Commentary

Cutting down from a million

May 13, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

If a person has a heart attack that does not absolutely kill but gives a second chance at life, will that person give up smoking, drinking too much, get more exercise and stop eating all that fatty food that set the stage for the heart problem? 

Your child is overweight and borderline diabetic and a doctor tells you to stop the junk food, stay away from fast food places, cut out the sweets and feed you child whole food, raw fruit and vegetables and get that little darling outside walking, running, playing. Would you? Would you withstand the initial tantrums when the sugar load is cut way back and the veggies are on the plate, until they subside and the child’s health and weight both show signs of improvement? 

It may be pretty clear where I’m going with this: what, as a species, will we do to assure the survival of our planet? The numbers are in and they are really high: a million.

A million species of plant and animal life are on the block of extinction if we don’t clean up our act. Clear. Definitive. 

Scientists have been warning the world about this for 40 years, intensely since the 1970’s. Poets, painters and writers have been presenting the dangers of industrialization for over 100 years.

At this, the most dangerous moment in human history, we are still electing people who are flying in the face of this danger and campaigning to aggravate it. Here is how: the main reason for the rapid diminishment of life on earth is development, the destruction forever of essential forests, water sources and green spaces. This madness is destroying vital ecosystems and habitats.

Humans have no concept of living in harmony. All that matters is the monetary profits going into very few pockets.

Last week, students and family members, from tiny to grey-haired, marched on the office of our local Conservative MPP. The difference between this march and others, while talking about the same problem, is that these young people are the ones with the most to lose. This is the world they are being handed, like inheriting a ruined home and being told, “If you can fix it, you’ll have some place to live.”

Except that this is the whole world. If they can’t fix it, they have no place to live. What is heart-breaking, why their calls are so urgent, is that the solutions are known, are being practised by many nations, towns and individuals, all promoting the efficacy of living – on any scale – with clean and sustainable methods. Whole countries are growing their crops entirely organically. Cities are working to reduce and all but eliminate their carbon footprint, primarily in Europe. This is a time when optimism is possible because we know how to change and that profit is still viable. 

Yet, here in Canada, boasted to be “the best country in the world,” per capita, we are way off track. We are still arguing for pipelines, not for closing the tar sands. We are still spreading development out, encroaching on those precious green spaces and water sheds, as though it is alright to do so, which it is not.

We are still “doing business,” still “open for business” in ways that are not about change but about “business as usual” because business presses for this and politicians don’t believe/don’t care what scientists say.

So, let’s get really scared for a minute. Permafrost is the frozen ground in the Canadian north that has been frozen for billions of years. It is currently melting at a terrifying rate, much faster than anyone imagined could be the case. 

When permafrost melts, the ground falls apart, not like your country garden. The permafrost soil is hard because of ice and when that ice is gone, the soil simply crumbles. Where there were trees anchored in the permafrost, they collapse and fall into what becomes a sort of lake.

Here is the worst part: as the permafrost melts, it releases huge quantities of greenhouse gases into a world already overburdened.

If we do not curb and change our ways now, that will continue damaging the damaged and rush us further into catastrophe. Still, Canada is not sufficiently concerned or convinced about this because we are the land of having everything and not wanting to do business differently.

If it is true that our politicians are only the puppets of industry, as I believe they are, then marching outside a politician’s office may do little good. If political will is dictated by lobbyists and big business, then, it is they who must feel the pressure of the common person. The students, who are the heirs, must talk to their parents about how money is spent, for our strongest weapon is our wallets.

Having said that, we must wield our votes and our voices too, for real change, unrelentingly.



         

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