Fast for Mother Earth

Published March 28, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

As Christian nations prepare for the observance of Holy Week, former senator and former environment secretary Heherson T. Alvarez has called for environmental penitence – a Fast for Mother Earth.

He said the Fast for Mother Earth is a call for personal sacrifices by cutting individual carbon footprints to minimize the impacts of climate change, as in the excessive pollution our water bodies, that now manifest in Boracay, Pasig, and many Philippine river bodies.

Climate Change, which upsets the balance and sustainability of the global climate, is primarily caused by the warming of the earth due to excessive carbon dioxide emissions with the abundant burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil and derivatives – diesel and gasoline.

“As we fast not only with food and drinks but with consumables like perfume and cosmetics, we continue to cut our fossil energy that process and produce them,” Alvarez explained.

“A gradual withdrawal from our wasteful consumption habits, even on our food consumption, will provide some relief to our beleaguered environment. It builds the message that each individual is made aware of the extreme consequences of climate change – that a diminished carbon in the global atmosphere could be our individual spiritual share,” Alvarez added.

Fast for Mother Earth, is an annual program for Holy Week observance, initiated by the Earthsavers Movement more than two decades ago, but a penitence that highlights the need to protect personally the environment seem not to have grown in spiritual dimension as the ruinous impact of climate change.

The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, called the destruction of nature a “sin of modern times” and that acting on climate change is “essential to faith.”

According to Alvarez, founding chair of the Earthsavers Movement, he will never tire of relentlessly making this appeal every year to remind the public of the grave moral responsibility to protect Mother Earth and help mitigate carbon emissions.

“We must minimize the use of our vehicles to cut back on fuel, cut back on food consumption, conserve water, take care of our forests and all other dwindling resources as our selfless penitence for the meaningful celebration not only of Lent but of two other significant environmental events this month – International Day of Forests (March 21), and World Water Day (22nd of March),” Alvarez added.

He explained that rising greenhouse gas emissions will exacerbate water-related risks over archipelagic Philippines, ranked third among 67 countries in the world as most vulnerable to climate change in a recent survey done by global corporate giant Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC).  In the HSBC survey, India, emerged as the most vulnerable, followed by Pakistan, and Bangladesh (4th)

In 2013, super-typhoon Yolanda, devastated the country resulting in more than 8,000 deaths.

Last year, President Duterte signed the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change that committed the Philippines to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent of our usual consumption by 2030.

“Our simple individual sacrifices will drive home the point that the scourge of climate change will need our scientific as much as our spiritual commitment,” Alvarez concluded.