“Wanted: a green president who will address an inconvenient truth” – Fidel Ramos
(originally posted at Inquirer Politics http://politics. inquirer. net/view. php?db=1&article=20091009- 229132)
‘An inconvenient truth: Time to elect green president’October 09, 2009 05:52:00Philip TubezaPhilippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Wanted: a green president who will address an inconvenient truth.
Filipinos should learn their lesson from the recent disastrous flooding and vote for someone who is “truly in favor of environmental protection” in the May 2010 presidential election, former President Fidel Ramos said Thursday.
Warning that the country faced far worse effects of climate change, Ramos told an eco-tourism conference in Makati City that voters should choose someone knowledgeable about sustainable development—or economic development that does not destroy the environment.
“Who are we going to vote for in 2010? Don’t ask me. It’s too early. But certainly, we should vote for someone, from the top to the local positions, who is truly, and indeed truly, in favor of environmental protection and sustainable development,” Ramos said.
“That is the challenge for all of us Filipinos,” he told the audience that included diplomats, former Cabinet secretaries and business leaders.
With the ravages of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) and Typhoon “Pepeng” (Parma), Ramos said he expected “sustainable development” to be one of the key issues in the coming elections.
“The world has gained so much insight about global warming, the environment’s limited carrying capacity, and our own people’s unpreparedness even as our country gears up for elections in 2010, when sustainable development will be a key issue,” Ramos said.
To emphasize his zeal for the environment, the former President urged Filipinos to “wear something green” every day. He then pulled up his barong Tagalog to show a green golf shirt underneath.
Nation at crossroads
“The task at hand is urgent and imperative. We stand at the crossroads where as a nation we have to make important choices in order to create a better future for the next generation of Filipinos,” Ramos said.
“We all have stories to tell about how Tropical Storm ‘Ondoy’ and Typhoon ‘Pepeng’ affected our lives and our properties. We all know someone who was caught in the flood and we also know someone else who heroically helped strangers survive and overcome,” he said.
“While we speak, massive rehab operations continue to be undertaken in Metro Manila and northern Luzon to return hundreds of thousands of victims back to normalcy,” Ramos added.
Environmentalist Jose Ma. Lorenzo “Lori” Tan of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines repeated warnings former US Vice President Al Gore outlined in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and ticked off the possible effects of global warming in the Philippines.
‘Bora will split in 2’
“Tropical cyclones are expected to become more intense (and) we’re seeing this already. Climate changes are happening faster than ever before. They have begun and will continue,” Tan said.
He showed a simulation of what would happen to areas in the Philippines if sea water levels rise by 12 meters due to the melting of the polar ice caps.
It shows cities like Laoag, Davao, Aparri, Pagadian, Zamboanga, Cebu, Tacloban hit by flooding if sea water levels rise by 12 meters along with more than half of Metro Manila with Manila Bay spilling into Central Luzon.
“Central Luzon is a floodplain and the waters could hit up to Gapan … Boracay will be split in two and we’re also going to lose Caticlan,” Tan said, referring to the resort’s airport.
Around one billion people around the world in the next 40 to 50 years will be forced to migrate if climate change worsens, he said. Of this number, 400 million will be from Asia, with 15 million coming from the Philippines.
“Forced migration suddenly becomes very real. Globally, a billion people internally displaced by climate change,” Tan said, adding that the government should prepare for all of these.
Review land use plans
At a similar forum at the Ateneo School of Government on Tuesday by the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners, green activists said that the next president should review land use plans of Metro Manila.
Liza Pulumbarit, the institute president, said that these plans include recommendations for flooding in the Marikina Valley, decongestion of the metropolis and regional development.
“The plans are already there dating to 20 to 30 years back. There would be a need for the new leadership to look at this plans again and see what we can pick up,” Pulumbarit told the Inquirer. “For all we know, they might have been overtaken by certain events.”
Urban planner Nathaniel Von Einsiedel said that a 10-year master plan was drawn in 1975 to mitigate the floods in the Marikina Valley. Einsiedel said that some recommendations, like the construction of the Manggahan floodway and the Napindan station, were followed.
But other items like the construction of a Marikina Dam and the Parañaque spillway were shelved for being “too expensive.” With a report from Alcuin Papa