Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for December 1st, 2007

Wild musings on global warming 18

Posted on December 01, 2007 by jimparedes

During the elections here in Australia held last week, global warming was a big issue among voters. It’s quite inspiring to know that there are parts of the world where people are awake to this all-important issue, and that there are leaders who are willing to put their careers on the line for it.

For the past years, I have been (with wild abandon and recklessness) imagining how life will change all over the world when the reality of extreme heat, rising oceans, diminishing resources such as fresh water and land, and species extinction descends upon us in a palpable and undeniable way.

Scientists are saying that when global warming hits, it will do so almost suddenly. There will be no subtle changes we can slowly adapt to through prolonged periods like centuries, or even decades. It will intrude rudely into our lives before we know it. Specifically, I’ve been thinking and focusing on how life will be affected in our beloved Philippines.

I’m no psychic much less a futurist, but I am pretty good at predicting things such as election outcomes, the career longevity of artists, and the weather. I can also second-guess the twists and turns of soap opera plots and punch lines of jokes before they are delivered. (But that’s probably more a testimony to my weirdness than any extra sensory perception!)

With that caveat, here are some of my predictions of what life in the Philippines could be like. Some are serious and some are crazy, but I think they are worth mulling over. I figure these scenarios will kick in around eight to 12 years from now.

On fashion: With temperatures hitting all-time highs, close to, or over, 50 degrees Celsius, we will be wearing less and less clothing in the shade but more under the sun. Humidity will probably increase so we will be sweating more profusely and will not want to wear too much clothing. Air conditioning, unless we figure out a cheaper way to cool our homes, will be expensive. But going outdoors will demand that we are covered from head to toe if we are to avoid the onslaught of UV rays, flies and mosquitoes. The chador may become fashionable for both men and women.

Of course, you can avoid all that heavy wear once in a while by using sunscreen SPF 150 with insect repellant. Sunglasses (wayfarers), head coverings and other protective gear will be de rigueur.

On lifestyle and culture: Forget about the Pinoy habit of taking one or two showers a day. That practice will be soon be gone. With the water crisis, it will be more like one bath every three days or longer, which means we will have to make major adjustments in our personal hygiene and laundry. Baths will be short and more like sprinkle baths, or pisik-pisik.

As a result, people may want to have less hair on their heads and bodies since extra shampooing and soaping will strain water resources. This new look will be known as the “Bembol effect.” There is now, here in Sydney, underwear for sale made with fabric that does not need to be washed daily, but only every two weeks! I imagine that will be the standard in the future.

All these ideas are not so farfetched, unless, of course, we construct desalination plants to make seawater potable. But we probably won’t get to do that since the government will predictably back off from any contract with foreign companies because it will be exposed as tainted with corruption.

Every house, car or vehicle will have life vests and/or inflatable boats, just as we now are encouraged to have fire extinguishers. And the ubiquitous balde will be standard equipment, except that this time, they will not only be used for flushing toilets.

For those who like to travel around the country, the trip to Baguio will probably involve a boat ride. Visiting the remaining 4,000 islands in the Philippines will be even trickier. One will be able to travel by land only during low tide.

If you just want the simple pleasure of “soaking up” (pun intended) what the shrinking city of Manila can offer, you can go shopping at the Floating Mall of Asia where the ice skating rink has been converted into a jet ski pond. Or you could watch the increasingly beautiful Manila sunset from Vito Cruz where the newly-built dikes are situated. It you want to be on dry land, you will have to go to Antipolo.

For those into scuba diving, in place of the usual wreck dives where one explores sunken ships, you can dive in the “lost city” and explore the cavernous Cultural Center, the World Trade Center, Folk Arts Theater, Manila Hotel and the US Embassy.

Alas, golf courses will become rarities and many a golfer will weep and gnash his teeth. They are too hard to maintain (what with all that water consumption) and population pressure will demand more and more land for housing. But, just like water polo, golf will eventually evolve into a beach or pool activity.

If you are into dining, kamayan will be the practice since it is more economical to wash hands than silverware. This may even become one of the Pinoy’s contributions to world dining. And to save on dishes, we can adopt the Arabic nomad style of eating where everyone shares a big platter of food.

Hamburgers, or beef-based foods, will become rare since there will be fewer and fewer forests to cut for conversion to pasture land to raise and graze cattle.

Job-wise, more and more people will be working at home. With oil at US$250 a barrel, people will be forced to be less mobile.

People with uncontrolled bodily “methane emissions” (a.k.a those who fart a lot) will be forced to go on prescribed diets to prevent further global warming.

Toilets will be redesigned to flush just once a day, but will be “air-blasted” after every use.

On faith: The Great Flood, the image of Jesus as Fisher of Men, and all references to water in the Bible will be dominant themes in homilies. More interestingly, it will not be surprising to see folk religions conjure new iconic images such as swimming or surfing Sto. Nino, or some anting-anting to protect one from drowning.

On entertainment and politics: Game shows will give away bizarre prizes such as “unlimited access to water,” free inoculations against new diseases and, for the major prizes, bancas or yachts instead of the usual cars or house and lot.

Authors, writers and publishers who come out with paperbacks, tabloids and magazines with apparently no redeeming value will be liable for environmental crimes for wasting precious trees.

Akyat Bahay gangs will evolve into pirates riding bancas while raiding people’s homes in perennially flooded areas.

The New People’s Navy will carry out attacks against the Philippine Coast Guard.

To fight global warming, a legislator will seriously file a bill urging the conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius to lower temperature readings.

Finally, with the oceans rise another two to four feet, our diminutive President (if she finds some way to continue being President) will have one more thing to worry about to keep her head above water!

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