The endgame approaches.

Each of the very few pieces left have been set. Now, every move counts more than ever. A single action, no matter how minute it might seem to be, could lead to our fall.

The opponent is formidable, for it knows our every move. It has the same set of skills, wit, and strength. It is a good thing that we also know their every move since we have met them before. Of course, we have already met ourselves before.

Unfortunately, checkmate means death.

The United Nations (UN) last year warned that we have about 12 years left to curb the effects of global warming. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5), there were no uncertain terms:

  1. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
  2. Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2, since 1750.
  3. Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.
  4. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

IPCC AR5, 2018

To summarize the Summary further: Global climate has warmed drastically, there is too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we humans are responsible, and we need to do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In October 2018, during Kwentuhang Klima: A Summit on Climate Change Adaptation, keynote speaker Dr. Giovanni Tapang of the UP Resilience Institute, along with other environmental advocates, addressed the maladaptive thrusts of governments when it comes to climate justice. Corporate greed and private interests, coupled with corruption and public indifference, are not helping humankind’s mission to reverse the adverse conditions threatening life on the planet.

GRAPHICS: James Tristian M. Atillo

“We do need to sound the alarm.” In an IBON International publication, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights stresses how the poorest and most vulnerable sectors are the first and most affected by climate change. It points out how rich countries are the slowest to change and the last to answer for historical responsibilities.

Earlier this week, news broke of Germany’s attempts to meet its commitment in the Paris Climate Agreement by pledging to completely shut down all their coal-fired plants no later than 2038 to be replaced by completely renewable options. Notably, this is several years late of the 2018 IPCC AR5’s 12-year deadline.

The UN will host a Climate Summit in New York City where world leaders and representatives of private and civil societies will tackle international efforts on finding more effective solutions to our monumental problem. The theme for 2019 will be “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.” and will cover the following areas: “energy transition, climate finance and carbon pricing, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local action, and resilience.”

In the Philippines, meanwhile, we witness the increasing militarization of humanitarian aid and resilience programs that have been viewed as safeguards for big business rather than actual disaster assistance. Our executives’ blustering at First World Nations could hardly be considered as a reliable platform for meeting future environmental scenarios. Clearly, there is a need to develop better policies to ensure that climate solutions are implemented at various levels of Philippine society.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the doomsday clock is at two minutes before the “apocalyptic midnight.” Perhaps the problem is that we have been talking in metaphors far too often, far too long, and we have become too desensitized by sci-fi movies to the far-reaching consequences of Mother Nature’s wrath. But make no mistake about it, we are trapped in a horror show of our own making and, to a hopeful degree, unmaking.

In that final round of chess–sorry, yes, metaphors, a lot of them–we must imagine the loss as neither of mere wooden players nor glass ones, but of entire species and of the world as we have come to know it. We might not survive what is coming.

The pieces have been set. The opponent’s moves are quick and devastating. The endgame is here.

Our move.


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