June 14, 2024

It’s been 31 years since the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Office (Unesco) and the world have been celebrating World Press Freedom Day every May 3.
And since 1998 when Unesco set up a yearly theme for the celebration, this is the first time that it focused on the environment.
With the government of Chile as host, the 31st edition’s theme is “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis.”
“World Press Freedom Day 2024 is an important opportunity for the international community to collectively reflect on these multidimensional challenges, the fundamental role of journalism, and the transformative power that reliable information has to protect our planet, achieve sustainable development, and consolidate democracies,” the Unesco statement reads.
The Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club is one with Unesco and the world in shifting our direction towards wielding our pen for the environment. We know that Baguio’s real tourism attraction are the trees and other natural charms, not Session Road, Mines View Park and the car parks that the city wanted to build.
There is a famous parable in journalism that if one source says that it is raining and another says that it is not, it is not the duty of a journalist to quote them both but to just go outside and ascertain that it is indeed raining.
In like manner in today’s Philippines, we only need to go outside our airconditioned rooms to ascertain that the world indeed is now burning.
The heat indexes in many cities in the country are reaching the danger level. Some have reached 47 degrees Celsius and the state weather bureau is saying that it will go higher until the middle of May.
It is the role of fact-checkers to make sure that the panic level of the public should not go higher than that. We have to find the real reasons for this temperature surge and not to follow the narrative of some fake news that this is an astronomical abnormality or part of a conspiracy theory. We have to reintroduce the concept of climate change and urban heat islands.
Other major environmental issues plaguing the Philippines, according to earth.org, are air pollution, marine pollution, plastic pollution, and sea level rise.
According to the World Health Organization, Philippines records an annual mean of 24 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³) for fine particulate matter, which is almost five times the recommended maximum level of 5 µg/m³. The major causes are the burning of fossil fuels, vehicle emission and even firecrackers.
The Philippines also generates annually 2.7 million tons of plastic a year. Most of these were produced because of our dependence on single-use plastics, inefficient waste management and poor plastic recycling.
Most of the plastics go to the ocean, making the Philippines the third largest contributor to marine plastics. The country generates two million tons of plastic wastes annually with 20 percent of this ending up at sea.
Earth.org projects that residents of Manila will be displaced by 2100 if current trend continues, as it is subsiding by 20 millimeters a year.
The BCBC takes its strength from the city’s renowned “Three Witches” – former Midland Courier editor Cecile Afable, Leonora Agustin and former Mayor Virginia de Guia – who embraced pine trees in the truest sense of their journalistic worlds.