Viewed through a snowstorm of plum blossoms outside my window, the world looks calm and pretty.
Today’s scene tells me why we ignore the alarm call of environmental thinker Guy Dauncey. Springtime is bouncing along happily toward summer in our gardens, so why fret about the ugly faraway stuff?
But Dauncey has an answer and a challenge. In the April issue of Econews, he uses the image of the Titanic to light up the denial within wealthy nations of an obvious future of disaster and collapse.
“It seems there is no one on the bridge,” he writes, “or if there is, they are either drunk, or too busy worrying about their re-election prospects or their next bonus to see the signals, which are flashing emergency red in the Iceberg Ahead section of the controls.”
Dauncey’s analysis has always been restrained and temperate, but policymakers paid no attention, so he is talking more loudly.
Even after that, I doubt that deniers and political leaders will respond, not until trouble hits us on the head and shakes up our brains.
The Econews alarm-signal looms up clearly through the flowers and sunshine. Partly human-caused global warming due to the combustion of oil and coal, and additional negligence and greed, is causing Arctic ice to melt and release greenhouse-gas methane.
The 100-million-year-old Amazon rainforest is on track to die in 88 years. Topsoil is washing away through deforestation and destructive farming. About 90 per cent of the large fish in the sea have disappeared; and the dominant one per cent of the world’s people are grabbing and hoarding an excessive share of the wealth.
Beyond the pages of Econews, lobbying mastermind Jack Abramoff, sent to jail for corruption, told TV’s 60 Minutes how he and colleagues and sponsors (such sponsors as oil, tobacco, pharmaceutical and health-insurance corporations) buy the votes of U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen.
Similar revolving-door exchanges paralyze social and environmental problem solving in other “democratic” nations, including Canada.
So what can we do about all that, assuming that we are moved at last to take action?
My friend and neighbour Ron MacIsaac, who is a lawyer and political campaigner, showed us one useful tactic. He and many like-minded people saved a chunk of irreplaceable ancient forest by blocking the bulldozers and chain-saws with their bodies.
The oldest old-timers from Duncan can remember when the road to Lake Cowichan was lined with enormous trees like those that used to stand in Cathedral Grove on the road to Port Alberni. Loggers felled the big trees all the way from the Lake Cowichan road to the banks of the Cowichan River.
If they had scaled back the size of the harvest, we would now have an asset worth thousands of times more than the petty profits that the loggers of that day scraped together.
But there were no Ron MacIsaacs back then.
The constituency of tomorrow, inhabited by our great-grandchildren, does not elect any MPs or MLAs. Such people as Dauncey and MacIsaac stand in for those imaginary politicians.
—G.E. Mortimore is a Langford-based writer. and a regular columnist with the Gazette.