In Bequeathing a Dangerous World to our Kids, I argued for a common ground for all parents…the proposition that we do not want our children (and theirs) to inherit a harsher world than what our generation faced.  Climate change is contributing so much to this increased unpredictability and instability, and while it affects everyone, the impact is unevenly felt between rich and poor peoples as well as between developed and developing nations.  

Peoples in island or archipelagic nations like the Philippines are the most vulnerable to the impact of rising sea levels.  In as short a time as half a century, considerable land area in coastal towns and cities could be swallowed by the sea if present trends continue.

We’ve heard of local politicians crying victim of climate change, and looking to the culprits (foremost are the developed nations) for restitution.  While I do not dispute the fact that the developed nations had the biggest contribution to greenhouse gas problems and that they have the moral obligation to make amends and at least cushion the impact of climate change, I do not subscribe to victim mentality and finger pointing to hide our own failings. 

Recognizing that although we, the people in island and archipelagic nations have but little impact in reducing (or increasing) greenhouse gas emissions, we would still get the brunt of the impending calamity.  Therefore, it makes sense to take all and any actions to hopefully avert it, as it is indeed a matter of life and death for us.

Let us leave it to those with the capability to address the technological and political solutions such as clean energy sourcing and international pacts, respectively, among others.  But there are those that we can realistically do at the household and community levels that would make a dent in the global scheme of things.

Here’s my list of concrete actions for parents to help mitigate climate change:

  1. Reduce energy consumption.  Modern living relies so much on electricity, which is basically derived from burning fossil fuels- the main contributor of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Reducing our electric bill does not only make an immediate impact on our wallet, but a long-term global impact on human well-being as well.
The following are examples of easy to do energy conservation tips at home:
    1. Turn off lights, computer, fans and appliances after use; unplug appliances as electricity is still consumed even when turned off.
    2. Use energy efficient bulbs and appliances, as well as CFC-free cooling units.
    3. Whenever possible, share the use of appliances.  Listening to music, watching television and eating together (to lessen the need to reheat food) not only makes for an efficient use of energy but promotes interaction and togetherness in the family as well.  In my family, we also pack ourselves in one room when the need to use the air-conditioning unit comes, especially during summer months.  Now that’s bonding time that is both fun and economical.

  1. Eat less meat, more vegetables.  Meat production consumes more energy per calorie than crop production.  Energy derived from corn can be more efficiently used if fed directly to humans than consumed by animals that would in turn be eaten by humans.  Livestock production is also a major contributor of methane, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere.  The health benefits derived from eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables is an additional incentive.  Eating habits and preferences are developed young so now is the time to influence our kids' future health.  But it's never too late for everyone else who are determined to remain healthy and positively contribute to earth's health as well.

  1. Buy local foods and products.  Depending on distance and crop, energy expenditure to transport imported foods (and products) may exceed the energy used to produce them.  Buying locally is not only ecologically sound, but helps improve the lives of local communities as well.  Furthermore, food security is also enhanced by making sure the locale can adequately support its population.  Shorter transport times of goods may also translate to less packaging materials used, which means less energy expenditure.  

  1. Travel less, travel efficiently.  Besides moving closer to the workplace, technological advances that made it possible for certain types of work to be performed offsite not only dramatically improves productivity but significantly reduces fuel consumption as well.  Carpooling, cycling and walking to work also helps; the latter two are healthy lifestyle choices as well.

  1. Educate, communicate.  Talking to our kids about the above ecologically sound and healthy practices and the impact it has on the global scheme of things is last but certainly not the least of concrete actions we parents can take.  Communicating and campaigning about what can be done in the community, workplace, church, schools and other local institutions to help moderate climate change is also within our capacity as parents. 
We also must speak up in various forums, cast our votes, write blogs, and send letter/emails to those concerned to let the world know where we stand on this critical issue that affects the well-being of our kids.  

We must push for bigger reductions in the carbon footprints of those who spends energy the most, particularly in the United States and other more affluent societies.  This is particularly pressing as Americans' belief in global warming is declining.

We have the most to lose on this issue if the world continues in the path of business as usual.  So speak up and speak out!  The world needs to know!

This International Day of Climate Action, I am hearten by the relatively good number of activities in the Philippines as reflected in the map below.
I just hope that the movement can be sustained locally and globally for as long as it takes.

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  1. Anonymous October 25, 2009 at 3:28 AM  

    kuya hen, bka magamit ko etong blog mo sa assignment ko, ngkataon climate change ang topic hehehe...will use as reference, oki ba? :)

  2. Leo Lobo October 25, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

    Of course, I'd love that. You'd not only help my advocacy on climate action but also promote traffic to this site as well. Thanks a lot. Cheers!

  3. Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 4:32 AM  

    Hello Kuya Hen, napanood nyo ung an inconvenient truth ni al gore? ganda panoorin...

  4. Papa Sez October 28, 2009 at 5:15 PM  

    Only the first few minutes. Sayang nga di ko natapos. Hanap ako ng paraan para mapanood. Did you watch it online? Btw, try the shoutbox on the upper right corner of the site for more dynamic/instant exchanges.

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