Beyond 60 minutes: THE TRUE IMPACT OF EARTH HOUR
Over 170 countries are expected to be in the dark for an hour to participate in the Earth Hour campaign and raise awareness on the devastating effects of climate change. This year’s global tagline is “Use Your Power to Change Climate Change,” emphasizes on the individual empowerment to mitigate the effects of climate change. Philippines earned the title “Earth Hour Hero Country” for leading the Earth Hour participation since 2009.
Haribon Chief Operating Officer Maria Belinda de la Paz sees this as an advantage in promoting environment conservation and lessening the impact of climate change. “This is a good indication that Filipinos are aware and must be therefore willing also to make concrete actions to reduce emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”
Beyond 60 minutes
However, de la Paz believes that the challenge lies after Earth hour. “Switching off the lights for an hour is a proof of willingness to lessen our carbon footprint, but there’s still a lot of ways on how we can help do this.”
Climate change can be attributed to several factors. Certain human activities cause the increase of green house gases such as the use of fossil fuels , deforestation, and waste production.
Ironically, the Philippines’ commitment to Earth Hour doesn’t automatically equate with its commitment to establish mitigation or adaptation measures to address the impacts of climate change.
“The DENR claims that we have 22.8% forest cover left. Yet we need 54% forest cover to maintain ecological processes in the country. Aside from energy conservation, there is an urgent need to bring back our forests in order to minimize the effects of climate change,” de la Paz added.
Haribon Foundation strongly pushes for the restoration of the Philippines’ rainforests. Through the Rainforest Organizations and Advocates (Road) to 2020. Road to 2020 is an environmental conservation movement committed to restore one million hectares of Philippine rainforests using native tree species by year 2020. People can take part in this endeavor by volunteering at tree planting events, or donating to “Adopt a Forest,” or “Nurture a Tree” .
Haribon also established Buhay Punlaan, a nursery of native tree seedlings at the Caliraya Watershed in Lumban, Laguna to support Road to 2020. This is a living laboratory for native trees and biodiversity conservation. Volunteers can visit Buhay Punlaan to help nurture the seedlings, at the same time, learn about the different Philippine native tree species and how these can effectively sequester green house gases and help communities adapt to climate change from an array of other ecological benefits our forests provide.
Commitment to Mother Earth
De la Paz stressed the need to take action. “Climate change is here and it will take more than 1 hour of “darkness” to reverse this trend. Ultimately, the real challenge lies in our commitment to live an ecologically friendly lifestyle which will be quite a feat given all the conveniences that technology has and can offer. Thus it is imperative that we try even if it’s one hour at a time, everyday of our lives.”
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