Saturday, April 20, 2013

Earth Day hits the wall of reality

Environmental issues have filled news headlines time and again, resulting in nothing more than empty and hollow rhetoric as response from all political parties. It has become increasingly difficult to understand where does our future rest. No one can deny the facts surrounding climate change and its consequences, or the need to stem the flow of contaminates, whether it is into our landfills, our oceans or the air we breathe. Conservation of the various species of life that we share this planet with as an issue of serious consideration has raised the eyebrows of a number of journalists around the world. Sadly those eyebrows simply grow tired and bored with little left than the echoes of anguish from slaughtered beasts.

Where are we really reaching as man? We are intelligent and resourceful. Today we no longer can fall on the defence of ignorance. Our media alone has thrown enough catchy phrases at us such as “our eco-footprint,” and more. Recycling has become a colour-coded art form, and eco-friendly products of varying types have paraded the runways of even our fashion magazines. Yet the reality is more alarming, we have changed very little. True our governments have provided environmental laws and legislation for public consumption. But enforcement has found itself influenced more by economics and political connections, rather than by a need to protect the very fabric of our future.

Today a new industry has risen through the ashes of public opinion. Hypocrisy has become a prominent trait and not only in government. A case in point is the US government with President Obama, rather than playing a violin he instead prefers the daisy petals, with 'he will, he will not' in relation to the Keystone XL Pipeline. In Canada the federal government under the helm of Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes the Clarke Gable attitude from Gone with the Wind. The Kyoto Accord dumped; desertification and its encroachment too expensive to think about and dumped; climate change and greenhouse gas emission targets treated like a nagging child and ignored; environmental protection hacked with the Omnibus Bill; and endangered or species at risk left open to slaughter for sport. Stephen Harper and Canada's federal government stands on a record to be proud of.

North America is not alone on the world stage of hypocrisy. South America is selling off its forests to China because of massive debt. In Africa a government has decided that decriminalizing the slaughter of Rhinos for their horn was the easy way out of enforcement of the law. Europe's unity couldn't find unity on the question of whether the oil from the Alberta oil sands was indeed bad for the whole issue of greenhouse gas emissions. They have deferred a decision in favour of more scientific evidence to appear. Although nature lashed out in its immense fury at Japan, it was greed and economics that helped facilitate a nuclear disaster that has had effect on neighbours across the Pacific Ocean along the west coast of North America. Then there is China, demanding all the rights to do as they please as an emerging economy, claiming that after all they did save the Panda from extinction.

Our environmental warriors have little to crow about. These organizations that put out the plate of donations, telling everyone who drops 10 or 20 bucks in that they will make a difference with their donation and save the future, have much to answer for. Public giants like David Suzuki take walks in the park with provincial political candidates, and then stroll through the clouds with federal political candidates. Dr. Rick Smith has taken his rubber ducky and dumped Environmental Defence to join the NDP think tank Broadbent Institute, but not before endorsing an NDP candidate in a political boxing match as the Executive Director of Environmental Defence. Our conservation giant the WWF had decided that there was not enough scientific data to protect the polar bear from being slaughtered for sport and trophies. Yet they all still have the collection plate out barking out how much they can do for our future and our environment.

A question should be raised to the brave anti-Keystone warriors such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Bill McKibben. How did they arrive at the protest rally? Was it on foot, and how did they leave the jailhouse after arrest, was it on a bicycle? Hypocrisy truly has become the currency in the name of environment.

Reality cannot be ignored simply because it is far from pleasant. In the melting pot of humanity, the silent majority still has immense power, it is only the will that needs to be ignited. Even in the dash for cash by our governments, big business and profiteers, the average individual can play an important role in the future of our Earth.

Earth Day began as an attempt to shine a light of awareness. Our modern society has evolved to a level that even the greatest idea dies a dismal death without promotion and advertising. Word of mouth simply cannot compete with the speed of modern technology in spreading a good idea. Each and every individual can contribute to a sustainable future through their own actions. Often the first steps are the smallest, at times shaky and unsteady, but together they are the beginnings of greater strides.

Our landfills are reaching capacity and we must rethink how to handle the enormous volume of waste we produce on a daily basis. Recycling is a key, plastics in particular cannot break down but can be reused. Attacking water bottling companies is simply based in hypocritical self interest, and in turn counter productive. It is all plastic whether it is water, pop or juice that needs to be recycled.

Greenhouse gas emissions are very real and the affects of climate change can be devastating. Our society is completely dependent on the production of oil. Alternatives have proven to be less popular. At the same time each and every individual carries the same responsibility. As we continue with our demand for oil, both business and government will continue to satisfy that demand. Without hesitation it is a vicious and dangerous whirlpool leading our Earth to potential disaster. All the conferences and good intentions have failed to date. Whether it is RIO or RIO+20, whether it is the Kyoto Accord or another unenforceable collective agreement, none have seen success. It will take courage for a leader to step forward and lead by example. At this time the European Union has an opportunity to take such a step, but it seems to also be faltering. Until such a leader is found we will continue to ride the whirlpool.

We share this Earth with many other living creatures, providing a balance between nature and man. Conservation and protection of life often faces angry demands of traditional rights, and even superstitious beliefs. At other times it is the simple blood lust that has remained a human trait since the dark ages. As we evolve and grow so does our understanding that the natural balance needs to be protected.

In the end it is a simple thought that can motivate man into action. The question to answer is what do you wish to hand over to the next generation? Our children will follow us into the future, and their future will be built on the past that we provide. It is a hand-me-down that we can be proud of. The decision is in our hands.

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