The recent flooding in the city and elsewhere is a phenomenon brought about by climate change. Climate change will have a lasting effect and impact in the lives of the people. Climate change is an existential threat that needs to be addressed in a holistic way. The government and the private sector should use all their means to respond to it.
There are long-term and short-term measures that can help our communities adapt to climate change. The basic principle is cutting our reliance on fossil fuels for our energy consumption and mobility.
This will require giving incentives to businesses that use renewable sources of energy like solar power.
These suggestions are a combination of traditional wisdom and pragmatic approaches. But all will require strong leadership. For instance, the City Government, with the help of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources and its local counterpart, should direct all Barangay Officials to help in the preservation of full-grown trees in their jurisdiction. This includes saving these trees during road expansion projects.
In Barangay Daliao, for instance, a century-old Acacia tree was saved by the Sangguniang Barangay from being cut. Trees serve as carbon sinks. This means that they capture and trap carbon that is otherwise released into the atmosphere. Large plantations should not be allowed in protected areas where there are full-grown trees in order to mitigate flooding in low-lying areas.
The City can introduce a week-long climate change awareness activity for all government agencies and schools. Educating the youth is our best chance and hope. They must understand the concept of sustainability, caring for Mother Nature, and their moral duty as citizens. The City should require private establishments to submit their climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies/plans before being granted a permit. This includes large agricultural plantations, factories, malls and condominiums, real estate development, among others.
Companies can have provisions for green energy, open spaces for nature and trees, and proper waste disposal.
The City Schools superintendent can mandate school administrators and teachers to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in schools to help educate students and communities. Schools must be encouraged to plant trees within their immediate environs. All citizens must instill discipline by not throwing trash into open drainage systems.
To cut carbon emission, families and friends should be encouraged to have a car-pooling system. Homes should be incentivized to install solar panels to limit reliance on fossil fuels. Solar panels were expensive a decade ago. Today, they are cheap and homes can procure and install them.
Some long-term solutions to address the problem of flooding include the improvement of infrastructure in the barangays, directing the same to allocate budget for urban renewal and development, reduced expenses on travels and providing more budget on trainings and seminars on environmental protection and preservation. Students who are required to plant a tree before getting a clearance for graduation should actually plant a tree or care for one. The City can target planting 10 million trees in the next two years to help address the changing weather patterns.
The High Priority Bus System should use electric buses to make transport development sustainable. A comprehensive urban design centered on a sustainable transport system is key to the advance of Davao City into the future. Science must be used to solve our lingering problems. The City can provide scholarships and funding to schools in the development of the curriculum and program for bright students to study astrogeophysics or even have someone sent to NASA to study how the agency is trying to find solutions to climate change.
Finally, all of the above will not mean anything nor can we even begin to make a real or meaningful difference in our daily lives if we don’t change our attitude. We must do away with our throw-away culture and begin to think of saving the planet as our own responsibility. It’s a matter of perspective. It’s not just the government’s job or problem to ensure the protection and preservation of the environment. We are a part of that everything. Unless we recognize this important principle, we will continue to suffer the consequences of our ignorance and selfish attitude.