Humanity has always taken pride in its achievements—its scientific breakthroughs and its continuous technological evolution. From living in caves and treehouses to building skyscrapers and underwater structures, we definitely have come a long way. If we look back on the past 200,000 years we have inhabited the earth, we would undoubtedly reflect on monumental discoveries and significant historical events, selecting those that reaffirm that we are destined for greatness. And yet, all our feats and triumphs come at the greatest cost—the future of our planet.
When we were young, our parents would always ask us what we aspire to be when we grow up. Our answers revolved around professions, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, or teachers. It has been instilled in us that these career paths bring the most honor to the family. However true, this outlook has subjected us to a disinterest in pursuing what might be considered the most essential profession in the planet—to be environmental advocates. From the Latin word advocare, which means “call (to one’s aid),” we are all called to the aid of nature, to save it from further destruction and catastrophe.
We live in a warming Earth where, regardless of consequence, trees are cut down at a faster rate than replanting forests, seas are contaminated with industrial waste and oil spills, and mountains are continuously mined without a responsible rehabilitation plan. We may think that we have lobbyists and environmental activists to respond and devise ways of protecting these natural resources. However, their efforts may be in vain if the rest of us remain indifferent.
According to a report published by the United Nations in 2019, about one million species of plants and animals face extinction, including 40 percent of amphibians, almost a third of reef-building corals, more than a third of marine mammals, and 10 percent of all insects. Moreover, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released an article entitled “Climate Change: How Do We Know?” outlining some of the most prevalent evidences of the changing climate. The global temperature and sea level continue to rise as a result of melting glaciers all over the world, extreme weather conditions across continents, and the increasing acidity of the ocean water threatening the biodiversity of sea life, to name a few. Three centuries of industrialization and consumerism have culminated into a global phenomenon of environmental crises that threaten the survival of future generations. We must not go silently in the dark and accept this inevitability. As environmental advocates, we can contribute in our own capacities to save Mother Earth.
Globally, there are numerous movements and organizations, like the World Wide Fund for Nature and United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, which provide information on and support to various environmental concerns. In the Philippines, we have Haribon Foundation and Save Philippine Seas. We could volunteer to these organizations or become earth warriors on our own initiative. Let us look at the example of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old high-school student from Sweden who started a global movement on climate change. She marched into the building of the Swedish Parliament to express her concern on the lack of action against climate change. Her parents and classmates tried to discourage her, but she never stopped until the whole world noticed her. She became a figurehead and started travelling the world to talk with leaders and people, in general, to act fast and effective against climate change.
Just like Greta Thunberg, we could positively change the state of the Earth by starting with ourselves. We may not all achieve the level of impact she has, but our combined efforts may amount to something more effective in the long term. We could start by talking to our families, friends, and peers on the state of our environment. We can change our lifestyles by cutting down on power consumption and water usage, buying energy-efficient appliances, eating all the food we buy, refraining from constantly buying new clothes and other personal item, and making it a habit to consciously decrease our carbon footprint. If all 7.7 billion people on Earth practice a greener lifestyle, then the future will certainly be one we can look forward to.
As Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio said in his speech at the United Nations Climate Summit: “We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.” We surely have come a long way and have seen progress and advancement like never before. At best, the world could set aside all differences and face this greatest enemy.
However, the fight for a greener planet is not set in black and white but rather in grey areas, where we have to understand all the factors and come up with long-term solutions that are both beneficial to the environment and people. Future generations depend on us. Being an environmental advocate or an earth warrior is not a job we can decline or a calling we can ignore: our planet is our responsibility and we must care for it as if our lives depend on it. Actually, it does.
Jedda Pascual is an Experienced Junior of Audit & Assurance P&A Grant Thornton Davao. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members. We are in Makati, Cavite, Cebu and Davao. For comments on this article, please email jedda. firstname.lastname@example.org or PAGrantThornton.email@example.com. For our services, visit www.grantthornton.com.ph. Follow us on Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 26 September 2019