#VoxPopuli: Discarding the Truth of Climate Change
by Daniella de Guzman
[This essay won 1st place in the Grade 8 category of the PSHS-MC Humanities Festival 2018’s Essay Writing Contest. The theme this year is “In Pursuit of Truth in a Post-truth World”.]
“Kahapon ang init, ngayon sobrang lamig. Ano ba talaga?”
The annoyed scholar continues to mumble about global warming, all the while donning a jacket over his sweater. The wind blows harder, picking up the browning leaves, searching for patches of grass and asphalt for them to settle down on. It was likely that classes were going to be suspended tomorrow, and a lot of scholars were just hanging around the campus, spending time with their friends while they could. Externs have yet to be fetched, and interns had a lot more time before curfew. Staying dry is only a matter of staying indoors — and even then, it isn’t uncommon for the sun to shine over a city just a few minutes after a hard onslaught of rain. This is our normal.
Elsewhere, however, ice is melting. Elsewhere, that ice causes a rise in sea level and a rise in risk for those who live closer to the beach. Elsewhere, people get colder winters and warmer summers; elsewhere, extremes are not normal, and they are not so easily discarded as natural. These changes are taken note of and studied, all in hopes of understanding and remedying an increasingly common pattern of change in temperatures that pose great danger to people all over the Earth.
These changes are not their normal — they’re not the world’s normal. A great change is hovering over us, and we’re here, still uncertain of its catalyst. We’re here, ignoring the tales the wilted flowers tell and muting the song the graying glaciers sing.
Growing up in the Philippines, we are no stranger to the extremes of weather — we wake up one day to a prickling heat, and perhaps on the day after, to a blistering cold. Extremes aren’t uncommon. While we can easily discard these as normal, Californians who experience a heavy flood of rain directly after a long drought are not so reassured. As scholars of the nation, one of the things we are taught is to seek the untarnished truth. This Truth, sought by minds of skill — trained in Excellence — must be spread to our countrymen in the name of Service. But what good would the spreading of this untarnished truth do if lackluster explanations and weak arguments against this truth mirror it as a hoax?
In hopes of bringing simplicity to the issue, one can only observe his surroundings. Listen to the wind, how it howls alongside strong rains and how thunder rolls across the sky. Listen to how it whispers, teasing you, on a hot day; feel the heat of the sun pressing up against your skin and your cheeks, causing the lightest of blushes to form as sweat begins to drip down your face. What’s different?
Perhaps, we might reason out, that this change in climate is due to our position on the earth’s surface. This isn’t entirely wrong, but it fails to explain the gravity of the situation. Climate change is brought about by global warming, which causes warmer ocean temperatures and warmer air. Warmer air holds more water vapor, and more water vapor leads to stronger storms and stronger catastrophes. And while cold is used as an excuse to discard the truth of this ever-present change, cold might as well be caused by the warming of the planet.
These excuses that try desperately prove the non-existence of this phenomenon are only ever there to protect their own causes. The fingers that point to our excessive use of fossil fuels and carbon monoxide as causes for climate change hatch these excuses to escape the guilt and reality of the situation:
other people are paying the price for our way of life.
Before I end, let me leave you with a fond memory of your youth: years back, when we were kids, do you remember the way Christmas would feel like? Do you remember the wind saying hello, cold yet forgiving, a satisfying contrast to your warm heart? Do you remember the soft rays of the sun on an early morning, not blistering, and just greeting your excited spirit? Those were cold Christmases.
Nowadays, Christmases feel like our extremes — sometimes exceedingly cold, especially on early mornings and at night, and sometimes increasingly hot, especially on afternoons. That cold mist of air that used to greet us on Octobers is now gone, replaced with the consistently annoying brushes of warmth on hotter days.
If this is indeed our normal, then can we just discard those Christmases of our childhood? #