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Year in review: Environment stories that made us rethink humans’ relationship with nature

Year in review: Environment stories that made us rethink humans’ relationship with nature

  • In 2020, everything that happened is connected to our continuous neglect of the environment. Will we do better next year?

COVID-19, deforestation, forest fires, rising temperatures, extinction, super typhoons—what do these seemingly “natural” occurrences have in common? Human hands in its creation or at least its amplification.

Our isolation has laid bare conditions that have always been there but were only made visible to us as we take shelter. Consequently, the pandemic has overshadowed these pressing issues. So to remind us of what happened, what’s happening and what might happen, here’s a rundown of environmental stories that unfolded this year.

What happened?

COVID-19 pandemic

Photo courtesy of

The first case of nCov or the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the Philippines in January. It was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March

Benguet is burning

Photo courtesy of BFPCAR Bokod Facebook

A nine-day forest fire happened in Kabayan, Benguet in February, destroying at least 20 hectares of pine tree-abundant land

Coastal bleaching?

Photo courtesy of John Angue on Facebook

Manila Bay’s murky waters turned turquoise blue almost like the world-famous Boracay beach for reasons unknown

Sierra Madre mountain range seen from Manila

Photo by Johair Siscar Addang on Facebook

During enhanced community quarantine, a stunning view of the Sierra Madre mountain range was seen in plain and clear sight from Metro Manila

Homonhon Island mining continues amid COVID

homonhon island mining
Photo courtesy of Daipen Montes Facebook

The weekend before Holy Week, a Panama-registered vessel entered the island despite lockdown to transport mined ores

Antipolo and Tanay forest fires

Photo by Masungi Georeserve

Last Apr. 7, a forest fire occurred around Antipolo and Tanay areas amid the Luzon-wide community lockdown

Hot temperatures in the country

Photo from Unsplash

Mar. 29 recorded one of the hottest temperatures in Metro Manila in 2020: 35.5°C. Meanwhile in May, 40.1°C air temperature was recorded in Echague, Isabela

Real estate developer clears Baguio pine

Photo handout PGIS-PIO

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) permitted Vista Residences to cut down 53 old-growth Benguet pine and one Norfolk pine trees in Baguio City

Plant poaching flourishes

Art by Clarisse Alfonso

According to DENR data, the number of reports of plant poaching soared during quarantine due to the demand for exotic and rare plants as home ornaments

Manila Bay gets a controversial face lift

inquirer manila bay dolomite white sand
Photo by Marianne Bermudez/Inquirer

Truckloads of pulverized dolomite rocks have been imported from Cebu to cover up Manila Bay’s greyish shore

Ostriches run amok in QC village

Art by Leven Sangalang

Two ostriches were seen running through Narra Ave. in Mapayapa Village 3. One of them eventually died from stress and became adobo

Typhoon Ulysses ravages Metro Manila, Tuguegarao

climate change flood
Photo from Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte

Less than two weeks since tropical storm Rolly (Goni) and tropical storm Siony (Atsani) battered parts of Luzon, typhoon Ulysses came barrelling through Metro Manila, Rizal and Tuguegarao among other locales

What can we do better?

Listen to experts

manila bay crowd
Photo courtesy of Inquirer

Instead of castigating scientists for “exorbitant” fees, the government should work hand in hand with experts to come up with better solutions rather than just band-aid remedies.

Listen to Indigenous peoples

Photo by Easter Canoy

Blaming people for resorting to moving houses and using native materials to build homes is counterproductive. Indigenous peoples have been at the forefront of environmental conservation for ages. Instead of taking away their ancestral lands, there should be an exchange of knowledge and resources between them and the government.

Demand action through policies

Use your voice to pressure officials into passing laws that prioritize the environment and the future of its people. One step is to continue demanding for the declaration of a climate emergency.

Do your part at home

Art by Leven Sangalang

Small acts count. We know this because we asked leading environmentalists and advocates on what things we can do to mitigate and/or adapt to changing climate. For starters, consider composting at home instead of throwing everything into landfills. © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.