Finis gloriae mundi


    ‘Declaring a national climate emergency is now more urgent and necessary to determine what the government should prioritize to protect Filipinos from the ill effects of the climate crisis.’

    THE world ended.

    For the people of Pompeii in 79 AD. A natural catastrophe destroyed the ancient Roman city, catching its residents by surprise (apparently). For instance, two men (one was probably a man of high status, the other a slave who did heavy labor) scalded to death by the volcanic eruption in an underground chamber in Civita Giuliana (700 meters northwest of the center of ancient Pompeii). “These two victims were perhaps seeking refuge when they were swept away by the pyroclastic current at about 9 in the morning. It is a death by thermal shock, as also demonstrated by their clenched feet and hands,” according to Massimo Osanna, director of the archaeological site. []

    The world ended. For the rivals of the Inca.

    “Near Cuzco there is a nation of Indians called Ayamarcas who had a proud and wealthy Sinchi named Tocay Ccapac. Neither he nor his people wished to come and do reverence to the Inca. On the contrary, he mustered his forces to attack the Inca if his country was invaded. This being known to Inca Yupanqui, he assembled his ayllus and other troops. He formed them into two parties, afterwards called Hanan-cuzcos and Hurin-cuzcos, forming them into a corps, that united no one might be able to prevail against them. This done he consulted over what should be undertaken. It was resolved that all should unite for the conquest of all neighboring nations. Those who would not submit were to be utterly destroyed; and first Tocay Ccapac, chief of the Ayamarcas, was to be dealt with, being powerful and not having come to do homage at Cuzco. Having united his forces, the Inca marched against the Ayamarcas and their Sinchi, and there was a battle at Huanancancha. Inca Yupanqui was victorious, assaulting the villages and killing nearly all the Ayamarcas. He took Tocay Ccapac as a prisoner to Cuzco, where he remained in prison until his death.” [Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. History of the Incas. Circa 15th century. Translated by Sir Clements Markham. Cambridge: Printed for the Hakluyt Society. MDCCCCVII]

    Then the world ended. For the Inca.

    Atahualpa had eliminated Huascar’s family and the Inca nobles, then it was his turn at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors. “After my departure, according to what the Governor writes to me, it became known that Atahualpa had assembled troops to make war on the Christians, and justice was done upon him. The Governor made his brother, who was an enemy, lord in his place.” [Hernando Pizarro Describes the Conquest of Peru, 1533;]

    Civilizations have disintegrated, cultures have disappeared. In his “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” Jared Diamond asks: “Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?”

    Part of the answer: “The loggers have correctly perceived that, once they have paid for their lease, their interests are best served by cutting its forest as quickly as possible, reneging on any agreements to replant, and leaving. In that way, loggers destroyed most of the lowland forests of the Malay Peninsula, then of Borneo, then of the Solomon Islands and Sumatra, now of the Philippines, and coming up soon of New Guinea, the Amazon, and the Congo Basin. What is thus good for the loggers is bad for the local people, who lose their source of forest products and suffer consequences of soil erosion and stream sedimentation. It’s also bad for the host country as a whole, which loses some of its biodiversity and its foundations for sustainable forestry.” [Viking Press, 2005]

    In a different book (The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?), Jared Diamond posits: “The current epidemic of NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) will get much worse before it gets better. Sadly, it has already reached its peak in Pimas and Nauruans. Of special concern now are populous countries with rapidly rising standards of living. The epidemic may be closest to reaching its peak in wealthy Arab oil countries, further short of its peak in North Africa, and under way but still due to become much worse in China and India. Other populous countries in which the epidemic is well launched include Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey.” [Viking Press, 2012] Can anything be done?

    Declaring a national climate emergency is now more urgent and necessary to determine what the government should prioritize to protect Filipinos from the ill effects of the climate crisis. Following Duterte’s announcement to form a Build Back Better Task Force ahead of plans to establish a Department of Disaster Resilience, Greenpeace Philippines Climate Justice Campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said: “What we see happening now is that a confluence of factors—not just the climate crisis—have led to flooding, loss of lives and livelihoods. Denuded watersheds, heavily silted rivers, and decades of short-sighted planning and governance amplify the effects of more intense and more frequent extreme weather brought on by the climate crisis.” The proposed climate emergency declaration covers calling on other countries (particularly industrialized nations) to enhance their emission reduction targets in order to meet the Paris Agreement, holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their share of responsibility for the climate crisis, and ensuring the Philippines’ rapid and just transition to a low-carbon pathway through a massive uptake of renewable energy solutions. The Climate Change and Human Rights Inquiry seeks the responsibility of 47 multinational fossil fuel and cement companies for the human rights harms arising from climate impacts. Greenpeace had earlier expressed support for Duterte’s appeal for industrialized nations to cut their emissions, a key component in climate justice.

    Act fast, we are still in dystopia: “At least 865 (PH) private schools have shut down due to the pandemic” “In latest China jab, U.S. drafts list of 89 firms with military ties.” “Virus Hits Philippines Outlook Most Across Southeast Asia” “Pope, for first time, says China’s Uighurs are ‘persecuted’”

    As the year ends, so does this pre-COVID-19 world.