Ecological, Environment Righteous Rant

Last updated 1998.01.28

We are destroying the environment, killing off species by the dozens, and eventually we will make the planet uninhabitable even for humans. The evidence is irrefutable and faces us at every turn, yet we choose to ignore it. Why? Is it because we don't believe it? Or is it because we feel that as individuals we cannot make a difference?

How can we not believe our environment is in jeopardy? Consider:
- global warming
- the ozone hole
- cities that have to issue smog alerts because the air is literally poisonous
- beaches closed to swimmers for years at a time because the water is too polluted
- the wholesale clearing of rain forests
- the continuing extinction of endangered species
- wide tracts of land placed under permanent quarantine because of spills of dioxin (Italy), nuclear waste (Russia),
- oil spills like the Exxon Valdez
... and the list continues.

Consider this item in Maclean's magazine (April 21, 1997, page 10):

Weather at its Canadian worst

It is not just their imaginations. Depending upon where in the country they live, Canadians really have been experiencing some of the most extreme weather on record. After 234 mm (about 92 inches) of rain in Vancouver made March that city's wettest ever, residents of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba were digging themselves out of some of April's severest snow storms. And now, Winnipeggers are bracing for what some fear could becomd the "flood of the century". In all, David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada in Toronto, says in the past 15 months the nation has been dealt the greatest spate of extremes he has seen in his 30 years on the job. While those conditions have some scientists debating whether global warming is finally starting to affect the world's weather systems, Phillips is not yet ready to say. "In 10 years, we may be able to look back and say whether it was just natural variability or the start of a long-term, abused climate."
This is not just the "greatest spate of extremes" in the past 30 years, it is a collection of extreme weather events without parallel since we have recorded weather in Canada. As for taking 10 years to look back and see if this is the beginning of global warming effects or not, imagine how much additional damage we will do in that 10 years if this is the beginning of those effects and we not start making changes now.

Do you feel that individuals cannot make a significant contribution, or that it is not your problem? If you breathe the air, live on the planet surface, drink water or eat food, it is your problem - you cannot escape it. Individuals can make a difference. It is primarily the actions of individuals that has caused the current situation - individuals driving their cars, individuals heating and cooling their homes and businesses, individuals in command of oil tankers, individuals dumping pollutants into lakes, rivers, oceans and drainage systems, individuals sending their garbage to landfilll sites, and on and on. People made the mess - people will have to clean it up or suffer the consequences. I am not suggesting you have to sell your car and your house, take a vow of poverty and run around on the ocean in a small boat trying to protect marine mammals from whalers and fishing boats. All I am suggesting is that you try a few small changes (and maybe some bigger ones later) to start to make a difference. By the way, most of these suggestions will help you save money, as well as save the planet. That is not an amazing coincidence when you think about it. Conservation is about reducing consumption, and reducing consumption usually means reducing spending.

As J. C. Jenkins writes in "The Humanure Handbook":
I don't understand humans. We line up and make a lot of noise about big environmental problems like incinerators, dumps, acid rain, and pollution. But we don't understand that when we add up all the tiny environmental problems each of us creates, we end up with those big environmental dilemmas. Humans are content to blame someone else, like government or corporations, for the messes we create, and yet we continue doing the same things ourselves day in and day out that have created the problems. Sure corporations create pollution. If they do, don't buy their products. If you have to buy their products (gasoline for example), keep it to the minimum. Sure municipal waste incinerators pollute the air. Stop throwing trash away. Minimize your production of waste. Recycle. Buy food in bulk and avoid packaging waste. Simplify. Take a few months off work each year and don't spend money. Turn off your TV. Grow your own food. Plant a garden. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don't, who will?

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