Grassroots movements have sprouted all over the world in an attempt to push for their respective advocacies. Many would say that this is the power of collective action. What we call the "bottom-up" approach consists of these tiny sparks of change at a local level that brings about ripples that eventually drive the decision-makers to flow with the waves. With grassroots actions, the people are empowered to actively advocate for change in government policies or projects.
Yet, actions by executive decision-makers to address the climate crisis remain stagnant, stunted at most. The political pursuits of these officials hinder advancements in climate change mitigation. The situation is even more vicious in developing countries, especially with an unstable political climate and degrading economy. Ironically, those with the power to change the system do not feel the direct effects of this environmental crisis, thus remaining "neutral" at most and disbelieving at worst. Some would even claim that climate change is a hoax despite the evidence at hand.
Meanwhile, those without power are affected the most. They would lose their homes, lifestyle, and culture, as rising sea levels would drown islands. Increasing global temperature brings forth harsher climates, violent natural disasters, and destructive storms. All because the people above refuse to help. At the cries of these people, they remain silent. This injustice is what we need to work on.
The good news is that since this imbalanced system is something we ourselves created in the first place, we can still do something about it. In many countries, such as the Philippines, people elect government officials to lead and regulate policies. However, skewed mentality due to many decades of corruption has created a system of chaos, where the people are subdued and the perpetrators of injustice run free. As a result, their unstable political climate make these countries unable to protect themselves from the global climate crisis we face today.
But lest we forget: the power lies in the people, not the government. We can elect political leaders but we can also remove them from their position. The power that the people hold is something that is often underestimated by the people themselves. Remember, collective action is effective not only in politics but also in ecological issues. The banning of plastic straws, the promotion of eco-bags—these are small victories we can call our own. And we can do so much more.
We can initiate dialogues with world leaders in addressing coastal pollution and erosion, especially in the Philippines where majority of the communities live near coastal areas. We can promote scientific research on potential alternatives to lessen our greenhouse gas emissions. The government can put up projects to develop infrastructure that is more resistant to disasters, such as typhoons, earthquakes, and flooding. Restoration projects can be prioritized first, especially our tropical forests, wetlands, and marine ecosystems. With the right perspective, these projects would benefit our environment, economy, and society. With the right leaders, these actions could thrive and prosper without compromising the health and safety of the people.
In politics, voting does more than electing leaders. It also elects their advocacies, proposed projects, values, and beliefs. When we vote for our leaders, we put our trust in them to create a cascade of changes in our unbalanced system. The bottom-up decision-making approach works. It just boils down to the people's drive to address the climate crisis.
We are people capable of change. Vote responsibly. If not for ourselves, then for our home.
About the Author
Judiel Marie is a second-year BS in Environmental Science student at the Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines. Her interests lie in the interrelationships of disciplines involved with environmental solutions, including the climate crisis economic, societal, and moral aspects.