Monday, March 31, 2008

postscript to a global lights out

Participants to the Earth Hour have given out their local results posted all over the internet. In my neighborhood, my household and my cousin's observed an hour-long lights out. We were probably the only ones in a .5-km radius that did it. My sister texted that she continued her design, ironically, a lighting design draft, via candle light.

In as much as there were enough participants in the Metro – televised, for people's information and maximum effect – there were as many skeptics. I'd understand and forgive the uninformed, but not the unbelievers, those who refuse to pitch in their share or think that turning off a single, unused light bulb for the hour contributed to nothing.

(Photo: MotherJones)

That said, and with too much politics floating about in these shores, I'd vote for whoever will:
  • make alternative sources of energy a mandatory rule for all owners, builders, and contractors of shopping malls and other similar structures. All existing malls should be equipped with solar cells, rain-water recycling systems for flushing and watering plants, wind tunnels to help circulate air to avoid sick building syndrome (SBS) and other building-related illnesses (BRI) and redesigning certain areas to allow for natural light to come through.
    It doesn't have to be like the Gotz building (above). We have so much sun and solar power to harness that I cannot understand malls designed as boxes constricting the free movement of people – ever. Even as a child when SM Cubao was the biggest department store, I never enjoyed being brought there for shopping: perhaps one of the reasons why I grew up not becoming mall rat. Belated credit to those designing public structures who now fully understand their buildings' surroundings and have taken some kind of responsibility in implementing care and appreciation towards plants and air space.
    As an example, a better (as in, improved) building is the humongous Mall of Asia, with its approx. 40/60 ratio of air conditioned and non-A/C areas. A truly bad one is SM Baguio.
  • make solar energy panels and after-sales support of solar devices affordable and mandatory so that each household has at least one panel even if used only for cooking.
  • minimize, if not totally phase out, diesel-hungry and sub-standard jeepneys, old buses and 2-stroke motorcycle-powered tricycles. These do not deserve to be on the road, not even tertiary roads, and are a total disservice the public.
  • truly implement birth control and advocate responsible parenthood. After all, the Church will always blame government for poverty, and too many warm, lazy bodies in corner stores, under bridges, in abandoned buildings and in the streets not only contribute to global warming in some way but also in ruining any notion or form of public and individual safety.
  • punish motorists who insist on driving very old or defective vehicles and destroying public property. They should be made to pay for every damaged public lamp post, concrete barriers, chipped-off curbs and structures due to speeding, running red lights, running away from offense and other such reasons.
  • implement standards and professionalize the local backyard vehicle manufacturers so that they conform to public and transportation safety rules and regulations.
  • strongly support state-run educational institutions to encourage and challenge their students to make better use of their knowledge of gadgets and their time.
  • support replanting of coconut trees, R&D and construction of facilities for other alternative sources of energy; support jatropha farming in idle lands and non-agricultural lands, reward and support recyclers and indigenous farming and those into composting.
  • regulate the sale of motorcycles, limit the franchise of tricycles all over the country and implement a real driving test to prospective buyers and operators, besides jeepney and bus franchises. Not only do we hear about motorcycle-related accidents in the news almost every day, but late motorcycle and tricycle drivers and owners know no rules at all, including noise and environmental hazards.
  • relocate all factories and oil depots along the Pasig River banks elsewhere, possibly near other relocation projects where most of those relocated have difficulty going to work.
  • Encourage science and technology education and come up with an equivalent to the National Artist awards for Science so that recipients are not reduced to trivia and we move beyond Agapito Flores and his legacy*, sort of.
  • Total ban on the use, manufacture and distribution of the sando bag.
I really would rather not hear of any other empty promise from politicians. The criteria outlined above are not a 1-2 step to bloated, short-term commissions or merit TV exposure, so I highly doubt that any politician today will even be concerned. There is no real government and political participation, even in the local sector, to support the initiatives of private entities; more importantly, there are no true guidelines that ensure implementation of masterplans by whoever gets to be in power.

I suppose the first four entries are doable, with the fourth posing the biggest challenge. If there is any one politician who can come up with a plan for a sustainable future, starting with controlling population (rather, controlling the urge of the average Filipino male for procreation or irresponsible behavior (regardless of religion) by making them more productive in other ways), we are probably closer to some kind of an equitable life for all.

Photos from MotherJones, TenShadesofGreen, CSU, Sinag


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