Saturday, November 3, 2018

My Log 659 November 3 2018: Chronicles from the Tenth Decade: 95 News about our deteriorating home, Earth, is piling around our ears, thick and fast. In the coming months we need some spectacular wisdom, and action

Let’s imagine something quite outlandish, that, when Europeans first arrived in Canada to settle it, they turned out to be not the ignorant and arrogant pricks entombed in their absurd religious notions who unfortunately first set foot on this continent, but rather a cultivated, thoughtful people, curious about those they discovered to be living here, willing to accept and learn from them, and anxious to make their transition to North America as peaceful and painless as possible.
Such a people would have immediately spotted the remarkable fund of knowledge that the original inhabitants had accumulated during their millenia as residents in the unforgiving climate of Canada, and would, since they were a cultivated and thoughtful people, have so arranged affairs as to make their own entry into Canadian life such as to disturb the original inhabitants to the least possible extent. This, of course, is just an idle dream, because the newcomers arrived with their guns and weaponry, and their even more formidable array of ignorance, intolerance and religious bigotry, which enabled them, against the evident fact that they would have perished in the first winter without the help of the indigenous inhabitants,  to conclude that they were in every way superior to the original inhabitants, who, in the eyes of the newcomers, hardly merited the description of human beings at all. Thus, instead of sending out parties to learn everything they could from the First Nations, they sallied forth with the intention of tricking the trusting locals into making deals under which the newcomers believed the locals had virtually handed over to them their title to whichever of their lands the newcomers might find valuable in pursuit of their grossly distorted system of values.
All of this is more or less in the realm of idle speculation since the Canadian attitudes towards their indigenous people, and to their northern lands, has been that the original inhabitants are simply to be moved around if the place they are living might be needed for mining or some Euro-Canadian use, and (in relation to the land) that it is okay to leave it in the hands of its original inhabitants until such time as it might be needed by the invaders, at which point in past times the people have been simply pushed aside, or, as in the modern context, they are simply bought off, their acquiescence in whatever the invaders are proposing being  bought with money.
This is a sorry story, and the only reason I have raised it in this form is because I read just this week of a proposal to establish a Stewardship and Guardianship programme over a plateau of 14,250 square kilometres of land in the neighbourhood of Great  Slave Lake, the federal government working with a local branch of the Dene people, who take their name from the river Dehcho, the idea being to determine how best they can develop this land under their own control, using their own qualities and capacities in doing so.
This sounds like something very close to what I have always thought might have been tried across the extent of Canada from the first, if only the European invaders had been of a different, less aggressive and more thoughtful cast of mind. It has taken us just over 400 years to get around to being more or less civilized.
Well, we are very close to gathering the whirlwind from this past neglect, as one after another reports by leading scientists tumble into our ken, revealing that we are getting very close to the time at which the Earth will take no more abuse and begin to hit us back.
A couple of days ago when I was writing my previous Chronicle ( see Chronicle 94), I intended to draw some severe attention to some additional items relevant to climate warming that have recently come under more notice, but I got deflected on to one of my favorite subjects, which is the remarkable environmental knowledge I discovered among the few remaining hunters operating in the Canadian economy in the 1960s-70s. 
So let’s get back to these recent revelations by our leading scientists as to exactly where we are in the fight to save our climate from deteriorating to such an extent that life as we know it today will scarcely be possible any more.
I have touched on the permafrost danger in Chronicle  93, but just to recapitulate: it is reliably estimated that twice as much carbon is locked into permanently frozen ground as has been emitted into the atmosphere over millenia by human activities. And already permafrost across the global north is already melting, with completely unforeseeable results. In Alaska they are wondering why trees have suddenly taken on a surprising lean.
I have touched on the alarming decline recently discovered in animal populations, which on average, are said by the World Wildlife Fund to have declined 60 per cent in number, since 1970. What is the likely end of this? Are we to be the only surviving species on earth?   If that is what our climate-deniers have in mind, it seems assured that they are positing an unsustainable future for us.
One after the other, desperate tidings are staring  us in the face. Another report says that the oceans have been absorbing 60 per cent more heat than was previously thought, which is why these waters are rapidly becoming so acidic as to kill off marine life (e.g. the coral reefs). This report does not just give us 12 years to shape up, as did the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These more recent investigators say that the world must somehow or other thrash out a new deal for Nature in the next two years or we humans could be en route to documenting  our own extinction.  So warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief, Cristiana Pașca Palmer.
She is preparing us for the major biodiversity conference to be held later in November in Egypt, and is hoping for some spectacular result, at least equal to the Paris accord on the global climate agreed by 194 nations in 2015. (This is one of the international agreements from which the United States is threatening to withdraw.)
In a major article just published in the journal Nature two  scientists, James E. M. Watson and James R. Allan, make clear the immense responsibility that rests on Canada in this whole struggle to preserve the earth from the damaging effect of drastic global warming.
 They say that 20 countries contain 94% of the world’s remaining wilderness (excluding the high seas and Antarctica). More than 70% is in just five countries — Russia, Canada, Australia, the United States and Brazil. Canada is the second largest country on Earth, with huge areas of wilderness which these authors say are central to hopes for the future of a biodiverse global ecosystem. If this doesn’t put a huge responsibility on the shoulders of every Canadian, given our small numbers compared with Russia and the United States, I don’t know what would. “Thus,” write the authors,  “the steps these nations take (or fail to take) to limit the expansion of roads and shipping lanes, and to rein in large-scale developments in mining, forestry, agriculture, aquaculture and industrial fishing, will be critical.” (Editor’s note for Mr. Trudeau: they might have added pipelines to this list.)
The coming conference in Egypt, including as it does signatory nations to the Convention on Biodiversity, intra-government organizations such as the admirable International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), non-government organizations, and the scientific community, will be working towards planning for the protection of biodiversity, and “We urge participants at the meeting to include a mandated target for wilderness conservation. In our view, a bold yet achievable target is to define and conserve 100% of all remaining intact ecosystems.”
Get that, Canadians. These international experts want every piece of wilderness in Canada to be permanently protected from development. That should be almost possible if the public gets behind it.

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