My mood as I prepare to celebrate Earth Day is mixed. I’m happy to be at home in northwestern Ontario, and able to participate in a local Earth Day Expo. The community response has been fabulous; there are over 30 tables of local “green” businesses and other groups booked to display their information. This is great, especially for a town of 5,000 that exists mainly because of the local mine that extracts gold out of the depths of the earth.
On the other hand, the lake thawed this week at least 2 days earlier than ever before; the norm is usually early to mid May. One long-time resident remarked at how little winter we had this year – usually the ice is on the lake from late November to May, but this year we had ice on the lake for only 3 months. The cross-country ski season was 6 weeks instead of 3 months in the winter of 2009 – 2010. Down the road, the Lakehead Conservation Authority is warning residents to reduce their water use by 10 % due to drought conditions, adding that this could be increased to 20% if there isn’t more precipitation soon.
As Ulamila Kurai Wragg, at the University of Toronto recently as part of the Climate Wise Women tour, said about climate change’s impacts on weather patterns and lack of fish in her Cook Island home, “This isn’t science, this is reality”.
It is time to wake up to the fact that “fossil” fuels are exactly that, a relic of a old age that has passed. As biologist and author Barbara Kingsolver said recently:
The term “fossil fuels” is not a metaphor or a simile. In the geological sense, it’s over. The internal combustion engine is so 20th Century. Now we can either shift away from a carbon-based economy, or find another place to live. Imagine it: we raised you on a lie. Everything you plug in, turn on or drive, the out-of-season foods you eat, the music in your ears. We gave you this world and promised you could keep it running on: a fossil substance. Dinosaur slime, and it’s running out. The geologists only disagree on how much is left, and the climate scientists are now saying they’re sorry but that’s not even the point. We won’t get time to use it all. To stabilize the floods and firestorms, we’ll have to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent, within a decade.
The challenge of Earth Day 2010 is to recognize the fact that radical change is coming. Our choice now is whether or not we will embrace the change before the floods and firestorms force it on us.
For more info on actions we can take, check out these links:
Enjoy Earth Day, and hug someone you love!