Doing something about it

August 2, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Doug Skeates

In the past couple of decades people the world over have become aware of the increasingly dangerous state of the environment, especially rapid climate changes due primarily to lifestyles of over 7 million souls. 

Scientists continually warn society about the climbing level of emissions in the atmosphere causing global warming, resulting in melting of ice in glaciers and north and south arctic watersheds, along with rising ocean levels and desertification in many areas.   Resultant loss of agricultural lands and increasing lack of food are major world problems.  Banning the burning of fossil fuels, i.e. elimination of carbon emission generation, is the commonest alternative proposed.

Solutions to problems have taken various forms depending on various scientists and policies of leaders in different countries.  One particular effort was addressed by Paul Hawken (Drawdown, 2017), pulling together 100 initiatives from around the world into what the editor described as “The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming”.

Each submission either addresses means of limiting generation of emissions and/or reducing their concentration which are already polluting the atmosphere.  A major emphasis on the latter relates to Nature’s process of photosynthesis, combining carbon from CO2 in the air with hydrogen from water using solar energy to produce green foliage and particularly wood, hence store-housing carbon organically.

The methodology described in the book, soliciting and publishing a range of experiences, is worth considering for other ecological problems such as waste disposal. 

Currently society must cope with massive pollution of disposable plastics.  The easy way out for mankind has been either landfill or dumping such non-biodegradable materials into the ocean.  Now the world is facing tremendous build-up of such wastes affecting fish die-off hence the severe loss of a quantity of one of our major supplies of food. 

Again numerous solutions are proposed as with air quality, some trying to restrict further contamination and others applying various means to reduce what exists today.  Some countries have banned production of non-renewable plastics while some scientists have developed processes for converting them to other useable forms.

One of the most interesting approaches has been efforts made to redistribute unwanted products to those seeking to acquire them.  In some countries exchange ‘malls’ have been established where such products can be picked up free or at minimal cost.  Others have instituted sorting centres whereby a high proportion of rejected items such as paper or metals can be eliminated from waste processes to be used subsequently by various recycling industries.  Maintaining productivity of land through such approaches as community forests has helped to keep a high level of prosperity for residents.

This approach has bearing on political problems as well as ecological.  The current trade war with the American administration suggests actions on the part of both individuals and the business community.  The one serious element that is being demonstrated is our reliance on governmental decision-making in a single country. 

We have two lessons to be learned, the need for greater self-reliance and more emphasis on  market diversity.  Neither requires national legislation as much as action at grass roots level.

In fact, many of society’s solutions could be better addressed at community and/or individual levels than by government.  This applies especially to our stewardship of resources freely supplied by Mother Nature, to what we eat, drink or breathe, as well as use of energy. 

Land, water, air and energy are provided at our doorsteps for our consumption at no cost, requiring personal effort and determination as well as decision-making re implementation of infrastructures needed for their achievement.

Perhaps the U.S. political scene has provided some valuable lessons for Canadians.  Our present reliance on American markets and foreign investment is proving to limit national independence with frightening implications for our economy. 

There is need for a thorough review of many examples of actions being taken in various communities in countries around the world including evaluation of efforts taken by different scientists to achieve those considered best for application in Canada.

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