Weathering Storms: Why Corporations are Vital in Preventing Climate Change

Climate change, global warming, and biodiversity loss:  three crucial issues that are always connected to each other. Have you ever wondered what the primary causes behind these issues are?

You can find the answer in the storms—in the history of the typhoons that have struck our country.

  • Corporations and manufacturing companies emit gasses that get trapped in our atmosphere. These are greenhouse gasses, which contain fluoridated gasses and chemical processes.
  • Corporations can and should know their limits when producing products. Overexploitation causes extinction of resources and leads to biodiversity loss as there may not be organisms left to reproduce.
  • Corporations should shift to using eco-friendly materials for the production and make of their products; this is another core action they can do to prevent not only climate change but pollution too.

Just two months ago,  Typhoon Paeng (International Name: Nalgae) landed in the Philippines, taking a hundred lives and leaving 2 million people affected. The country also suffered from heavy floods and the destruction of many Filipinos’ homes. 

Now, revisit a similar time two years ago, sometime in December 2022. Typhoon Odette (International Name: Rai) took 409 lives and left behind damages worth 51.8 billion pesos. It is the second strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines, and it left the Filipino people on their knees.

Then, go back to ten years ago: Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan), the strongest typhoon that has ever hit the Philippines, led to the deaths of over 6,000 and racked up a total damage of 95.5 billion pesos.

The list goes on and on, but long story short, our country is extremely prone to these disasters. However, while typhoons may be natural disasters, their increasing extremity over the past years is not a completely natural thing. In fact, climate change has been playing a part in exacerbating the issue. 

The observed growth over the past century in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and the consequences are referred to as climate change. There are many signs of climate change that we can see everyday: higher temperatures, rising sea levels, warmer ocean temperatures, shrinking sea ice, and melting glaciers all because of climate change.

These symptoms have consequences that can greatly affect us humans and other vital organisms in our ecosystems. Rising sea temperatures cause seawater to expand, taking up more space in the ocean basin and leading to rising sea levels. The melting glaciers also add to this. The rise in these sea levels mean that our land is shrinking, which is a big problem, especially considering our exponentially increasing population.

But why is climate change happening? One of the main reasons for climate change is because of greenhouse gasses. These trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere as their molecules absorb the sunlight reflected by the earth’s surface, preventing it from escaping and allowing the heat to be trapped in the planet. These consist of harmful amounts of the following:  carbon dioxide from burning fuels; methane from the production and transportation of coal; and nitrous oxide from agricultural, land use, and industrial activities. 

Unfortunately, big corporations—specifically manufacturing companies that manufacture the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the many items we use everyday—produce about 18% of the world’s global emissions due to their unsustainable production processes and practices. 

These industrial processes include the chemical processes which are smelting, pyroprocessing, and burning fossil fuels. For example, smelting releases impurities like lead and arsenic, which can affect the environment and us humans when released through smokestacks . They cause air and water pollution, and although they do not lead to immediate risk, long-term exposure can bring heart disease, diabetes, and cancer of the bladder, lung, skin, kidney, liver, and prostate. Meanwhile, lead in children can lead to behavioral issues like hyperactivity, lifelong learning challenges, and stunted physical development.

Furthermore, despite having a considerable amount of eco-friendly choices out there, the majority of businesses stick with the cheaper option: plastic. Yet, small businesses still make environment-conscious decisions for their packaging such as using eco bags instead of single-use plastics which we can see in most local grocery stores. Though these small businesses are slowly adapting to eco-friendly materials, unfortunately, they can only balance out a little of the damage big corporations bring on a daily basis. Manufacturing companies should step up and take accountability because they profit from abuse of our environment—leaving the weight of their damage on our backs.

It is clear that these corporations must become fully aware of and accountable for the damage they have been causing to the global landscape. In fact, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs practically call for it.  

The 12th SDG on Responsible Consumption and Production states that the unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are the root cause of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Overexploitation of our environment is one of these unsustainable patterns, yet as mentioned earlier, many companies’ manufacturing processes are built on it. 

Furthermore,  the 13th SDG on Climate Action states that we should take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Instead of these companies utilizing materials such as fossil fuels that negatively impact the environment, they should opt to operate using sustainable alternatives such as solar energy, hydroelectric energy, or even biomass. Using packaging made out of biodegradable materials instead of plastic would also make a significant difference. To add, companies should also become more conscious of their greenhouse gas emissions and take the initiative to reduce their carbon footprint and be kinder to our environment.

It is the goal of many, maybe even you, to live in a safe and clean world—a world with bearable climates and fresh air, a world where we are all safe. Thus, it is essential for major corporations to recognize the impact of their practices and take accountability for their actions. Climate change can connect to biodiversity loss, pollution, and more social issues. The more corporations contribute to climate change, it will result in more issues, creating a domino effect. The world we mentioned earlier, the clean and safe one, along with the United Nations’ SDGs, can only be accomplished if we all hold ourselves accountable and if we show that we’re willing to fight for changes leading to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable world. Although what we have is a situation that may potentially be world-ending, we are still given a choice, a chance to change things and turn it around. Together, we can weather this storm.

WRITTEN BY MARY DELA CRUZ
EDITED BY JILL ANG AND JILLIAN MEMES
GRAPHICS BY sophia arespacochaga

REFERENCES

CNN Philippines (2022, October 31). ‘Paeng’ leaves 101 dead, over 2M residents affected
https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/10/31/paeng-death-toll.html

Jay Pagkatotohan. (2022, October 6). Top 10 Strongest Typhoons in the Philippines That Caused a Lot of Damage. https://www.moneymax.ph/lifestyle/articles/infographic-the-10-deadliest-typhoons-in-the-philippines

Met Office. (2022, June 10). Causes of climate change. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/climate-change/causes-of-climate-change

Overview of Greenhouse Gases. (2022, May 16). US EPA.
https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases


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