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Earth Day 2015

On Wednesday, April 22, the global community will again commemorate the International Earth Day, which is considered as the biggest environmental event participated in by more than 150 countries, including the Philippines.

Through the years, the Earth Day has been maximized to bring to the attention of world leaders and the general public the pressing environmental issues that need to be addressed, from ecosystem degradation and destruction, pollution, biodiversity loss to the challenges of climate change, among others.

While concerns related to environment and natural resources are getting more global attention, efforts to reverse the trend of destruction is far from over, primarily because some alterations to the natural conditions of the Earth have already created irreversible damages, particularly the destruction of the ozone layer, that is known as the major factor in the changing climate of the globe. At present times, according to scientists, we see dramatic changes in the Earth's temperature, from extreme heat to extreme cold, aside from the frequent occurrences of natural hazards and risks.

This year's celebration is of paramount importance, since global leaders will again convene in Paris to discuss a climate change international treaty that hopefully will bind countries around the world in reducing emissions, which will limit the Earth's warming to two degrees Celsius. The first international agreement on climate change, known as the Kyoto Protocol, was passed in 1997, but the succeeding summits failed to come out with binding targets on emission reductions. The USA, one the world's top polluting nations, did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

One of the foreseen impacts of the climate change is the frequent and disastrous occurrence of calamities, such as typhoons, tsunamis, and storm surges to name a few. The Philippines is not new to these calamities because we were battered with several killer storms in the past years. In fact, our country is one of the most vulnerable sites when it comes to natural hazards. Another phenomena brought by the climate change are the prolonged period of dry season and extended period of wet or rainy season, or popularly known as El Niño and La Niña, respectively.

It is for this reason that disaster preparedness is not the only thing that we should consider, but adaptation to the changing climatic pattern of the world should be included. This is very crucial, especially because these climatic changes are affecting the seasonal cropping and fishing patterns that would likely affect our food security. We should also be resilient in facing other impacts of climate change, like the increasing temperature and rising sea level.

It should be understood that the issue of climate change is global in nature. Developed nations are the major contributing agents of carbon emissions and it is, therefore, necessary that they should commit in reducing their emissions. While these nations are the foremost culprits of climate change, the victims are usually the vulnerable developing states, like the Philippines.

This is the main argument why the developed countries are being urged, that aside from reducing their emissions, they should also contribute in funding measures that would allow developing nations to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change.

As a nation, however, we also need to address our issues, and this is precisely the reason why we are celebrating the Earth Day, for us to be reminded of our responsibility and accountability in protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources. The utmost protection of our natural ecosystems and the rehabilitation of the degraded ones are immediate concerns that should be attended to. *

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