This post was updated on June 2019.
An article written by Neil Irwin on the New York Times explored the differences that might happen if sociologists had as much influence as economists.
I write a brief perspective on the changes that may happen if environmental scientists had as much influence as economists in the Philippines.
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Environmental science and the Philippines
Environmental science provides a systems perspective. In a system, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
With an environmental science perspective, all the phenomena that happen in the four spheres are considered in recommending resolutions to issues.
Living in a disaster-prone country and natural resource haven like the Philippines, Filipino environmental scientists have a great opportunity to contribute to sustainable development.
Filipino environmental scientists must participate in generating economic outcomes that are ecologically beneficial for present and succeeding generations.
Resolving issues on unemployment, poverty, and miseducation requires more than economics.
Environmental scientists reveal how insufficient income and job insecurity results to the destruction of nature.
Poverty can push people towards illegal activities because of lack of economic options.
It is no accident that poachers and illegal loggers are mostly small-scale or individual. These people are taking risks frequently either for their subsistence or because of their employment in high-paying corporations.
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Environmental science and local planning
If environmental scientists were largely influential, a lot of the issues in the Philippines will be viewed differently.
As an example, with environmental science local planning becomes more scientific. Interventions are backed with data.
Adding a perspective of an environmental scientist provides local planners multi-dimensional decision-making.
For instance, it is not enough to say that a flood is expected to be destructive.
The government must know how many communities are exposed to the flood, how capable these communities are to the effects of flooding, and when flooding hits, how quickly the economy can be restored.
Population is the root of all environmental issues.
A shift towards urban and environmental planning that is informed with environmental science has already happened in the Philippines.
Weather forecasts now provide more details.
For example, daily temperature readings now include heat indices to convey more realistic human experiences.
National and regional disaster drills are periodically conducted.
The knowledge of The Big One instigated preparedness in Metro Manila. Storm surges have been included in local capability seminars.
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Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction are required to be included in local development plans since 2010.
There are avenues for greater involvement of environmental scientists in the development of our society.
With ears listening to environmental science, our decision-making can become more systematic.