Another United Nations (UN) climate summit, another bunch of promises. Has the UN really been an effective body in efforts to mitigate the worst of humanity’s many scourges that Planet Earth suffers? Considering that China is, today, the single biggest producer of “greenhouse gases”, the role the UN plays in an effort to curb emissions can only attract increasing skepticism. For a long time now, China has thumbed its nose at the UN on many matters across military, diplomatic, and cultural, affairs. The least of its worries are environmental issues which are fundamentally anathema to its singular goal of growing in planetary power, influence, and wealth — fast.
That’s unfortunate for the little countries like the Philippines who only have the skirt of the UN to hide behind whenever the neighbourhood bully walks into the school yard.
The Philippines, as usual, is a victim of climate change. In his speech before the summit, Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III emphasized that “Filipinos bear a disproportionate amount of the burden when it comes to climate change.” President BS Aquino was likely referring to the annual typhoons that routinely kill tens of thousands of Filipinos every year (another one of the subtle aspects of his blame-someone-else presidency). But you really cannot take seriously the words of the leader of a nation that basically has spread its legs wide to be happily engulfed by China’s mega-tonnes of cheap planet-killing products.
Indeed, Filipinos import just about everything they need to scrape together their wretched lives — food, fuel, t-shirts, underwear, and the yero and used tires they need to build their homes — as well as pretend to be anything but the Third World society that they constitute — cheap smartphones, cheap fashionista threads, cheap television shows. To fund that monumental consumerist binge, it also imports much of its capital — practically pimping the best of its natural resources, the primest spots of its big cities, and the prettiest of its women to the rest of the world’s capitalists.
And as Filipinos collectively engage in that shortsighted and evidently futile race to plug the ever-widening gap between the richest 20 percent of its population and the lot of its poorest 75 percent, Filipinos continue to multiply. The number of Filipinos has far far exceeded any inherent capability of their society as a collective to honour its unwritten commitment to employ and ensure a decent life for their lot.
To re-visit my seminal definition of poverty:
Poverty is a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently incapable of honouring.
In that light, the poverty equation in the Philippines is an intractable one, specially when one considers how the country’s fate is a mere sub-function of the global economy and the geopolitics that drive it.
Because the Philippines is an utter failure at producing stuff, but a runaway success at buying and consuming stuff, it is doomed in the spiral to impoverished irrelevance that it is already hopelessly caught in. Whatever “growth” it aspires to is always underpinned by external dependencies — the remittances of its vast army of overseas foreign workers, the politically-correct goodwill and pained altruism of its former imperialist “friends” in the international community, and its rapidly dwindling share in the global pot of “foreign investment”.
That infamous Aegis Global “anti-Philippines” video that Filipinos and their government have thrown a monumental national tantrum over represents but a small leak in the dike that protects Filipinos from the mountain of reality checks piling up behind it. Perhaps Filipinos can apply their 100-million-strong “wealth” of warm bodies to plug all the holes in that dike. But truly great people do not shy away from life’s reality checks. They face them and overcome them.
Are Filipinos up to the challenge of thinking their way out of the rut they had dug themselves into?
The untenable nature of “climate” activism’s goals and the non-control the Philippines exerts over its fate given that has been reduced to a sad activist cliche. Words uttered and poetry waxed about it may comfort. But the trajectory has been set and the rocket already launched a long time ago.
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