Sunday, December 2, 2012

Radical Change

Pollution blankets Quezon City in the background. Photo taken in the morning of December 2, 2012 at Timberland, San Mateo, Rizal

If the Mayans were to be believed, the world would end in 19 days. If history were to be believed, the various doomsday scenarios did not deliver what they promise. Oftentimes, Doomsday proponents tell of destruction of Biblical proportions that will send shivers down your spine. But none of them happened so far.
A far more dangerous destruction is happening right now, not the Armageddon kind, but a subtle change that is engulfing our world: Air Pollution.
The World Health Organization estimated that 1.3 million deaths occur per year due to urban outdoor air pollution. The WHO also noted that those living in the middle-income countries bear the burden of the most number of deaths.
If you are living in, or near Metro Manila, you could see the amount of pollution blanketing the city. Do not wonder why you are always suffering from cough, colds, asthma, and other forms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD).
Exposure to air pollutants is largely beyond the control of the individual. Action is required on a community-wide scale or even county-wide for the reduction of pollution to take effect, so says WHO.

As individuals, we can make the change happen. By following the steps below, we could help reduce pollution:

  1. Use your car sparingly. Limit the use of your gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. By radically reducing its use, you could help minimize the carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur compounds, and other solid particles dumped in the atmosphere. If you are not prepared to ditch your car because you are too lazy or too Coño to walk or use public transport, then designate a car-free day per month. At least, you contribute. Or buy a new hybrid car, or a fuel-efficient model. The ways to help are endless.
  2. Do not burn plastic trash. Burning plastic releases harmful chemicals like dioxins and benzene that could have bad effects to your health. Don't believe me? Download the pdf from WECF and see for yourself.
  3. Walk, Run, Bike more. I have been saying this often. The positive benefits of walking, running and cycling are plenty. Sure, you could reason against it: "It's too polluted outside to run/bike/walk" The more we should stop using our cars to pollute the environment. The vicious circle of death must stop NOW!
  4. Waste Not, Want Not. Stop and think if you are considering another purchase. Is an iPhone 5 really worth it when you still got your 4S three months back? What will you do with your old phone, once you got your shiny new one? Throw it away? The packaging you throw away will release toxins in the air and ground. Learn more about how to run away from needless purchasing from Story of Stuff website.
For our Government Leaders: I urge you to seriously consider the following:
  1. Radically change our public transport system. The state of our public transport system in a word: sucks. Put in more mass transport systems like trains and subways. Seriously study the routes where these mass transport systems will be put in place.
  2. Update the old jeepneys and buses with new fuel efficient powerplants. I could stir the hornet's nest when I say get rid of the jeepney. We Filipinos are a sentimental bunch and throwing away one of our national symbol is not an option, at least consider upgrading the engine to a new EURO Compliant Diesel Engine. It could mean costs to the owner, but the government could pitch in and help with the cost. If you ask me where could we find the funds? A good source would be the pork barrels of the top-ten absentee congressmen. Take away their pork barrel and we got ourselves 200 million pesos in funds. They are not working anyway.
  3. Limit the number of jeepneys and buses during off-peak hours. I  have seen jeepneys that ply the Metro that have 3 or 4 passengers during non-rush hours. By reducing the number of jeepneys during these hours, we can reduce pollution.
  4. Promote cycling as an alternative transport. Human powered transports could be the great equalizer. You will be enjoying the freedom to go wherever and whenever you want without polluting the environment. 

I believe in the power of collective action. The government and each citizen must take part to effect the change we want.

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