Monday, October 11, 2010

thoughts on climate change, global warming, poverty, economic development

Climate change and global warming are words that have been ubiquitous whenever we read about developing countries' (such as the Philippines) efforts to develop their own economies to lift a vast majority of their population from poverty and provide opportunities for them to help themselves. It appears that various advocacy groups of poor and developing countries place hindrances to efforts of government to provide employment and development opportunities because of issues on environmental conservation and protection. Inspite of the existing laws on environment protection, there are still those who will often argue against any economic activities using the environment bogey. This is particularly evident in manufacturing, mining and energy industries.

In a developing country like the Philippines where I live, mining, for example, is greatly resisted by environmental groups and the church, inspite of the fact that current laws have built-in provisions on environment protection, rehabilitation and social development. Many people portray coal-fired power plants as disastrous to the environment. However, technologies have already been developed to make coal-burning efficient and environment friendly. Inspite of this, we face resistance to this type of power generation. At present, we have an imminent power crisis. We need to add more power plants to generate the electricity we need. Can we afford to put up wind farms and solar collection arrays to generate electricity? Can they be put up at the shortest possible time considering that the current capacity of our existing plants can hardly cope with the demand.

We must be vigilant, I agree but not to a point when we have to stop development and the creation of opportunities for people to help themselves out from poverty. Our country has often been said to be blessed with abundant natural and people resources. Why not maximise their potential and put them to good use? If we are to place hurdles against efforts of government to provide opportunities to people, then we must provide alternatives for the affected communities. Our country is not a welfare state, and we could not afford to be one at this time.

We need to strike a balance wherein interests of the greater number of people are met and the need to protect their environment. On a global scale, the interests of developing nations should be defended against the limitations imposed by global agreements which generally favour the developed world.

I am exasperated with the debate on climate change. For one, climate change is real as we experience it. There should actually be no debate about it on this part of the world. However, because of climate change or in general the environment argument, opportunities for development may be limited. Remember, historically the US and western Europe developed their economies to its present state without the strict environmental codes adhered today. A lot of the greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere today could be from the industrial revolution. The developed countries can offset the greenhouse gases produced by the developing countries or provide freely their green technologies to develop our own economy. Let us develop first and lift a large part of our population out of poverty. Only then, could we afford to let go of our carbon-producing technologies and later, probably assist other developing nations in addressing their problems of poverty.

If you want to know a few facts and trivia about the Philippines, click here.

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