Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Practical pest control methods

Practical pest control methods
Dr Abe V Rotor
 Golden apple snail (Pomacea caniculata) is the number 
one pest of rice plants today in the Philippines. They lay 
pink eggs in clusters above the water level ensuring 
viability and high survival. 

1.  Snails (kuhol) are controlled with tubli, makabuhay and other plants.
Before the introduction of chemical pesticides our native kuhol was a good source of viand in the ricefield and seldom did it turn against growing rice plants. Almost simultaneously in the sixties the golden kuhol or apple snail (Pomacea caniculata) was introduced with the promise that it is a better gourmet, and that it could even be exported.  It did not turn out that way, and with the resistance this exotic mollusk developed having left behind its natural enemies, it emerged a maverick, now the number one pest of rice plants infesting two-thirds of our total lowland ricefield area of no less than two million hectares. Agriculturists have lately turned their attention to phytochemicals to control golden kuhol.  These are the plants they have confirmed to be effective.
·         Derris philippinensis (derris or tubli)
·         Manihot esculenta (cassava)
·         Chrysanthemum morifolium (chrysanthemum)
·         Capsicum anuum (pepper or siling labuyo)
·         Tinospora rhumpii (makabuhay) - Photo, below
·         Azideracta asiatica (Neem) 

Except for siling labuyo, the leaves and stems of any of these plants are either crushed or chopped finely and applied directly on the ricefield, controlling the water level up to three to four inches so as to allow the active ingredients to spread out and reach the pest in all of its stages. Where there are two or more of these plants growing in the area, farmers may use them in any combination, either alternately or simultaneously.

2. Incense rids chickens of lice.  It also calms them down. 
I learned this practice from my father when I was a farmhand. We raised native chickens on the range.  In the evening, we would occasionally smoke the fouls in their roasts under the house. “That would rid them of lice (gayamo’ Ilk),” my father assured me. “And pick a cull for tomorrow’s dinner,” he would add. 

I would sprinkle powdered incense into live charcoal and you could see the column of smoke rising and filling the roasting area.  You could hear the fowls cockle feebly, slowly loosen their feathers and pry their wings as if to allow the cloud of smoke to bathe them. Soon they are lulled to sleep or go into a kind of trance; you could pick them up without any sign of resistance. Without this calming power of incense, the slightest move you make on a roasting chicken would send it squawking in the night.~

Biological Control - Preying or praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) is the number one executioner in the insect world, a friend to farmers and gardeners. 


Painting and Poetry: Fish Incognito

Dr Abe V Rotor
A School of Grouper Fish (38" x 26"), AVR.
Fish, tell me where you live, your home;
The ocean is so huge to be your own;
Fish answers: I am a fugitive in pursuit,
Hunted or hunter whichever may suit.

Fish, tell me of your kin and your shoal;
How you live together as a school;
Fish answers: I live by the rules of the sea,
By number and luck, and by being free.

Fish, tell me if I am friend to you, or a foe;
I gave you a name, regard you with awe;
Fish answers: Neither, I'd rather be unseen,
Far from the dreadful fate in your cuisine. ~

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Scenic Rural Iloilo from the Air

Scenic Rural Iloilo from the Air

Take me for a moment away from you, Mother Earth,
higher than the highest mountain, the tallest building,
that I may view life whole and solid and unabridged
in a perspective beyond details, and without stirring.

Photos and Poem by Abe V Rotor

 Biggest spotlight - the sun - reveals a typical farming community, the fields
basking with the golden color of grain and color of the earth after harvest.
  Geometric parcels of farmland in parallel formation apparently 
   show diversified farming and system of crop rotation. 
It's the peak of summer, and the rains have not arrived.  
Green patches are fields irrigated from shallow wells.
Residential houses huddle on one side of a creek (left); farms 
undergo fallowing, a resting period in summer.
Misty air  looms over the dry landscape - a prelude to monsoon
This fringe of land appears to have a sub-climate of its own influenced by the surrounding sea, while the rest of the island undergoes the normal dry season. 

  The uplands were once covered with forests and grasslands, 
now converted into agriculture and settlements.  
A wisp of smoke greets the lazy morning air from among 
the trees  that line a creek appearing like a miniature forest.  
A unique symmetry created by a natural waterway crowded with trees that form a natural windbreak and  sanctuary of surrounding organisms specially in summer. 

Take me for a moment away from you, Mother Earth,
higher than the highest mountain, the tallest building,
that I may view life whole and solid and unabridged
in a perspective beyond details, and without stirring:

I see clouds shrouding you from the sun and blue sky,
in cumulus like giant mushroom on the horizon, rising,
and released into nimbus, becoming heavy, falling as rain
in the accompaniment of wind, thunder and lightning.

I see rivers swell and lakes fill to the brim in monsoon,
flooding fields and pasture, spilling through the valley,
meandering, roaring over waterfalls and boulders,
resting in swamps and estuaries, then flowing to sea.  
I see farmers in the field, women and children, too,
and work animals pulling the plow and the harrow;
I hear singing and laughter and joyous conversation,
barking of dogs, cackling  of fowls trailing the furrow.

I see harvesters gather the golden grains by hand;
drying shocks in the sun, and building  haystacks;
I see flocks of pigeon and native chicken gleaning,
women and children, the sun setting on their backs.  

I see the fields scorched, a smoke here and there - 
bush fire! when the grass dries up bursts into flame
spreading all over, burning anything on its path - 
what a waste! but it is nature's work and game. 

I see poor harvest, good harvest, where and why,
crops early or late, and fields never planted at all;
I see farming a way of life, farming as a business,
and farm life in all seasons, happiness is its goal.

I see children flying kites of various makes and colors,
beside them grownups cheering, coaching, flying
their own kites too, oh, they have not forgotten
the art of their childhood, so do I, reminiscing.

I see children playing patinterotrompo and sipa,
games of old folks when they too, were children;
games of beetles and spiders as gladiators;
palo de sebo and pabitin cannot be forgotten.   

I see tourists, I see balikbayan, I see old and young;
familiar and unfamiliar faces, sweet, shy, and bold;
I see children going to school, housewives to market,
people of all walks of life, always on the move. 

I see the hills and mountains, to me they're the same,
but where have the forests gone, the pasture?
I see the rivers, the lakes and ponds old as they are,
I have always loved all of these as I love nature.  

I have seen enough, let me return, Mother Earth,
to my home, sweet home, on the farm, to my family;
and tell them of what I've seen in my short sojourn; 
down below I saw my friends, my neighbors, and me. ~  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Many Worlds of the Willow Tree

Dr Abe V Rotor

The weeping willow (Salyx sp) looks sad and in mourning, its leaves droop and are pointed downward, extending to the ground or water where it grows on river banks and pool sides. Like a Narcissus, its reflection is an illusion of awe and wonder, and fear. 

The drooping branches though makes a perfect promenade shade and shelter; it is a favorite subject of art and poetry. 

Author under a willow tree (Salyx sp). UST campus, Manila

At the slightest breeze, the tree "weeps" in whispers, and sways daintily without any apparent effort. Few dare to plant willow by the window - it transforms into a spiritual being to the superstitious, and courts bad luck to the pessimist. 

But the willow is an important tree. Where it grows it creates an ambiance of mixed feelings, and to many cultures it is a tree that is much revered - and feared. Overall all, the world is not what it is without the willow - weeping to the sorrowful, hissing and vibrant to the hopeful, romantic to the lover, sacred to the religious, miracle cure to the healer.
Direct crude extract (ground fresh leaves) repels mosquitoes and flies. It also serves as fresh deodorant in the bathroom and kitchen.  Dilute with tap water at 1:4, filter with ordinary cloth, and spray (atomizer) on garden plants and in dark corners. Another preparation is by dissolving the fresh extract with ethyl alcohol 1:2 ratio, air dry, and add Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly to the powder residue. This serves as ointment of minor wounds and skin problems.    

The Importance of the willow tree
Medicine -

  • The leaves and bark of the willow tree contain Salicin which is metabolized into salicylic acid in the human body. 
  • Precursor of aspirin. 
  • Salicin is isolated in crystalline form and formulated as acetylsalicylic acid, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. 
  • Provides temporary relief. 
  • Ancient remedy for common ailments to the Sumerians, Greeks and Native Americans 
  • Claimed to be effective in cure of diseases including cancer. 
Agriculture - as source of nectar and pollen for bees. 

Energy - biomass and biofuel, 

  • Charcoal for drawing, wood for sculptures 
  • Garden features and landscaping 
  • Pen and ink paintings in China and Japan
  • Hedges and landscaping 
  • Land reclamation, soil building and soil reclamation
  • Phytoremediation,(bioengineering) 
  • Slope stabilisation and soil erosion control 
  • Biofiltration, shelterbelt and windbreak 
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Ritual in Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and Buddhism
  • Christian churches in northwestern Europe and Ukraine use willow branches in place of palms on Palm Sunday. 
  • In China, some people carry willow branches on the day of their Tomb Sweeping or Qingming Festival
  • Willow branches are put up on gates and/or front doors, to ward off the evil spirits. 
  • The Goddess of Mercy Guanyin is shown seated on a rock with a willow branch. 
  • Ancient Korean poem goes, "By the willow in the rain in the evening." The poet Hongrang to her parting lover wrote, "...I will be the willow on your bedside."
  • In Japanese tradition, the willow is associated with ghosts. It is popularly supposed that a ghost will appear where a willow grows. Willow trees are also quite prevalent in folklore and myths.
  • In English folklore, a willow tree is believed to be quite sinister, capable of uprooting itself and stalking travelers.
  • Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story called "Under the Willow Tree" (1853) in which children ask questions of a tree they call "willow-father", paired with another entity called "elder-mother"
  • Old Man Willow in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, appearing in The Lord of the Rings.
  • "Green Willow" is a Japanese ghost story. Other stories: "The Willow Wife" and "Wisdom of the Willow Tree."
  • Remember "The Willow in the Wind?"

Monday, August 18, 2014

Your Backyard as Laboratory and Workshop: Entomology - the Science of Insects

The science of Insects is one of the least explored fields of biology because of their extreme diversity both genetic and environmental, their incredible persistence and wide adaptation. But to a keen observer, entomology can start on the backyard with unending source of specimen throughout the year. Take these examples. 
Dr Abe V Rotor

Click Beetle, Family Elateridae, Order Coleoptera, also called snapping beetle.  When the insect falls on it back, it snaps its neck to regain normal position.  Snapping can be clearly heard so that it becomes a game of sort. Ask "How many loves have I or she?" And the click beetle either remains still or clicks, sometimes in succession.

June Beetle, Leucopholis irrorata Family Scarabidae, Order Coleoptera, also called May beetle when the rains arrive early and the beetle metamorphoses early. Its larva called grub ius destructive to plants by eating the roots.  It lives almost a year underground, spends a week as pupa, then crawls out of the soil. The biological clock of ther June beetle - so with other organisms - leaves more puzzles than what science can explain. 

Left, Tussock Moth caterpillars (higad) Order Lepidopera devour a leaf of castor bean seemingly unaffected by the toxin ricinin, (from which the plant derives its scientific name - Ricinus communis) - one of the most poisonous substances in nature.  Right, a bunch of juvenile short horned grasshoppers (Oxya velox), Family Locustidae, Order Orthoptera. 

Naiad or young of the dragonfly, Order Homoptera, (left) in its last instar about to metamorphose.  It is aquatic in its naiad stage and feeds on mosquito wrigglers, other insects, daphnia, and the like, for many months, then metamorphoses into the winged cicada.  It leaves its skin cast intact, often on the trunk of a nearby tree (right photo). Only the male cicada can produce music, which is actually a mating call. The female is born mute and is attracted by the singing of the male. A good singer may attract as many as five females, which is not the case with other organisms, including humans.   

Wasp pollinator of fig (Ficus pseudopalma). Figs have inverted flowers, so that pollination and fertilization are done by a wasp (specific to the fig species).  It the female wasp which enters the posterior opening (operculum) of the flower which looks like fruity, pollinates and fertilizers the flowers, at the same time lays eggs which will produced the next generation of pollinators.  
Left, male rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros), Order Coleoptera.  The male has elaborate and long horns like a miniature Triceratops, which are indeed menacing to its enemy though useless as tool of aggression. Rhino beetles are among the major pest of coconut, the larva or grub bores into the heart of the tree destroying the young leaves even before they are formed.   Right, a stinkbug (Nezara viridula) Order Hemiptera, lay eggs in cluster.  It earns its name from its characteristic bug odor that is obnoxious to its enemies such as birds and frogs - and to humans. The substance is caustic to the eye and skin.   
Left, Cranefly, relative of the mosquito (Order Dipotera) is also called as daddy-long-legs.  It is constantly moving when it is supposed to be at rest. By swaying to and fro and side to side the insects is seen hazy to a would-be predator.  In Ilocano we call the insect gingined (earthquake) because of its continuous quaking action. Right, a lone caterpillar prepares to attack a bud of Hibiscus (gummamela).  It will metamorphose into a garden butterfly.    
A relative of insects (Class Arachnida) this Wolsey Spider, a hairy large common house spider carries its egg sack to safety in preparation to hatching. Spiders are biological agents feeding on insect pest like mosquitoes, leafhoppers and weevils. The Wolsey spider got its name from Bishop Wolsey, right hand man of Henry VIII of England in the 14th century, who nearly died of fright on finding this spider in his bed. Wolsey died not because of the spider but because of ire of his cruel master.      

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dreams bridge our past and present

In the dark I called Dad and Basang but I received no answer.

Dr. Abe V. Rotor
 This is  a true story.

I went to bed very tired. For the whole day before my birthday I put on extra effort to finalize the manuscript of my forthcoming book which I was going to submit the following Monday. The title is Light from the Old Arch, a compilation of essays I wrote through the years.

It was just past 10 in the evening and Cecille, my wife, who had gone to bed ahead of me stirred. “I’ll just check what we will have for breakfast,” she said as I stretched my aching back and tired brain and apparently fell asleep.
Dr. Carl Jung: foremost psychologist 
of the unconscious mind

Soon I found myself in complete darkness. I could not trace my way to switch on the lights and after several attempts locating it on the wall and under curtain, an inexplicable fear crept, a fear I had never experienced before. I was in a strange domain yet it had the features of my home. There was total darkness, total silence.

Dad died in 1981 at the age of 78. He died here in our residence at Lagro after battling with the  complications of diabetes. We buried him at Himlayang Pilipino. Our oldest son, Pao who died at three, soon joined him in the same grave two years after.

Dad was deeply affected by my Mama’s death during the Second World War. My sister Veny was four then, and my brother Eugene was three. Dad suffered much - emotionally and physically - even after the four years of Japanese occupation. The war left our family and the country in ruins.

We continued to live in San Vicente which is adjacent to Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur. Dad confessed when we were already big that he feared so much we would not make it through in life. I know how extremely difficult it was even if dad owned farmlands and a neo-colonial house which my grandparents built in 1900. The three of us children knew little of the joys of childhood. My only uncle, Uncle Leo left dad to raised his own family in Pangasinan. He seldom visited us and spent time in our big house where he, like my dad, and their four siblings were born. Uncle Leo was the eldest and dad was the youngest. The rest of their siblings died at a very early age of smallpox which killed many people in Ilocos.

Basang my auntie and yaya took care of me from the time my mother died. I was less than two years old then. She never left us even when I came to Manila for my studies. She died three years after dad had gone. Manang Veny called me to come home when Basang died. We buried her in the town cemetery close to our departed relatives. Just before she died she gave me an antique narra aparador which I now use in keeping my personal things. In our dialect, she said, “This is the only thing I can give you.”

“You have given me everything,” I said.

Going back to the incident of October 21, I called dad three times, then called Basang once. It was a call apparently in fear. I felt helpless and lost. I froze. I could not move. I could not shout. And when I knew no help would come, I struggled. I succeeded in moving my fingers, my toes, until I was free.

Cecille had returned to our bedroom. “Why, you are pale and perspiring? What happened?" she asked, perplexed. She fetched me a glass of water.

“Was I shouting?” I asked automatically. “No,” she said calmly.

“I was dreaming,” I said and told her the whole story.

Dreams are visions of the unconscious part of our brain. That is why they occur in our sleep, when we are not aware of things the way we perceive them with our senses. Dreams are not fashioned by rational thoughts and actions, and therefore we have no power to decide and to act according to that decision. We are entirely under the control of our unconscious mind.

“Even when we are deeply asleep the psyche is still actively producing dreams,” says Carl Jung. “We may not always be aware of these activities, any more than we are aware of our physiological activities, but this does not mean they are not taking place.”

According to Jung we remember only a few of our dreams, yet recent evidences suggest that we dream continuously throughout the night. There in our unconscious mind our psyche is very much alive, performing psychological work such as perceiving, remembering, thinking, feeling, wishing, willing, attending and striving – just as breathing, digesting and perspiring are physiological activities.

But can we choose psychic values? According to Jung, when a high value is placed upon an idea or feeling it means that this idea or feeling exerts considerable force in influencing and directing one’s behavior. A person may place a high value on beauty. Another on power. Or knowledge. On the other hand, there are those who place a high value on wealth, even on sex and vices. These create the themes of our dreams.

This is the realm of our unconscious mind. This is where Carl Jung parted way from his friend Sigmund Freud’s as he blazed the trail of the psychology of the unconscious, which led to applied psychology - psychiatry. We are governed not only by our conscious mind. We are actually governed in a much deeper and wider sense than we ever think. As we feed the unconscious with conscious thoughts and experiences, so the unconscious feeds the conscious mind. And this cycle goes on throughout everyone’s life, starting in the womb.

Even when we were children, the mind did not lose the information it received. They were deposited. First in the conscious, then deposited in the unconscious part of our brain, which are saved like in the computer. Now, the information is ready at hand to be retrieved. Touch the key and the info comes out on the screen – the screen of our consciousness.

How will this affect our present mind now that we are older? Jung said that the previous information serves as archetype. To better understand how this archetype works in relation to what we think at present, here is an example.

Suppose here is a person who happened to be a witness of a murder with his own eyes when he was still a small child. When he sees a suspicious person, the image of the murderer he saw many years ago flashes. It is the archetype coming alive.

Or take another example. A kindly gentleman comes and asks for a favor. We size him up in relation to people who have the characteristics this man possesses. If our experiences are agreeable, it is likely that we going to entertain this person.

The images of people, places and events are fashioned in many ways by archetypes. Unlike the computer, the mind spontaneously brings out the archetype that the brain appropriately needs at that moment. This is the basis of many of our decisions – and prejudices.

Through dreams the loaded unconscious finds relief. Information flows out in the form of dreams. Dreams may be happy or sad, fearful or pleasant. Or at intervals of moods and settings and characters, as if information keep on flowing out. Nature has given us a safety valve to maintain our rationality and to release us from the prison walls of memory. Thus the other safety valve is forgetfulness.

Psychiatry is based on this principle. Lying on a couch the patient unloads his burden, fears, and uncertainties. He releases the pressure. Through this process he reaches a state of catharsis. He is relieved. He can now sleep. He can now work again.

People who cannot attain catharsis may suffer of psychiatric problems and may resort to drugs.  Do you often wonder why people resort to drugs? Why there are more and more people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol?

Why, many people try to “escape” reality?

October 21 is a memorable day for me. By reading this story one is led to think that something supernatural controlled the event and situation. I told Cecille, “Dad and Basang came.”

“Let’s pray for them,” she answered and made the sign of the cross.

I know they did not come; I went to them. It was a special day, my special day.

I realized my fault which lays not so much in not remembering them often, but I have ceased to see them as the models that shaped my life. That was too long ago. I no longer see the lessons I learned from them that are still relevant to my present life. I do not call them anymore in the midst of my problems. I have grown up. I do not seek their intercession and guidance anymore.

It is remiss and folly of not showing true feelings to those we love, living or dead, all because “I am always busy”, and because there will be someday to make up for it. There are always reasons or alibis for failing to offer them prayers, to visit their graves, or just to make those who too, are close to them happy. Oh, there are many, many ways.

Time has changed, and change has polarized our worlds. So with values of old and of the present world. The generation gap syndrome is creeping fast, more so with my own children who too, will have a world of their own in the near future.

There in the dark I called Dad and Basang, their names clear and loud, but my voice just faded without answer, not even its own echo. It was eerie and mysterious. The unconscious was swelling and it found an exit in the dark, psychic energy released in dream. And there as I called them, I realized I was the one who is lost – and found myself again.

This is a true story.

x x x

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Santa is reborn in a little child

Dr Abe V Rotor
Mark, Little Santa Claus. 

I can't  miss the Season by association,
     whatever tells of it coming soon;
Amihan is here from far cold Siberia
     Sweeping across all of Asia -

Where the fields turn to gold in the sun,
     and harvesting a work and fun;
I gaze at the kites and birds mingle in the sky,  
     and let my thoughts and dreams to fly.  

I need not build a campfire far away
     to cheer my friends, or alone to pray; 
for here's Santa reborn in a li’l child   
     who brings along the Tidings mild. ~    

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Centenarian Niko

Centenarian Niko
Dr Abe V Rotor
Niko at 10; below, 5 years after
 Photos taken August 7, 2012 at the height of a super 
flood that hit Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. 

His bark resonates at the crossroad,
standing through his den, 
night watch of the neighborhood, 
and pet to the children. 

A brave life this Doberman leads,
 trustworthy its essence;
Who would dare trespass his niche,
or ignore his presence?  

Oh, how the years quickly passed,
and age pushed to the edge;
Niko the brave, the alert no longer,
waits gentle on the ledge. ~ 
By human standard, 1:7 age ratio, Niko is a centenarian.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ecology’s Dilemma Today

Ecology’s Dilemma Today
Dr. Abe V. Rotor
  It looks like man has been able to trace the source of the water that comes from the proverbial Pierian Spring, the secret of health and long life. For years it was believed that the spring lies up in Shangrila atop the Himalayas, or according to the Greeks on Mt. Olympus, or the Egyptians in the Pyramids. One does not have to go there now. 

Pristine environment such as the Loboc River in Bohol is becoming rare

Even today the average life span of man is mid 70. It will not be a surprise if one out of a hundred individuals will be a centenarian. One report claims that the life span of man can be increased up to 140 years by the middle of the millennium. How long did Moses live?

• But cancer is on the rise, so with AIDS, and the spread of genetically linked defects and illness. Work-related and stress-related deaths will likewise increase with heart and severe depression as the leading diseases, followed by the traditional diseases like respiratory and diarrheal diseases. Already there are 15 million people who have died of AIDS and 40 millions more who are living with HIV, the viral infection. A pandemic potential with up to 1 billion people to become affected with HIV has started appearing on some crystal balls and 

this is not impossible if it hits populous Asia.

Street children rehabilitation Center. Bahay ni Kuya, Cubao QC

• Cloning, the most controversial discovery in biology and medicine, will continue to steal the limelight in this millennium, stirring conscience, ethics and religion. It is now sensed as the biggest threat to human society, and if Frankenstein is back and some people regard him as a hero instead of a villain, we can only imagine the imminent destruction our society faces - the emergence of sub- and ultra- human beings. On the other hand, there are those who look at cloning as an important tool of medicine to enable doctors to save lives and increase life expectancy. They also believe that cloning in situ (on site) will do away with tedious and unreliable organ transplants.

• Gene therapy is in, medicinal healing is out. It means diagnosing the potential disease before it strikes by knowing its source. Actually diseases are triggered by specific genes. Reading the gene map of an individual, the doctor can “cure” the disease right at it genetic source. We call this gene therapy, the newest field in medical science. But the altered gene will be passed on to the next generation. Playing God, isn’t? Definitely it is, and it is possible to use this technology not only for the sake of treatment but for programmed genetic alteration. Another Frankenstein in the offing? But scientists are saying gene therapy can be a tool in removing permanently the genes that cause cancer, AIDS, and genetically linked diseases like diabetes, Down’s Syndrome, and probably alcoholism.

• We are in an age of test tube babies. There are now 100,000 test tube babies in the US alone since 1978, the arrival of Louise Brown, the world’s first test tube baby. The industry has just started booming with sperm and ova banks established and linked with the Internet and other commodity channels. Not only childless couples can have children, but even a sixty year old woman can - through what is coined as menopausal childbirth technology. Surrogate mothers for hire, anyone?

• If diseases can be predicted and successfully treated, and life can be prolonged – these have indeed grave consequences to population increase. Already there are 6 billion people inhabiting the earth today, and we are increasing at the rate of more than 80 million a year. After 2150 we shall have reached 13 billion, the estimated maximum capacity our planet can support. Is Malthus right after all? It looks like the ghost of this English political economist and priest is back to warn us, this time more urgent than his 1789 prediction that our population would grow until it reaches the limits of our food supply.

• Our Earth is getting warmer, and this is not any kind of comfort but destruction. We have experienced seven of the ten warmest years in the past decade and we are heading toward another Noah’s episode. Low lying areas where the rich farmlands and many big cities virtually squat will be flooded. Heat is trapped by the carbon that we generate from our cars and industries creating a “greenhouse effect.” As the world’s temperature increases, the polar ice will melt, more rains and climatic disturbances will ensue. Climate scientists have predicted that by year 2100 the earth’s temperature will go up from 1 to 3.5 degrees centigrade. But wait, the worst is yet to come. Global warming will plunge us ultimately – towards the middle of the millennium – into another ice age! There will be a buildup of ice at the polar regions as the ocean currents fail to carry warm water to the poles and back.

• The trend of lifestyle will be toward the simple and natural, even in the midst of high tech living. More and more people will go for natural food and natural medicine as they become conscious of their health. The media and the information highway will provide more people access to entertainment and information. Remote management and distance learning will greatly influence business and education. But people will still seek greener pastures in cities and in foreign lands.

• “Save the earth!” has yet to be a denominator of cooperation and peace among nations. The failure of the Earth Summit five years ago at Rio de Janairo, and the first summit before in Stockholm, has produced valuable lessons leaders must learn. There is only one ship in which all of us are riding. Let us all save our ship.

All in the name of Progress

It is all in the name of progress that nations are pursuing. The West insists of pushing the frontiers of technology into the so-called “third wave.” The East, the Asian Pacific region, insists on industrialization in order to catch up with the progress of the West, while the Middle East has yet to undergo a major socio-cultural and political transformation while aiming at lofty economic goals.

Progress, it is generally believed, is the aim of globalization, and globalization is building of a world village. Isn’t this the key to peace and cooperation? Sounds familiar to scholars and leaders.

Maybe, but the greatest challenge lies in the preservation of a healthy Mother Earth, a common denominator of concern irrespective of political, ideological and religious boundaries. It is the saving of the environment that will be the biggest challenge to this and the coming generations.

Poor Rating of Earth Summit

The recent Copenhagen Earth Summit renewed basically the agenda of previous summits. But demonstrators expressed pessimism over the sincerity of world leaders on environmental issues. 

Idyllic rural life.  People tend to go and live in the city. Painting by the author. 

They had in mind what happened to the promises made by leaders from 178 nations who gathered in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro some years ago. These are the four areas of accord: biodiversity, climate, deforestation, and population.

On the biodiversity accord signed by 161 countries (except the US), ecosystems continue to be assaulted and fragmented. On arresting global warming as a result of emissions from industries and vehicles, developing countries on the path of industrialization have exacerbated the problem. Deforestation virtually knows no limits and bounds as long as there is wilderness to conquer. Every year forests are lost the size of Nepal. Asia has lost 95 percent of its woodlands.

There are now 7.7 billion people on earth. Every year about 85 million people are added. This is slightly bigger than the Philippines’ total population. Although birth rates are going down in the West as well as in the NICS, there is a boom in babies in rural Asia, Latin America and Africa.

What is the score of the Earth Summit? Rhetorics and promises can not be relied upon. It is in this area that globalization should be reviewed. Globalization should be defined in economic, cultural and environmental terms. This triad approach has yet to be addressed to all members of the global village. And there should be a new world governance, more credible than the UN, to undertake this gargantuan task.

“Hundreds of millions of people will starve to death,” warned Paul Ehrlich in his book, The Population Bomb. This is an echo of the Malthusian Theory raised 250 years ago. This means farmers, in spite of biotechnology, can not keep up indefinitely with increasing food demands. Yet there is a great disparity in food distribution. While the average adult needs 2200 calories a day, an American consumes 3603 as compared to the intake of a Kenyan which is only 1991 calories.

Degradation of the land, the breaking up of ecosystems, are resulting to modern day exodus of ecomigrants who cross borders, invade cities and build marginal communities, threaten security of nations, and creates other socio-economic problems. Desertification, soil erosion, overuse of farms drive multitudes to search for greener pasture, many in the guise of overseas workers, settlers, refugees.

The birth of megacities is a human phenomenon in modern times. The world’s cities are bursting at the seams. Half of the world’s population live in urban areas today, and more are coming in. In developed countries 75 percent of their population live in cities. By year 2015, 27 of the world’s 33 largest cities will be found in Asia, with Mumbai and Shanghai bursting with 20 million each. Today the most populous city in the world is Tokyo with 27 million people. New York has 16.3 million which is about the same as Sao Paolo. Metro Manila has 10 million.

On global warming, figures show how the world fares under greenhouse effect. This phenomenon is attributed to the severity of the last three episodes of El Nino in the last three decades, and to the prevalence of deadly tornadoes, hurricane, floods and natural calamities.

A hole in the sky was caused by damaging chemicals that tear down the vital atmospheric ozone shield that keeps us from too much heat and radiation. The size of the ozone hole about the Antarctic region is estimated to be like the whole continental US – and is still expanding. CFC use is now restricted in most countries, but there are other damaging chemicals used by agriculture and industry. Methyl bromide for one is 40 times more destructive to ozone than CFC.

Indeed, this millennium is the deciding point whether we can save Mother Earth - or fail. Already a decade has passed, and the trend of destruction has even increased. If we fail it is also the doom of mankind and the living world. It is yet the greatest challenge to civilization. ~