A vicious El Niño cycle is sweeping the country. It is causing still unquantified damage to Palawan’s agriculture. It’s immediate manifestations, including drought, has dried up our reservoir and has forced the City Water District to start water rationing. The penetrating heat, registering record highs of over 40 Celsius in some parts of the country, is not just an intolerable discomfort but also a bane to productivity.
Reports this week noted a trend of rice fields suffering heavy damages because of sheer heat and the shortage of irrigation water. To its credit, the city agriculture office had the foresight to undertake adaptive measures that have cushioned the impacts of this anticipated phenomena, offering technical assistance to farmers among others.
Extreme weather is no longer an aberration or an occasional anomaly but is rather a new normal that affects our daily lives. Climate change is a complex challenge facing today’s society. It calls for sober technical and scientific solutions to allow our communities to adapt.
Climate adaptation is an agenda that is yet to be fully embraced by many local governments. At best, it is treated on hindsight. Worse, it is denied as even a problem but a mere slogan of noisy climate change activists.
In the sphere of local governance, climate adaptation, unfortunately, does not have the kind of political constituency that it deserves. This observation is fairly evident in the manner we are going through the elections season, where the environment and climate change agenda remains in the periphery of the debates.
If there is any place in the country where the environment should take front and center in the coming elections, it should be Palawan. This is because the environmental stakes here are higher because of its remaining biodiversity and global significance. And while no one disputes such premise, there remains a shallow constituency around it.
In Palawan, like in most other provinces, we don’t necessarily elect officials or select our leaders for their environmental advocacies. While many have adopted the cause as a badge or political branding, the jury is still out on whether there is indeed a “green vote” or a vote for the environment.