FOCUS: DIE-OFF AND THE PHILIPPINES
WHAT IS DIE-OFF?
The term die-off refers to the sudden, abrupt decline of a species population/number. With humans, this phenomenon may be caused by several factors concerning capacity of resources, population distribution and other social and environmental issues. Once a population has exceeded the capacity of its land and have experienced overshoot with its environment, the population will undergo precipitate decline in number which will most probably lead to wipe out or extinction.
I. CAUSES OF DIE-OFF
There is not one, sole reason for the occurrence of die-off for such phenomenon is caused by several factors and is brought upon by different social, economical and environmental problems.
• OVERPOPULATION • EXHAUSTON OF RESOURCES • POLLUTION
This problem refers to the uncontrolled growth of inhabitants of a particular place or area whose number continues to rise and eventually exceeds the capacity of their land and resources. “Overpopulation refers to when an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. In common parlance, the term usually refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the earth. Overpopulation is not solely a function of the size or density of the population. Overpopulation can be determined using the ratio of population to available sustainable resources. If a given environment has a population of ten, but there is food or drinking water enough for only nine, then that environment is overpopulated” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overpopulation.
•Each year 90 million new people join the human race • From today’s 6.8 billion, world population will reach 8.5 billion by 2025 • “…the present population, with its resource consumption patterns and technologies, has clearly exceeded the capacity of Earth to sustain it. This is evident in the continuous depletion and dispersion of a onetime inheritance of essential, nonsubstitutable resources that now maintains the human enterprise.” (e.g., Ehrlich & Ehrlich, 1991; Daily & Ehrlich 1992).
OVERPOPULATION and DIEOFF
The next cause of die-off the researchers have determined is the depletion and exhaustion of resources which is directly related to overpopulation. Resource exhaustion is explained by the persistent use of natural resources until the capacity and sustainability of these resources are exceeded. This results into the deterioration of resources as they become useless and unbeneficial. As the population grows, the usage of resources increases as well. And if overpopulation is present then the resources allotted shall become insufficient and incapable of sustaining human needs. Along with this comes the severe reduction of our natural resources more particularly the aquaculture, agriculture and fossil fuels. These natural resources are essential to our survival and ironically, our survival is what destroys and drains these resources as we continuously abuse them.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION AQUACULTURE
Overfishing is widespread mostly in Asian countries as fisheries all around the continent are overexploited. Overpopulation and industrialization have been the main reasons of resource degradation.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION AQUACULTURE
“Population and development pressures have been mounting in coastal areas worldwide for the past 30 years, triggering widespread resource degradation. Coastal fisheries are overexploited in much of Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America. In some cases—as in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Japan, India, the west coast of South America, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean economically important fisheries have collapsed or are in severe decline. Nearly all Asian waters within 15 kilometers of land are considered overfished." says Ed Gomez, director of the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines in Manila” The increasing density of human populations in coastal areas, and the resultant destruction of coastal wetlands, mangrove forests, coral reefs and other coastal ecosystems, threatens the habitat of many fish species.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION AQUACULTURE
The exploitation of the aquaculture does not only pertain to over fishing but to the over harvesting of other marine products such as corals, shells, and other marine wildlife.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION AGRICULTURE
Suffering equally as the aquaculture is the agriculture. The rapid growth in population brings about a greater demand for agricultural products. The increase in demand forces producers to sacrifice sustainability of resources to satisfy the needs of the growing population. Moreover, unethical practices are done to satisfy these persistent needs and demands. The sustainability and preservation of this resource are being sacrificed so as to compensate for lifestyle over demand.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION AGRICULTURE
A bit of history, indeed some prehistory, helps inform our perspective. “The problem we address is a 10,000-year-old—in a geologic sense—recent phenomenon, given that we humans have been around with the big brain about 20 times that long. Before agriculture we were gatherers and hunters. We took but we did not plant. Once we started planting, soil disturbance was required every year because the plants that sustained this more settled way of human life were annuals, mostly from the grass family. Annual grasses like wheat, rice, corn, rye, and barley account for 70 percent of all human calories. For convenience sake, we planted these annuals in monocultures. As we did, we created two edges on this agricultural sword: soil erosion as the consequence of the necessary annual plowing, and the pests that the monoculture invites. The first, over the long term, is more serious than the latter, but combined, they largely but not exclusively define The Problem of Agriculture.” -http: //www.landinstitute.org/vnews/display. /ART/2000/12/01/37e288b43.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION – FOSSIL FUELS
The different forms of fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – comprise 90% of the global commercial energy production. Commercial energy is significant in this age of technology and modernity as it aids to our needs and convenience as well as to our survival. But at present, the natural resources of our fossil fuels are experiencing rapid diminish. Moreover, the consumption of fossil fuels has turned into an addiction and has resulted in catastrophic pollution. This result is chronic and has gone far beyond what species, including humans, and natural systems can tolerate.
RESOURCE EXHAUSTION – FOSSIL FUELS
“For when we study Global Peak Oil, we learn quickly that an unprecedented economic discontinuity – let’s call it PetroCollapse -- seems imminent as supplies of fossil fuels fall forever shorter and shorter of demand. And when we study Global Climate Change, we learn that an unprecedented environmental discontinuity -- something hideously in accord with the vengeful justice of the Gaia Hypothesis -- is now all but unavoidable as more and more ancient carbon is un-earthed, and burned, and redeposited into the atmosphere. We study these discontinuities and learn of worst-case scenarios. We are confronted with the fact that die-off is a real possibility. We see that there is an abyss beneath our feet, an abyss of our own creation” -http: //www.culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_ content&task=view&id=73&Itemid=33.
Adding to all of these destructive factors is an equally destructive force called pollution. “Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into an environment, of whatever predetermined or agreed upon proportions or frame of reference; these contaminants cause instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the physical systems or living organisms therein. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances, energy, such as noise, heat, or light energy. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels” -http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollution.
This destructive force causes severe problems concerning the cleanliness and survival of species. This has been a problem since time immemorial and it is showing no signs of stopping or even subsiding. If this problem persists, then it shall be in no time that our earth suffers even more gravely that even us humans, could not tolerate it. As a result, we would suffer from numerous deadly diseases and eventually cure would be something unavailable as caused by the destruction and exhaustion of natural resources.
“Other causes of the coral die-off were "pollution in all its forms," she said. This included domestic, agricultural and industrial pollution, and sedimentation, which happens when steep hillsides near the coast are deforested and mud slides down into the sea and accumulates on top of reefs….Although the report is mainly focused on the extent of the decline rather than its causes, the reasons behind it are principally human ones, said the team leader, Dr Isabelle Côté, a French-Canadian specialist in tropical marine ecology. They include industrial, agricultural and other human pollution, and in particular, over-fishing, she said.” -http://www.mindfully.org/Water/2003/Coral-OverfishingPollution18jul03.htm. Pollution is a problem concerning not only the rainforests, the marine ecosystems, the animal species but most importantly it concerns us humans. Moreover, it threatens us. And worst, it is killing us.
CAUSES OF DIE-OFF
The problems identified above are only a few of countless problems that are unstoppably causing permanent damage onto the earth. It may be too late to repair the damages done, but the ability to lessen their impacts on nature and human lives never ceases. Now, let us ask ourselves, “Is our species reproducing so quickly that we are outpacing the Earth's ability to house and feed us? Is our demand for natural resources destroying the habitats that give us life? If 40 million acres of tropical forest—an area equivalent to twice the size of Austria—are being destroyed or grossly degraded every year, as satellite maps show, how will that affect us?” -http: //dieoff.org/page120.htm. And let us find out for ourselves what the answers are.
There is not one single solution as there is not one sole cause of die-off. The different causes of die-off each corresponds to a number of possible solutions. These solutions are not instant and do not guarantee immediate results but with the right attitude and discipline, nations and societies would have a great chance of betterment and improvement. Provided here are solutions meant not only for analysis and study but more importantly for implementation. These solutions would be a good source of help in the fight against the possible occurrence of die-off.
“Once we recognize the fact that overpopulation is a problem and that increasing standards of living around the world will add to our resource-use and pollutionmanagement challenges, it's tempting to start thinking that disease, poverty, and premature death are unfortunate but necessary (as long as they happen to someone else, of course). We must resist any such temptation and work toward better solutions. We should: • continue to strive to reduce suffering by combating disease and poverty around the world; • continue to improve resource efficiency and pollution control so that standards of living can rise without negative impact; and • keep human population to numbers that are sustainable. On the population front, that means: • making sure people around the world have access to family planning services; • empowering women in developing countries economically, socially, and legally in a manner that results in them having an equal say (with their husbands) in reproductive decisions; • modifying school curricula to include information on population levels and implications for the future; • reforming tax laws in a way that encourages couples to have no more than two children. (They would still be able to have as many kids as they want, but the tax code would no longer subsidize more than two.)
SOLUTIONS – RESOURCE EXHAUSTION
• Increasing awareness for need to stabilize • • • • •
resource consumption Conducting natural resources damage assessments Demonstrating need for effective use of resources Providing structure for exploitation of natural resources Reducing lifestyle over demand on resources Abolishing unethical practices in natural resource management
III. PLACES OF DIE-OFF
St. Matthew Island (1944) • Tragedy of the Commons and Lack of Natural Predator • 29 reindeers were moved to the island, after 19 years, its population boomed to 6,000. Then the commons depleted, the island exceeded its carrying capacity, and the population declined to 42. Easter Island (Present) • Tragedy of the Commons • Forests were wiped out, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their society spiral into chaos and cannibalism.
IV. PHILIPPINES AND DIEOFF
Subject matters concerning the Philippines for the reason that these matters and issues are seen to be the cause of possible die-off: Social matters: Poverty, overpopulation, death and crime rates and others. Environmental matters: Pollution, marine exploitation and agricultural land exhaustion and others. In this study the researchers focused on the findings in overpopulation, marine exploitation, agricultural mistreatment and pollution.
Overpopulation in the Philippines is a problem that needs to be focused on for it serves as a root cause of other problems in the country. Families in the Philippines usually consist of three siblings, an amount which is relatively large compared to other Asian countries. But there are also a large percentage of Filipino families that consist of five or more siblings despite the poor living conditions of the majority. This trend proves to be unbeneficial to the country’s progress as it adds up to the growing problem of overpopulation. These figures only illustrate that population growth is inconstant and uncontrolled – growth continually increases. If this pattern continues, then eventually the growth shall continually increase until all regions in the Philippines become overpopulated.
“Philippine coral reefs are in critical danger and unless these precious resources are managed well, poverty and food insecurity will continue to haunt us”-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez Ecosystems present in the coastal zone, includes the coral reefs, identified as the most biologically productive environment second only to tropical rain forests, mangrove areas, sea grass beds and soft bottom communities. Coral reefs have the potential of producing more than 1 million three hundred twenty thousand (1,320,000) metric tons of fish.
Of the country’s 25,819 sq. kms. of coral reefs, only 4% are spared from overexploitation, destructive fishing practices, sedimentation, landbased pollution and global climate change, stresses Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Elisea G. Gozun Philippines, as an archipelago, relies heavily on the surrounding seas as source of food, nutrients and other essentials and products and as a vital resource for survival. The benefits provided by the seas comprise a large percentage of the country’s economic income, but unfortunately this rich natural resource is on the verge of destruction as unethical use and abusive consumption are done by Filipinos themselves.
Agricultural Land Exhaustion
Agricultural Land Exhaustion
With the increase in the number of farms, the area of
land being used for agriculture decreases which means that each agricultural land are is being used up more and more. If this trend shall persist, then more agricultural land will be over harvested and exhausted. This would cause decline in economic income in the country as supplies within the country experience shortage that it is unable to satisfy national needs. Such occurrence only means incapability of export and a need for imported goods. This goes consequently with the increase in demand for agricultural supply as caused by overpopulation.
Pollution *Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions (2003E) - 72 million metric tons, of which Oil (66%), Coal (26%), Natural Gas (7%) *Carbon Dioxide Intensity (2004E) - 0.3 Metric tons per thousand $2000-PPP** CO2 Emissions 75,299.2 metric tons [37th of 178] CO2 Emissions (per capita) 0.857065 per 1,000 people [116th of 176] CFC consumption 105,641 [17th of 107] Definition: CFC consumption Units: Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) Tons (Metric Tons x ODP)
Pollution is a very serious matter in the Philippines and
the harm it brings upon nature and more alarmingly humans is a matter of great concern. Pollution also adds up to the depletion of natural resources working alongside with exploitation and exhaustion.
In conclusion, congested areas in the Philippines are seen as a
possible cause of die off in the country. It is caused by the improper distribution of the vital resources. People tend to go to the places where the resources are abundant and cause further congestion. Therefore, there’ll be more division of resources for consumption, more land will be occupied, more water will be needed, and commons will be used further. The government can make a move to increase the overall resources to be distributed but it would most probably backfire in the overshooting of the environment and exceeding its capacity to produce. As said above, environment overshoot and exceeding the lands capacity lead to a sudden decline in the population, therefore, die off. Consequently, people move from one area to another and bring with them not only themselves but the harmful effects caused by their unethical use and consumption of resources. It is indispensable for humans to create pollution no matter where they are for it is equally indispensable not to create trash and waste.
Timothy John Estrada Jonathan Kit Reyes