Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sustainability begins with me

There was a chilling story on one of the TV news broadcasts last night. Can't remember which one. When I tell you, you're going to think it's one of those end-of-the-worlder's fundamentalist stories, but it happened in Africa - Somalia, I think - and it's probably the first time I've seen such a story reported in the international media and it almost makes me want to start stockpiling things.

In short, it was about a man in one of those drought-devastated areas who was attacked by men with machine guns - they shot up some of his family and (wierdly) his animals that had not yet died from starvation and drought to get hold of his land, which is one of the few pieces of land around that neck of the woods (woops, no woods there) that still has some grass and a little well or stream providing water. THEY KILLED HIM FOR HIS FOOD AND WATER. Got that?

One only has to look around for stories about unusual weather that has destroyed the food crops we're used to finding in our stores - tomatoes from California, oranges from Florida, wheat from the prairies, garlic in Asia, you probably heard many more and watched food prices jump accordingly, or saw some products disappear off the shelves.

In Vancouver, it is hard to convince anyone that water will be the next oil, not only for drinking, but for irrigation and hydro power, because, well... we have so much of it. But in August this year, Vancouver was hotter and drier than ever before in history. Scary thing is, here in Lions Bay, the new Village Manager reports that water usage levels in August remained exactly the same, even after water restrictions were introduced. Of course no-one ENFORCED these restrictions, heaven forbid we "whip" people into complying, as one resident termed it. It's as if no-one can see that only a united effort will ensure a future for us all... CO2 knows no borders, so climate change isn't about one country or another, same as it's not about one neighbour doing his bit, but not the guy next door.

The point is, we're in this together, like it or not. We only have this one planet. No matter who destroys it, we all are doomed unless we start making it well enough to sustain us going forward.

Irritating, to say the least, for those of us who are doing our bit. Nope, that's not nearly the right word... infuriating, maybe? Terrifying, in those wee wakeful hours of the night?

But even if you "don't believe" in climate change, if you extrapolate the story of the African man above to its logical conclusion, if we don't act now and food crops fail and water resources dry up, there will come a time when some will kill others for food and water all around the world in order to survive, just as polar bears are now known to be resorting to cannibalism in order to survive.

How can you not see this? And how can you not do your part? It's not difficult, truly.

So here's a little ditty in the making from me. It has no music yet and there are only a couple of verses (or maybe a verse and a bridge, or verse and chorus, I don't know yet). And those who know me know I am not really advocating we forget about the polar bears and the whales, in fact, a percentage of my business profits will go to World Wildlife Fund Canada to help protect the polar bears and more.

In this song I am trying to appeal to those selfish individuals who think "they" should do something about climate change, or more commonly, they chide "the government" for not doing anything (including you, Mr Ignatieff and Mr Layton).

Who cares what happens at Copenhagen? Each one of us has the power to make a difference, no matter how simple, and cut our CO2 emmission and energy usage. Drive less, switch off the lights, reduce your waste, recycle, grow food not flowers, cook in a pot on the range and not your oven, hang clothes to dry and get rid of the dryer, select the recycled paper in Staples above the other stuff, it's all about simple choices, and it starts with me, and it starts with you. Tell a friend (or a stranger, except mostly they don't like it very much, but your friends will still love you).

Anyway, here's the song thus far. Feel free to suggest some verses.

Yup, I could wait for "they", or wait for "them",
Maybe I should wait for the govern-ment?
But in the end, in reality,
Sustainability begins with ME.

Forget about the polar bears, forget about the whales...
what you gonna do when YOUR food crops fail?
What you gonna do when your water's all gone?
It's already real, just look around.