Can We Move Beyond Our Daily Challenges to Care About Extinction of Coral Reef?

I just read that a new book written by a top UN scientist is predicting the extinction of coral reefs by the end of this century, the first entire ecosystem to be destroyed by anthropogenic, or human-caused activity.

So while “the environment” waxes and wanes on pollsters’ lists of things we do and don’t care about, nature herself, Earth’s living systems, continue to be destroyed at an alarming rate. Climate change is not easy to solve, and don’t believe that only individual action is enough for us to deal with the bigger redesign we need of our systems away from fossil fuels.

This is why I am involved in politics. Because it is time people started to coordinate and organize a response on a society-wide scale to the amount of carbon we are emitting into our atmosphere, which means a civilizational-scale retooling. Not just in Manitoba, of course, but globally.  

Still, the fact we in our communities cannot totally solve these massive problems is no reason for us to give up, become jaded, or point fingers at other jurisdictions like China, as Stephen Harper and Conservatives did during the Copenhagen COP-15 negotiations on climate change; no, we should not underestimate the positive role we as a city or province can have in modelling a post-carbon future. Good ideas and innovations spread quickly these days thanks to the internet and a global lack of leadership on these issues. People want to point to good examples but instead leaders point to bad examples and say “tell that one over there to clean up its mess before we do anything.”

So when I hear of coral reefs becoming extinct, I don’t think I want my grandchildren to grow up in such a world. I want them to inherit the rich planet we have lived on so many tens of thousands of years, only to destroy the lifesystem in so short of time, from the dawn of the industrial age on one scale, but more intensely in the last 60 post-war years of trade globalization and bottomless ideas of consumption.

The ice is melting rapidly, folks.
We hear this from leading scientists and from Inuit friends in Nunavut but we plug up our ears, accustomed to such convenience as the automobile, even if we do end up stuck in traffic for an hour a day.

What if Manitoba stopped selling off all its electricity and started to use it to create a leading-edge electrified grid in the city, both for electric cars and for mass transit? Would the world not take notice? Would our rides not be so much more smooth? No parking fees on transit, no stress, and with wireless capabilities you can put in an hour of your workday just while commuting.

To quote the title of a popular documentary of the last few years, “Who killed the electric car?”

Apathy, my friends, and a lack of imagination and leadership at the highest levels of government. Please, let’s shake off the dust and arise. Before the coral is gone and so much more. Before we forget what it really means to be humans, beings of the humus, Earth-beings.

Consider a Green vote. Because someone has to question the endless drowning that is growth economics. If you really are worried about putting food in the table, let’s talk about building up local food systems, not continuing the hamster wheel of cheap production and mindless consumption, with depletion of resources on the front end and waste and pollution on the other.

After all, this beautiful Earth is round. And what goes around comes around, so let’s close these industrial loops locally before we wake up one day and find the world has drastically changed. Degree by degree of warming, a frog can be boiled ( : <) But with sudden awareness of how hot it’s becoming, a frog jumps out of the hot water. We too need that kind of insight, before we start to suffer what the late Canadian thinker and urban activist Jane Jacobs calls a “cultural amnesia.”

Do it for the coral. Do it for your grandchildren. Wake up today! Let’s get some Greens involved in all levels of government. You won’t lose your job so much as gain a new handle on what is possible when communities are strong and economies localized and shifting towards being cooperative. It’s the rule of the planet. Adapt or die. Sorry to lay down the heavy ecological word. It’s just I read so much about systems collapsing, see many documentaries about what is being lost, and think maybe we should be reading and watching this stuff together.


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