BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
On Saturday, the heavy rain inundated several places in Bacolod City, causing not only traffic jams in major streets, but also anxieties and panic because the rushing water entered a number of houses. From the photos posted on social media, Facebook in particular, you could see numerous streets looking like rivers. The situation clearly indicated the need to evaluate the existing drainage system and other waterways of the city, since heavy downpours these days are normal occurrences, with the advent of the changing climatic pattern of the world.
With the increasing population and migration from other cities and municipalities of Negros Occidental, in addition to the phasing in of more investments, infrastructure development and other economic opportunities, Bacolod is getting congested, and, therefore, it is also important to consider the design of the city in terms of land use and overall urban planning. Aside from flooding, the city is already facing traffic issues, solid waste problems, informal settlers and dwellings, and other concerns that are basically associated with zoning and local law enforcement, like vandalism, sidewalk vending, and improper parking.
For one, there is a need to develop and implement a comprehensive drainage system plan that should be integrated into the whole development master plan of the city. This should be coupled with the cleaning and clearing of all waterways and the strict imposition of ecological solid waste management. Aside from relying on centralized garbage collection scheme, it is important to encourage or even enforce community level waste disposal system. In most cases, drainage are clogged with solid wastes that are emanating from markets, households, or from individuals who just throw away plastic containers anywhere at their convenience.
One thing that Bacolod could also innovate is the promotion of green and open spaces, because they can help absorb rainwater. It can be implemented as part of the requirements for any development of a particular site and establishment, especially those requiring a large area, such as housing subdivisions, malls, and educational facilities, among others. Even in designing roads and parking lots, green spaces can be incorporated. Easements of waterways should be cleared from settlement and infrastructures, and can be developed as greenbelts and parks.
During the past 10 years, infrastructure development in Bacolod was enormous and many spaces have been cemented and if the drainage was not properly considered, naturally, rainwater will find its way to the streets. This particular scenario occurred in Mandalagan last Saturday, because you can hardly find now open spaces along Lacson Street. Most commercial establishments occupying the area made use of every space for concrete structures. Some vendors are also using portions of path walks along this area.
I am hoping that Bacolod City will further acquire property or partner with civic-minded lot owners for the establishment of more city parks that are not fully cemented but would promote green and open spaces. While basketball and covered courts are being promoted in the different barangays, why not Bacolod also allocates funds for the establishment and maintenance of barangay tree parks? It is interesting if these tree parks would be planted with native floral species that may attract colorful organisms, like butterflies.
One ongoing development that is worth looking into in Bacolod City is the construction being undertaken now by the Ayalas at the property of the provincial government along Capitol lagoon. I’ve learned that the contract between the province and the Ayala Land includes the redesigning of the lagoon and a friend told me that the entire development of the whole area would consider green architecture and landscape design.
Another important site in Bacolod City that should be designed incorporating green and open spaces is the reclamation area, since it is not yet fully covered with infrastructures. The development of SM at the reclamation did not consider green spaces since it fully cemented the whole area it occupied, including parking lots.
Bacolod is a relatively small community and how about promoting and implementing bike lanes so that people would be encouraged to use bikes instead of motor vehicles? In a way, this would also promote healthy living while easing the traffic.
There are so many opportunities for Bacolod to showcase it as a modern urban community that promotes healthy living, clean environment, and more green spaces if only local officials will go back to the drawing board .*
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
The pastoral and state visit of His Holiness, Pope Francis, in the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015, did not only focus on issues concerning Christian faith, social justice, equality, and other social and moral concerns, but also touched on matters relating to environment and natural resources. This is not actually surprising, since by choosing the name Francis, he already showed to the whole world, right after his election as the latest successor of Saint Peter, that he truly cares for nature.
He used the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, who is a known Patron Saint of nature, because of his extraordinary love for animals. In his statement during his first appearance with the media as the head of the Catholic Church in 2013, the Pope said, “That is how the name came into my heart, Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation. These days, we do not have very good relations with creation, do we?”
During his courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang January 16, the Pope categorically emphasized the need to preserve our rich human and natural resources, which the Philippines has been blessed with, according to the Holy Father, who is also the head of the small Vatican state. However, it necessitates that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good, the Pope declared. This is a very clear message of the Pope that directly links governance in natural resources, conservation and environmental protection. By ensuring the common good, our political leaders should have the commitment and integrity to safeguards the right of the people to a healthy environment over personal vested interests.
This is particularly important in the country, because of the rapid deterioration of our natural resources and the massive environmental degradation we are facing today. Honestly and integrity are very necessary in governance so that our national resources shall be properly managed and secured from corruption.
While on board the papal plane on his way to the Philippines, the Pope was quoted in numerous media reports as saying that the global warming the entire world is experiencing today is man-made. Pope Francis believes this is largely because the people had tremendously exploited nature. But he is also glad that many people are talking about it now. The Pope will release his encyclical on ecology this year, which hopefully will further advance the debate and initiatives in combating climate change.
During his encounter with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila January 18, the Pope also mentioned that one of the major challenges in the Philippines is the climate change. While he did not elaborate on this, it is to my opinion that the Pope is very aware of the country’s vulnerability to the impacts of the climate change, including our susceptibility to the hazards and risks of disasters and calamities. I was expecting him to mention about this while in Tacloban on Saturday, but he did focus more on sufferings and inspirations brought about by the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda.
In his final message to the youth at the UST, His Holiness singled out the concern on environmental protection, which he identified as one of his priorities from the very start of his mission as the present successor of Saint Peter in the Roman Catholic Church.EAG.
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
After months of higher temperature last summer, we are now bracing, not only for the wet season, but for stormy weather, too. Very recently, typhoons were coming one after the other, affecting several regions of the country. Following storm signals Glenda and Henry, came Inday, and another one is coming. Weather forecasts claim that we are expecting three to four typhoons this August. It seems the description of “Living Dangerously on Earth” is no longer a farfetched scenario. It is already a reality that we have to contend with at present times. It may sounds alarming, but the thousands of death and billions of pesos in damages to properties in recent years, brought on by very strong typhoons in the Philippines, are very serious and alarming. In fact, the devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda last year is still very much visible today, because rehabilitation measures are still on going, to date.
We have been warned that extreme weather conditions are new normal of our times. Natural hazards, like typhoons, tsunamis and storm surges, are getting stronger, due to the deteriorating capacity of our natural ecosystems to withstand the changes occurring in our environment. Some damages we inflicted on Earth are already irreversible and beyond repair, such as the destruction of the ozone layer. Our ecosystems, like the forest, mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs, among others, are already in bad state such that their ability to assist in mitigating the impacts of natural hazards and risks had similarly deteriorated.
The present scenario is very disadvantages to the Philippines due to our geographic location. The Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters has consistently ranked the Philippines in the top five most disaster-hit countries of the world. Our country lies in one of the most hazardous portions of the Earth. It is situated in an area where tropical cyclones are most active, and this is in the western rim of the Pacific Ocean.
The feature of the country, composing of numerous island ecosystems, makes many of our areas open to coast and vulnerable to wind, rain, tsunami and storm surges. The landmass of the Philippines is basically mountainous in nature, with steep slopes that are highly towering in lowlands and coastal areas. This condition further aggravates the risk of flooding and landslides. Our nation also lies in the so-called Ring of Fire, which makes us even more susceptible to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
While disaster risk and reduction management becomes one of the priority agenda of the government, it is very important that it should be associated with strong measures and approaches on environmental protection and natural resources conservation. For instance, how can we improve our disaster preparedness when we also allow the alteration of our natural ecosystems with mining and other resource extractive industries?
There is also a question on how serious is the government in protecting the remaining natural forests, as reports of forest destruction continue to surface. On the other hand, the National Greening Program, which is being considered as a flagship environment project of the current administration, has received numerous criticisms, because some of its reforestation initiatives have been inappropriately established. The solid waste management in many urban areas is still very poor. It should be noted that solid waste has been identified as one of the major causes of flooding in urban centers, especially in Metro Manila.
The climatic changes we experience today are not just a local reality, but also a global phenomenon. However, in our little own ways, as an individual, as a community, and as a nation, we can do something to mitigate and even just minimize the negative impacts of this so called climate change that is threatening our very existence.
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
Last April 22, the whole world commemorated the Earth Day, now on its 42nd year following its declaration by the United Nations. Numerous activities in different parts of globe were initiated by environmental organizations to remind us of the present state of the Earth and what we can do, as an individual or group, to save it from further deterioration. Looking into the Earth’s prevailing condition, one may think that there is no compelling reason to celebrate, in as much that we are facing enormous environmental issues and concerns today. Some damages we inflicted to Mother Nature are already irreversible and beyond repair.
We need not to be experts to determine what environmental problems we face these days. Just try to imagine the extreme weather we are experiencing during this summer with the increasing temperature. Last Saturday, the government’s weather bureau reported the highest temperature recorded in Metro Manila at 35.9 degrees Celsius, while a much higher temperature was noted in some parts of northern Luzon. On the contrary, scattered rainshowers are occurring in several regions of the country, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao.
With the kind of weather condition we have, one can immediately relate to what is now a popular phenomenon known as global warming, a reality that we need to confront squarely because of its devastating consequences, that include tremendous changes in the normal climatic pattern of the world. It is by this account that we are now experiencing erratic weather conditions. According to experts, global warming is primarily attributed to the destruction of the ozone layer that shields the Earth from the direct heat of the Sun. Such destruction is the result of the voluminous accumulation of green house gases, such as carbon and methane, in the atmosphere. The Earth’s natural mechanisms are no longer capable of absorbing these emissions such that all these green house gases stay in the atmosphere and form a permanent layer.
The natural forest supposedly serves as a controlling agent since it absorbs carbon and emits oxygen. Unfortunately, the natural forest of the world is getting limited due to massive deforestation. In the Philippines, for instance, the remaining forest cover is barely seven million hectares out of the over 30 million hectares land area. We lost almost 80% of our natural forest and most of the remaining forests are either open or secondary growth and/or plantation forests. Only less than a million hectare of closed canopy natural forest remains in different parts of the Philippines. The Visayas region is heavily affected with deforestation. It seems the cooling power of the remaining forest could no longer cope with the increasing temperature these days.
The changing climatic condition brings us to two contrasting situations – either prolonged dry and warm period, or much longer rainy and wet season. It is also alarming to note that during the recent past, we observed the intensification of typhoons and the volume of rainwater is increasing. As such, we witnessed numerous disasters and calamities, such as heavy flooding and landslides.
The other impact of this global warming is the reduction of our freshwater supplies. With no rains coming, the freshwater stocks in various reservoirs are likewise declining, while some freshwater bodies, particularly river systems, may tend to dry up, because of the insufficiency of water supplies from our watersheds that has been likewise affected with deforestation. With this situation, even our food production will be affected since farming system that relies on rainwater may no longer be productive and the irrigated farming areas will have no sufficient water supplies.
The list of environmental challenges in our midst may never ends, but with our collective efforts and resolve to protect what has been left in our natural environment and restore what has been lost, we can make a difference. And so, let every day be a celebration of the Earth.
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
The Lenten Season started with Palm Sunday last April 17. Many Catholic devotees are spending Holy Week in prayers, reflecting the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, due to the long break during this period, a good number of people is also maximizing the week for outdoor vacations, usually in beaches, mountains, and other natural sites. During the Holy Week, most popular tourist destinations in the country are full and where prayerful mood is hardly felt. Whatever anyone will do and wherever it will be, let us be reminded that the forth coming Good Friday is also the world’s Earth Day commemoration. Several years ago, the United Nations declared April 22 as Earth Day to highlight the importance of the only known planet thus far that is habitable to human beings. In the Philippines, both government and non-government organizations are launching numerous activities to highlight environmental messages. Some groups are observing Earth Day by implementing protest actions against projects and policies they viewed as detrimental to the environment, while certain institutions are showcasing their conservation initiatives.
A Catholic bishop was quoted in national news urging the postponement of Earth Day celebration since many people are busy reflecting and doing sacrifices on Good Friday. On the contrary, I find the coincidence of Earth Day and Good Friday as a meaningful turn of event, because just like the sufferings of Jesus Christ, our Earth, which for the faithful is God’s truly creation, is agonizing from severe devastation inflicted by its supposed stewards. Probably, the suggestion of the said bishop is on the notion that Earth Day celebration is a festive one and inappropriate during the Good Friday. However, commemoration can also be done solemnly after all we have really nothing to celebrate about the Earth because of its deteriorating state. It is therefore timely that during this Good Friday we shall also reflect on what’s happening with God’s creations in this Planet Earth.
In the 80’s, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines came out with a pastoral letter about what’s happening to our natural environment, which described numerous issues from the forest, water, land, air, marine, and other natural resources. If my memory serves me right, the title of that pastoral letter was “Living Lightly over the Earth”, and it was a very good reading material on the biblical context of nature and the role of people as stewards of God’s majestic creations. It said something like “one need not to be an expert to see what is happening to our once beautiful land” and this message still holds true today.
One glaring manifestation of the Earth’s continuing deterioration is the climate change phenomenon, primarily due to the destruction of the ozone layer and other ecological problems. The changing climatic conditions have adversely affected the global climate, including the increasing temperature and rising sea water level. The weather is getting unpredictable and is now affecting the seasonal cropping and fishing patterns not only of the Philippines but also of other nations. There seems to be a never-ending list of environmental issues we are facing today. Air, water and land pollution, deforested mountains, damaged coral reefs, enormous solid waste, presence of toxic chemicals, and unregulated and over exploitation of natural resources are among of the serious ecological challenges confronting us today. Most if not all of these are anthropogenic in nature and probably it is important for us to reflect during this Lenten Season on what we as an individual, as a community, and as a nation can do to make our Earth a “better place to live”, as one line of a song goes. If Jesus Christ died to redeem the sins of the world, it is only worthy that each of us, Christians, will also do something in protecting and conserving what have been created for us, supposedly to be used wisely and sustainably and not by exploiting them beyond repairs.
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
True to his words, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued last week Executive Order No. 23, relative to logging issues in the Philippines. I believe EO 23 is one of the rightful recognitions on the profound impacts of the changing climatic conditions and the importance of ecological services and functions offered by the forest ecosystems, more than the short-term economic benefits from the massive exploitation of forest resources. The critical condition of the Philippines’ forests, which unfortunately have been recently described by Conservation International as the world’s 4th most threatened forests, requires concrete and bold steps, although I hope it is not yet too late for the country.
I am particularly emphasizing that EO 23 refers to logging-related concerns because I found inconsistencies and pitfalls on how it was actually crafted in relation to its main intent of imposing a logging ban throughout the nation. The Executive Order offers some promising provisions, but there are disturbing circumstances and questionable sections associated with this supposedly a milestone policy declaration of the Aquino administration.
Last February 3, I browsed the website of the Official Gazette and immediately noticed the posted title of EO 23 was “Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of Trees in National and Residual Forests and Creating Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force”. When I further scrutinized the EO, I discovered several sentences stating that cutting and harvesting of trees in “national and residual forests” are indeed prohibited. I wondered then why the term “national” was used when referring to a forest. With the advent of social media, I posted my observation as a status in my Facebook account with a link to the Official Gazette’s website. The following day, Rina Bernabe of Conservation International called my attention, pointing out that the website of the Official Gazette has already corrected all the “national forest” to “natural forest” in EO 23. Such development makes me speculate on what really the exact words provided in the signed EO.
For some of us the term may not be that important at all, but for an executive order, I think, every term used is very relevant because it will be subjected with numerous interpretations, particularly when it comes to technical matters. For more than two decades of my involvement in environment and natural resources management, both in government and non-government institutions, I am not aware that there is a classified “national forest” in the Philippines, although in some other countries it is used to describe a forest under the management of a national government. Obviously, with the corrections made in the Official Gazette’s website, the intention of EO 23 is to impose a logging moratorium in “natural and residual forests”, which refer to forests that have evolved naturally. I could only wish the EO 23 signed by the President was accurately worded, otherwise, there is no point of issuing a regulation for a non-existing matter, like “national forest”. Much more, I would like to be optimistic that it was just an encoding error on the part of responsible personnel in the Official Gazette because legal questions may come out against the said EO.
The second important issue in EO 23 I found ironical is in Section 2.2 that states, “The DENR is likewise prohibited from issuing/renewing tree cutting permits in all natural and residual forests nationwide, except for clearing of road right of way by the DPWH, site preparation for tree plantations, silvicultural treatment and similar activities, provided that all logs derived from the said cutting permits shall be turned over to the DENR for proper disposal”. The exemption on tree cutting and harvesting in natural and residual forests for road clearing and construction is very alarming because there are in fact existing issues of forest destruction due to road projects of government and some private corporations. It is just like saying the government is allowing itself to wipe out natural forests for purposes of road development while imposing a total log ban.
I don’t find it logical, too, that permits for tree cutting maybe issued for site preparation of the so called “tree plantation”. Do we need to cut natural-growing trees to plant more trees? I am not sure what the intention of this provision is, but I am apprehensive that it will be used particularly for industrial tree plantation purposes. Most of the Timber License Agreements before are now converted into Industrial Forest Management Agreements. The IFMA is a production sharing agreement between the DENR and qualified applicants, usually wood producers, granting the latter with exclusive right to develop, manage, protect, and utilize a specified forestland primarily intended for industrial tree plantation.
I am afraid the exemption on cutting naturally-growing trees provided by EO 23 shall be invoked by IFMA holders for their industrial tree plantation, which in a way, would become another logging in a different form. In the same manner, other forestland tenure instruments, such as Socialized Forest Management Agreements and even Community Based Forest Management Agreements, may take the opportunity of the EO’s exemption in requesting permits with the DENR in cutting naturally-growing trees for purposes of tree plantation. These exemptions defeat the very objective and essence of Executive Order 23 to impose a total log ban in the Philippines.
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
Weather authorities have already issued a warning on the possible occurrence of the El Niño phenomenon in the Philippines this
year. After a series of typhoons that lashed the country last year, occasional rain came but generally the weather was dry in almost all parts of the Philippines. It is expected that the dry season will extend to a much longer period, and authorities refer this condition as the El Niño phenomenon. Aside from a warm temperature that we shall expect, especially during the mid-summer, this El Niño phenomenon will tremendously affect the water supply for domestic, agricultural and industrial requirements in many areas of the country, particularly in major urban centers. In fact, there were reports that the water supply in major water reservoirs in the Philippines is already declining, and a shortage of freshwater supply may likely happen in Metro Manila. Early this year, sugarcane planters in Negros Occidental also expressed the need for a cloud seeding in the event that the dry season will continue in the next few months.
The shortage of freshwater is quite ridiculous for a tropical country like the Philippines, and seems unbelievable given the presence of numerous water bodies, such as lakes and river systems. Unfortunately, many rivers in the country started to dry up and the volume of flowing water keeps declining through the years. Even in upland areas, some residents have to walk kilometers because the sources of freshwater are getting scarce. In coastal communities, some freshwater sources are already contaminated with saltwater. Primarily, the shortage of freshwater supply is attributed to the diminishing forest cover, which serves as a watershed. Major watersheds in the Philippines are already critically denuded, and their capacity to stock water is seriously threatened. Rough estimates show that the forest cover of the Philippines is only about five million hectares out of the 30 million hectares total land area of the country. However, the remaining old growth forest is less than a million hectares and much of the formerly forested areas are already converted to other land uses. The Philippines’ annual deforestation rate is estimated at about 90,000 hectares.
Visayas is badly affected with deforestation. Except for the Samar Island that has still a sizeable forest cover left, almost all other islands in the Visayas region have been deforested. Cebu is almost completely deforested while Negros Island has barely four percent forest cover left. However, the remaining forest of Negros is already confined in a much higher elevation, because its lowland forest has been subjective to extensive logging and later on converted into agricultural and residential sites. In fact, numerous settlers are already permanently occupying the vast timberland of Negros Island.
As a consequence of the unabated deforestation, our water supply is now declining and this is a real threat, especially to our agriculture. Millions of hectares of our agricultural land are dependent on watersheds in terms of irrigation. Once the water supply would not be enough for irrigation, our agricultural productivity and even food security shall be affected, and the Philippines’ economy will likely suffer. It is even more alarming when a day comes that we shall be running out of our domestic water requirements. We are now facing two extreme conditions that are both critical to our survival. One is the imminent threat of declining freshwater supply when dry period occurs in a much longer time and on the contrary, we have overflowing water during rainy season and when typhoons come. In both situations, the forest plays a critical role to help minimize the impacts they may bring to the people and the environment, in general. Unfortunately, our remaining forests are not yet fully secured because rampant logging, slash and burn farming and forest conversion into other uses are still prevalent in many areas of the Philippines. Some forested areas are further threatened by large scale mining operations.
It is therefore very important that an integrated watershed management system be in place in the different regions of the country. Serious watershed rehabilitation shall be implemented and this should involve various water users. Heavy water users, especially those large agricultural estates and industries, shall be made to participate in the watershed rehabilitation. Moreover, water servicing facilities shall also be required to develop and implement watershed management measures. We should explore more mechanisms in enhancing the user’s fee system for water to generate revenue, which can be used in watershed protection and rehabilitation. (THIS ARTICLE ALSO APPEARED AT THE VISAYAN DAILY STAR, 25 JANUARY 2010 ISSUE, BACOLOD CITY: http://www.visayandailystar.com)*
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
The year 2009 finally came to an end and I would say that numerous natural events during the past year have transpired that served as a wakeup call to many of us about the impact of climate change. The year started with some areas of the Philippines, especially in the highlands of Luzon, having experienced a much lower temperature than normal. On the other hand, last summer was too warm but surprisingly some weather disturbances visited us between days during the period.
During the year, typhoons have lashed out the country, one after the other, and brought tremendous damages to lives and property, and we have witnessed probably the worst ever flooding in Metro Manila that spared no one, old and young, rich and poor, alike.
These catastrophic events, according to experts, were just a few of the many impacts of climate change and the worst has yet to come unless immediate and radical measures shall be implemented, particularly in reducing the carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.
The coping mechanisms of the natural environment to absorb emissions of countries around the globe have already deteriorated.
Much of the emissions resulting from today’s lifestyles have already accumulated in the atmosphere and destroyed the ozone layer. The resulting effect of the ozone’s destruction is the changes in the climatic patterns of the different regions of the world. As such, we are experiencing and shall continue to witness extreme weather conditions the whole year round. The world’s temperature keeps increasing annually and this may result in the rapid melting of the ice in snow covered regions and will also increase the sea water level in many areas. The Philippines is one known country for its vulnerability to climate change. This is especially so that the remaining natural forests, which help mitigate the impacts of natural calamities, have already been destroyed. Moreover, the island ecosystems character of the Philippines makes our geographic feature more vulnerable to climate change that would ultimately affect the seasonal calendar pattern for agriculture and fishery production.
It is also unfortunate that most of the urban development did not anticipate the impacts of climate change, making most of major urban centers in the country even more susceptible to heavy flooding. Some developments also affected the natural landscape and even natural water channels have been altered tremendously. In some other countries, there are already frequent occurrences of snow storms and in recent years the temperature during summer in temperate countries is also increasing. In spite of the reality of the climate change phenomenon, world leaders, in the recently concluded Copenhagen Climate Change Conference of the United Nations, did not come out with a binding international treaty that would require developed and industrialized nations to reduce carbon emissions. Studies show that these countries account the largest carbon emission, like the United States of America, China and European Countries, to name a few. But it is ridiculous that the main culprits of climate change are likewise the proponents for the non-binding Copenhagen Accord with the US at the center stage. These developed nations also use up most the world’s natural resources.
While climate change is a global concern, it is necessary that local actions have to be developed and implemented. Since this is a reality that we have to contend with, it is therefore necessary that adaptive measures shall be considered from our values, technologies, lifestyles and even understanding of the complexity of the issue. One important measure that we can pursue is the strict protection of the remaining natural forest and rehabilitating the denuded forestlands. We also need to explore more renewable energy whose development does not incur environmental destruction. We need to reduce unnecessary consumption and as much as possible avoid using non-degradable materials. There are just too many things that we can do as an individual and as a community to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
This article also appeared at the Visayan Daily Star, 28 December 2009 issue, Bacolod City*
Photos in this article are courtesy of the Provincial Environment Management Office, Province of Negros Occidental*
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