MINDAVIEWS: Let’s bike to save the planet

(Pre-departure Statement of Fr. Amado L. Picardal aka Fr. Picx, who will bike from Baclaran to Iligan City starting December 10 in what he calls a “Climate Ride.”)

BACLARAN (MindaNews/08 December) — From December 10 to 23, 2014, I will be pedaling my bicycle from Manila to Mindanao, passing through Bicol, Samar, Leyte, Surigao, Agusan, Compostela Valley, Davao, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro and ending in Iligan City. These are the areas devastated by typhoons for the last four years: Yolanda (2013), Pablo (2012), Sendong (2011) and now Ruby. This covers approximately 1,800 km which I am doing in two weeks. I will be doing this alone most of the time, but along the way, there will be some local cyclists in major cities who will accompany me for a few hours. I will be staying overnight in parishes and will concelebrate in the Aguinaldo Masses and preach. I have planned and trained for this ride since four months ago but the Superty-phoon Ruby has increased its urgency and relevance.

I have done three advocacy rides (for life and peace) around the country in my younger years (see other story) and I thought I won’t be doing this anymore when I become a “senior citizen.” But the super-typhoons that have hit our country every year and other calamities such as floods and droughts have spurred me to ride my bike across the country once again. I am aware that these are not “acts of God” or mere natural occurrences. These are manifestations of climate change.

This is why I call this a “Climate Ride” and I am doing this in honor of the victims of Typhoons Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda and the most recent – Ruby. I also do this to call attention to the climate change and the disasters that result from it. Among these are extreme weather events like super-typhoons, floods, droughts, rising sea levels, water and food crisis, etc. The Philippines has become one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

While we focus our attention to disaster relief and preparedness, that is not enough. We have to address the cause – climate change – that threatens to destroy our home – this earth – and our lives and the lives of the future generation.

We are being reminded that we human beings are responsible for climate change due to our materialist and consumerist lifestyle, deforestation, dependence on fossil burning fuel for our cars, factories, power-plant which emits carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere resulting in global warming and climate change. As the oceans gets warmer, the super-typhoons have become the new normal. Ruby will not be the last super-typhoon, there is more to come,

I, therefore, appeal to the government to come up with measures to address more seriously the problem of climate change and mitigate its effects. Since our country and our people are the one of the most vulnerable and adversely affected by climate change, the government must make a more vigorous representation in the UN climate talks in Lima (Dec. 1 to 12). It is not enough to ask for aid from foreign nations for the disasters that devastate us. The government must demand from these nations commitment to address the cause of climate change.

I also appeal to my fellow ordinary citizens to do our part to contribute in saving the planet and saving our lives. We can do this by adopting a simple and green lifestyle, lessening our dependence on gasoline-powered vehicles, using alternative sources of energy and thereby reducing our carbon footprints, stop deforestation and plant more trees and resist the construction of coal-fired power plants. I would also like to promote biking – not only for exercise – but also a regular means of transportation and commute within our cities. This means constructing more bike-lanes rather than spending more of the people’s money in building super-highways and express-ways that benefit a few whose cars contribute to global warming and climate change. The bike can save our life and our planet. It may seem an insignificant activity but this can make a difference when more and more people ride a bike, or walk or run.

As I bike across the country, I don’t expect bikers to join me although they are welcome to join me for a few hours as I pass their cities. But I only hope that there will be more and more people who will ride the bike to their workplace or school, and also for sightseeing and adventure. Riding at 18-20 km per hour, with the wind caressing your face, is the best way to see and appreciate the beauty of our country.

I end with a quote from H.G. Wells: “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.”

Let’s bike to save the planet. (Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR or Fr. Picx of Iligan City is now based in Manila as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phlippines-Basic Ecclesial Communities).