not have been resolved or even noticed if no one took the initiative in reporting it. The same goes with those who took the first steps towards finding solutions for the gaping hole in the sky.
As an act of protest towards our governments’ negligence, we must rise up. We must take matters into our own hands, especially during times wherein the people we elect do not meet expectations, let alone the bare minimum for a leader. If change is started from the ground up, it will have a strong foundation to grow on.
There is strength in numbers. Together, our collective efforts push us forward towards a safer and more sustainable environment for everyone to live in, even those who partly cause these phenomena in the first place.
- National Centers for Environmental Information. 2023 Feb. Annual 2020 Global Climate Report | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). wwwnceinoaagov. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/global/202013#:~:text=The%20global%20annual%20temperature%20has.
- Uteuova A. 2021 Jul 25. The cost of cooling: how air conditioning is heating up the world. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/air-conditioning-climate-crisis-global-heating.
- Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Hydrofluorocarbons. Climate & Clean Air Coalition. https://www.ccacoalition.org/fr/slcps/hydrofluorocarbons-hfcs#:~:text=HFCs%20are%20potent%20greenhouse%20gases.
- Climate Clock. 2020. The Climate Clock. ClimateClockWorld. https://climateclock.world/.
- NASA. 2022. Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know? Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/#:~:text=In%201896%2C%20a%20seminal%20paper.
- Weart S. 2018. Global Warming Timeline. Aiporg. https://history.aip.org/climate/timeline.htm.
- National Economic Development Authority. 01102023_2023 National Priority Plan _For Posting_DDC.docx. Google Docs. [accessed 2023 Mar 29]. https://docs.google.com/document/d/11WFyfvAl9AlN9VHdawRDJ9VuTe7Fw9TZ/edit.
- Department of Budget and Management. 2022 Aug 22. DBM submits 2023 Budget to Congress; Education, infrastructure, health, social protection, agriculture, top budget priorities. Dbmgovph. https://dbm.gov.ph/index.php/secretary-s-corner/press-releases/list-of-press-releases/2352-dbm-submits-2023-budget-to-congress-education-infrastructure-health-social-protection-agriculture-top-budget-priorities.