A mountainside in the southern Philippines burns as a farmer prepare the land for planting. Slash-and-burn agriculture, also called fire-fallow cultivation, is a method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
The world is afire again. The flames heartbreakingly consume shrubs, trees and forests in Australia, Portugal, Brazil and, recently, in California and Siberia. And elsewhere, too.
The world community has reacted in protest to the hundreds of fires burning in the Amazon rainforest that have destroyed the habitat of thousands of endangered species and the communities of indigenous people.Naturally recurring fires can be helpful to forests, but man-made forest fires are too huge, too frequent and overwhelming for the forest to recover.Deforestation is totally destructive, and when primeval rainforests are cut, the loss is almost irreversible.Let us tell it as it is.
Voices raised at lastThe good news among the gloom and doom is that more people are becoming aware of the dangers of climate change and the need for climate justice, and are calling for change — political, social and environmental.Students are refusing to go to school on Fridays and are protesting instead. Thousands of people are marching and raising their collective voices.Global warming is melting the Arctic ice sheet at an alarming rate. Scientists are astounded.This is causing the sea level to rise, sinking island nations in the Pacific and bringing severe climate disruptions that cause droughts, floods and hurricanes, as seen recently in the Bahamas.There is more to come. The towns and cities on the coasts will be inundated in the years to come. Those of eastern England, Bangladesh, the Pacific Islands and Florida are the most vulnerable and will be the first to go under. There is no holding back the rise in ocean levels.Besides this, the polar bears, reindeer and the wildlife of the Arctic are increasingly under threat of extinction and the indigenous people suffer greatly due to the destruction and changes in their environment. We are at war with the planet and each other.We humans yearn for peace and an end to war. We are the most powerful and aggressive species that dominate the environment, and we are destroying it. The planet has evolved millions of creatures but none so destructive and dangerous as us humans.The high levels of human antagonism, distrust, fear and insecurity have led to confrontation between individuals, communities and nations. Peace is elusive.Even in the most economically developed countries, division, violence and racial hatred are present. In Syria, Yemen, the Congo, Northern Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Middle East, war is a daily occurrence. If we are not killed by gunfire as in America, thousands die from opiate overdoses.Humans have beaten each other to death with clubs and then deadly weapons for centuries. They have nuclear bombs now to bring about our own extinction. We must live with the fear of mutually assured destruction to survive.To stop this gallop to self-harm and destruction of the planet and our environment, there needs to be a huge change in lifestyle among humans.We are all responsible for causing pollution by extensive traveling, using non-recyclable plastic, unnecessarily buying imported foods instead of growing food locally and eating millions of tons of beef instead of more fruits and vegetables.We can save the planet if governments implement the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions of CO2, methane and FS6 gases. Changing to electric cars and renewable energy production are all important ways to combat climate change.Of course, planting millions of trees is also essential to absorb the CO2.Respecting the rights of the indigenous people to live on their own ancestral lands and protect their forests is a human and legal right. If the government respects the constitutional provisions and existing laws protecting the rights of the indigenous people, they will not renew the operating permits of many destructive, land-grabbing mining corporations.Growing public protest and positive action give hope and encouragement to more people to change their lifestyle and demand governments around the world to act decisively to protect the planet and give climate justice to those deprived and hurt by the environmental damage caused by wealthy nations. We have to work for change.Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of ucanews.com.