Philippines: Surging population, rising troubles

June 7, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Reforestation, Philippines, Daily Email Recap

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Philippines: Surging population, rising troubles

This Commentary, by South East Asia contributing editor Henrylito Tacio, looks at what has happened to the ‘Lost Eden’ of the Philippines — a country where  the influential Catholic Church continues to oppose  access to modern means of family planning. While that continues, he says, it will be difficult to ease the country’s runaway population growth and its environmental woes.

Twenty-three years ago the Catholic Bishops Conference, meeting in Tagaytay City, issued a pastoral letter which warned of a coming ecological debacle. They echoed the views of the country’s national hero, Dr Jose Rizal, who talked years before about Nuestro perdido Eden – our imperiled Eden. Today, his words have proved prophetic.

Deforestation in the Philippines continues unabated.  Some endemic fauna may soon join the dodo into extinction.  Coastal ecosystems are gasping for breath.  Rivers and lakes are drying up.  Land is running out.  A water crisis is looming.

“We have to bring all of these to an end,” environmentalists urge.  But all this destruction and its consequences can be curbed only if the country stops growing its population, now numbering about 100 million – and projected to reach 140 million by 2050. “No way,” Catholic priests and anti-reproductive health bill activists respond.

“Rapid population growth, unchecked and unequal access to natural resources and their subsequent over-exploitation, uncontrolled logging, waste disposal and mining and the pollution of rivers, lakes and sea are the root causes of the environmental destruction and degradation both in coastal and upland areas,” states a report released by the German Technical Cooperation agency (GTZ)., From Ridge to Reef: Sustaining Nature for Life.

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