Environment at our mercy

It is easy to forget the sacrifices that those who went before us have made; those who lost their lives, lost their sense of self, lost mobility and peace of mind.
“Lest We Forget” reminds us, but still on days that aren’t marked with poppies and ceremony and silence, we may take for granted our right to debate our political sensibilities, our choice to vote, our freedom to raise questions of those we allow to lead our country and we may forget our responsibility in ensuring “Never Again.”
November 11th is a somber day, one of demonstrating with silence and reverence. But it also is a day of hope when we collectively turn our attention to being reminded about the perils of conflict.
Despite the tremendous hardship and loss those men and women suffered, their ideals prevailed. Maybe it is that hope, that very sense of standing up for right against immeasurable odds, is how we should face every conflict—be it within our borders or across the globe.
And maybe it is that very respect and hope and honour that we feel on November 11th that we might turn on doing the right thing for our planet; to leave a legacy of respect for our children and our grandchildren.
We are told the Great Barrier Reef will not survive climate change, will not survive raised temperatures of the oceans’ water. That is a fact, not a maybe.
“The Weather Makers,” written by Tim Flannery of Australia in 2005, details the predictions of the consequences of climate change and goes on to discuss proposed solutions for this war to save the environment.
Maybe those gathering in Paris for the UN summit on climate change will have read Tim’s book, and will see Canada rejoin the rest of the world as we come together to remember and focus on our responsibility to get it right.
I often feel far removed from a solution; from playing an actual part in turning the tide. Though I listen intently to what is happening, it is easy to get side-tracked when I live in a country rich with water; a country whose marking of the loss the planet is experiencing is not easily visible to many of us, yet we are very much playing a part in the planet’s decline.
I forget that I have a responsibility in that regard. I forget that we all play a part; we all have a choice in how we leave the planet for the next generation.
Aside from being frightened, surely there is more that I can do than I am doing.
I try to use my car only when necessary yet I live in a rural community. I could walk, cycle, use public transit as my first choice.
I reduce my home heating costs by recycling existing carbon (i.e., burning wood for heat). I eat local whenever possible or tell myself I do (there is room for improvement there).
I do take care of my trash but only because my community is a national leader in managing waste in a big way.
I have changed all my light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. I shower at the speed of light. I turn off the tap while brushing my teeth.
But while I am boasting of that fact, I must remind myself that I fill the sink several times to wash the same set of dishes because I wander off and forget what I was doing (more room for improvement).
I hang my clothes on the clothesline, but some days I’m lazy and throw them in the dryer. Room for improvement.
My number-one way to help the environment is to stop waiting for others to do it for me; to stop patting myself on the back for the small ways in which I contribute, to encourage the conversation, and to hold myself as equally responsible for the environment as those for whom I vote.
Definitely room for improvement.
My grandfather’s generation may not have gone to war to save the environment, but they did go to war to preserve our freedom—and that freedom comes with the responsibility to take care of those who cannot care for themselves.
The environment is at our mercy. Lest We Forget.
wendistewart@live.ca

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