‘A little dab’ll do ya’

June 24, 2021   ·   0 Comments

An ad for hair cream many years ago is a valuable symbol for life.  When facing unruly hair conditions a small portion of cream rubbed onto one’s hair helps get things under control.  How often do we face simple problems that small efforts help toward solving the problem, or at least provide potential answers?

We have gazed into space for thousands of years hypothesizing what the moon was all about.  Towards the end of the last century a means was reached to determine access to the nearest interstellar body.  As Neil Armstrong stepped down from the space craft his comment, “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind”, a phrase that he made commonplace in the English language.  It answered questions pertaining to whether there was life at least on the moon.  This event was just a beginning.  Recent news recorded a landing on Mars, the nearest planet in our galaxy, while space scientists are constantly studying other galaxies in the universe millions of light years away from the small planet we call home.

For me, one valuable lesson in life pertained to the mess left on one check point following the Miles for Millions walk in Toronto.  Two members of the operations committee tackled the problem following the event, realizing what could be accomplished in only a couple of hours, picking up litter that several thousands of walkers had left on the ground at one such site.  In fact it was almost miraculous that such a massive endeavour as cleaning up after the one day’s event was possible.  The success story provided for the many volunteers, raising funds for third world development, was only one hurdle to be overcome i.e. cleaning up the various sites after The Walk.  This was one completed with considerable satisfaction.

Today society faces a much more daunting problem, a global situation threatening life on earth.  Global warming is limiting nature’s ability to cope with a rapidly changing environment.  The major changes being faced pose serious problems affecting all elements in the world and particularly the lives of over 7 billion people.  World leaders must agree on world-wide policies to limit the emerging global disaster.  At the grass roots level individuals in society must be involved with implementing essential action.

Awareness is the first step.  National leaders have pledged to promote policies which will hold the rise in global temperature to one and a half degrees above pre-industrial levels over the next 30 years.  Probably the most effective local action has been protests such as the world wide march to Occupy Wall St and the even greater youth strikes promoted by Greta Thunberg which involved the whole of society but especially school-aged students.  These are potential voters in future elections.  Awareness has been achieved but implementation of these intentions remains to be seen.

Forests show the greatest and least costly means of tackling the problem. Several countries including Canada have pledged to increase forest area over the next few years and some European countries are close to being carbon neutral in the near future.  What appears to have been overlooked is the greater importance of removal of carbon already in the atmosphere.  Scientists have reported that older forests have by far the greater potential for absorbing and storing carbon both in the form of annual rings of wood on each trunk and in ecological processes of the ecosystem.

Canada is home to much of the world’s Boreal Forest.  The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has reported the presence of over 87 billion standing trees, one third of the world’s population.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has urged countries to concentrate on preserving existing forests.  Preserving mature forests allows them to increase absorption and storage of carbon from CO2 in the atmosphere annually at rates far exceeding what can be achieved by newly developing plantations.  Such a simple act helps to accomplish short term results for society at almost no additional cost while at the same time reducing loss of stored carbon from exposure of the forest ecosystem, a loss associated with harvesting or clearing for changing social development.  Working with Nature is a more promising alternative, small but effective steps for mankind.

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