The future IS ours to see

May 6, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Doug Skeates

In contrast to Doris Day’s well-known tune questioning what lies ahead.  Every decision made today predicts the outcome to be faced by generations to follow.  Actions taken over recent generations are increasing global warming leaving us with an ever-rising temperature, world-wide melting glaciers and long-existing arctic ice sheets, rising ocean levels, drought conditions restricting productivity of agricultural lands, increasing severity of hurricane impact, devastating fires, changing ocean currents, etc.  All contribute to climate change and living conditions for mankind today.

Scientists have been warning us for several decades of increasingly dangerous global impacts of global warming affecting climate conditions and particularly quality of life.  In a recent newsletter the David Suzuki Foundation reminded us that environmental conditions don’t just refer to something out there.  Humans are one component of the environment right here and now.  Aboriginal ideology considers that aspects of nature relate to spirits of past generations, hence considered as members of the family.   We depend on the elements for our quality of life, the air we breathe, water for drinking and hygiene and soil in which we grow our food.  We are the recipients of gifts provided by the Creator and are responsible to ensure those gifts are there for ‘the next seven generations’.

With the intent to achieve this for several generations ahead, most of the world’s leaders have agreed to develop policies limiting global temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C above 2008 levels.  Many countries have initiated moves toward such a goal.  A common approach has been large scale tree planting efforts.  One of the outstanding efforts has been the Green Belt Movement in Kenya founded by Wangari Maathai which to date has achieved the planting of over 40 million trees for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize.   The Canadian Prime Minister pledged the planting of two billion trees by 2030 which by simple arithmetic would commit the country to establishment of 200 million in 2021.

Various engineering proposals to reduce the green house blanket would cost mega-millions of dollars compared to turning to nature for a solution.  By far the least expensive is increasing carbon-absorbing forests and/or protection of existing foliage.  The emphasis on tree planting is significant for reducing emissions over the next hundred years but of greater importance is reducing the green-house effect already in the atmosphere.  Scientists have indicated that actions are essential over the next ten years to avoid conditions beyond the planet’s ability to change matters for the future.  Trees, like all green plants, remove carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis storing it in trunks as wood as well as in forest soils while protecting the ecosystem. and providing shade.

There has been an undercurrent of opposition to the economic orientation of global society, stressing the importance of a balance with the environment (Our Common Future, 1977).  This reached a crescendo when millions of folk around the world took to the streets with a cry to occupy Wall St. hence control of the economy by “the richest 1%” toward the end of the last century.  More currently a Swedish teen ager, Greta Thunberg, headed up massive dissent with a strike by the school-age population demanding action for nations to address the problem of global warming. 

North American prosperity has been largely based on profit from harvesting what nature has freely provided.  At the same time enlightened voices in society have contributed valuable examples of sound ecological practices such as converting desert lands of the Oak Ridges Moraine in Ontario to renewed prosperity.  It is ironical that corporate actions in northern forests have resulted in the closure of pulp and paper plants and communities dependent on them for employment.  The result? reduced clearing of large areas of forest cover. Standing trees are essential to contribute to the nation’s global warming endeavours.

Canada is at the forefront of a war between those concerned about the changing climate facing future generations of young folk and others who favour immediate financial gain. Canadians are part of the ‘now’ population aware that it is too late to concentrate policies aimed at the distant future. It is becoming ever-more apparent that ‘future’ action is essential now.

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