“Think globally, act locally.”

This, Environment and Natural Resources Ramon J.P. Paje urged the Filipinos in addressing both economic and environmental issues facing the country and the world today.

“With the continuing rise in oil prices brought about by political instabilities in the Middle East countries, it is but necessary for us Filipinos as a nation to make adjustments in our lifestyle so as to minimize the impact of rising cost of living to our families. As our forefathers would tell us, “kung maiksi ang kumot, matuto tayong bumaluktot,” Paje said.

“If there’s anything that we need to do in the face of these uncertainties, such should have reduced impact on the environment or, that would reduce our carbon footprint,” Paje continued.

Carbon footprint refers to the totality of the impact or effect of all activities done by an organization, group or individual on the environment. It covers all greenhouse gases that each individual or organization may emit in the atmosphere as a result of its activities.

Paje said that Filipinos, whether they be in the homeland or overseas, should set an example to always be mindful of one’s carbon footprint as the continuing increase of carbon emissions in the atmosphere will trigger greater global warming and climate change.

Citing that the country’s problem with garbage remains a serious concern due to the methane released from open dumpsites, Paje said that a simple act of waste segregation or separating the recyclables from compostable by each household can have “a very far-reaching contribution” to the global effort to slow down global warming. “Ang basurang nakatambak ay isa sa mga pangunahin pinanggagalingan ng methane, isang uri ng greenhouse gas na nagpapainit sa ating mundo. Pag uminit ang mundo, ang matinding tama ay hindi sa mga malalaking bansa kundi sa maliliit na islang-bansa tulad ng Pilipinas.”

According to him, the Philippines as well as other small islands the world over have long been identified by scientists and experts to be at the receiving end of all these catastrophic impacts of climate change. “We have already seen the impact of climate change with typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila and other similar typhoons in the Visayas and Mindanao. With all the fighting taking place in the Middle East, the nuclear crisis in Japan, the volcanic eruptions everywhere – there is no doubt all these contribute to increased global emissions that would have far greater impact on the Philippines and other small islands the world over,” Paje explained.

Reports indicate that the carbon footprint of the Philippines is equal to 0.8 metric tons per capita or 0.3 of one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Paje appealed that while the country’s contribution to the global gas emission may be miniscule compared with bigger, affluent economies, “this should not stop us from being environmentally-conscious, from adopting ‘green’ acts as every little act of either lowering or offsetting our carbon footprint is very important to the totality of human intervention to mitigate climate change.”

Paje also cited the increasing oil prices as an opportunity to reduce one’s carbon footprint. “I am not saying that the increasing cost of gasoline and diesel is good, but let us approach the problem on a positive note. Why don’t we take this as an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint?” he asked.

According to him, the steep oil prices should motivate each Filipinos to adopt ways to conserve gas and electricity, not only in the workplace but more so in the house. “We can always do something to reduce our energy consumption like turning off lights that are not in use, hanging our clothes to dry instead of using dryer which consumes electricity,” he said, noting that sun-dried clothes smell good and refreshing.

Based on the 2008 “Philippines in Figures” published by the National Statistics Office (NSO), the most common appliances in the Filipino household are radio and television set.

As of 2000, over 11 million Filipino families owned a radio, while eight million had a television set. Other common household appliances are refrigerators (present in about five million Filipino households), washing machines and video cassette recorders (each of which is present in about three million homes.)

Power ratings, measured in watts, show the running capacity of appliances: radio has a 5-watt power rating, while stereo has between 10 and 30 watts, a television’s power rating is listed as ranging generally from 100-350 watts.

Refrigerators, however, are the most “electric dependent” item in a household as it has to be plugged in 24/7. Air-conditioners, which have power ratings ranging from 400 to a whopping 3,500 watts, also use large amounts of energy. This household item is, however, not yet as a fixture in Filipino households as transistor radios, according to the 2008 NSO survey.

But Paje reiterated that small steps like simply unplugging appliances and other electrical items when not in use are “small but great acts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Akala mo maliliit lamang, subalit napakalaki ang tulong na magagawa mo sa mundo,” added Paje citing as a very good example the idle cell phone chargers which when not unplug still consume 25 percent of their energy wattage consumption.

According to NSO data, the number of Filipinos who own cellular phones more than doubled in the last 10 years from around 400,000 in 1990 to 2 million in 2000.