we don't need to change how we do conservation, we need to change why we do it

An Elders Appeal for Immediate Action on Climate Change

The following is my attempt at a fairly comprehensive synopsis of various exchanges with Frank Thompson, Merry Bridges, and Stephen Héder in Parry Sound Ont. (The formal petition with abridged wording is available for signing at the bottom) The petition, and this longer blog post, are meant to support both the Student Climate Campaign and my brother Terry’s ongoing protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline project:

We are seniors. Once we were the mining, logging, and drilling pioneers, recklessly destroying a Natural world we failed to understand. But lately we have been called upon, by that same Nature, to examine our legacy; and many of the choices we made in the near-sightedness of our youth were not right. We can only say that this elderly lifetime appraisal has given us a passion and a voice to speak for the unborn generations, and to support our grandchildren around the world who have begun to petition for change. We feel responsible for our grandchildren, and we must support their dreams because we have much experience with human folly, and with how it might have been different. How it might yet be different.

We’ve worked, contributed in various ways to our communities. We’ve had the privilege of just being alive, enjoying in some measure the beauty of the natural world, becoming aware—again, in some measure—of the richness of our global heritage. But now we are saddened — no, more, we know deep grief as we come to understand our losses: the massive loss of species of all kinds, with the destruction in waters and on land of the capacity for renewal.

We in the developed and consumer-oriented countries have been the primary human contributors to a climate change that leads to desertification, drought, floods, rising sea levels, and on and on — untold suffering for all life forms, including the most vulnerable human beings. It is an inconvenient but also inescapable truth now that multi-vehicle families in North American cities, with our comfortable heating and cooling of spacious homes, are causing grassland in Sub Saharan Africa to turn into desert. Here both animals and humans starve and those who can, leave, becoming economic refugees.

Make no mistake, we believed in the dreams we pursued in their time, and so we can attest to the human capacity and energy to make big things happen — whether it be putting men on the moon or eradicating smallpox and polio — but now we understand with horror that it is our offspring who must pay for the mistakes. We now have perhaps only twelve years to make the massive changes — in building, transport, and above all energy use — that can mitigate a catastrophic global warming brought about by human-kind’s global addiction to fossil fuels.

We call upon everyone, especially the leaders of government and industry in the developed world, to put aside identity and partisan politics and change direction. We ask for all those resources now being squandered on militarized nationalism to be mobilized instead into a concerted and vigorous effort to ensure a livable world for future generations — one might even say this is another ‘moon-shot’, except now the destination is a living Earth. To this end we also ask the United Nations to declare a global emergency, calling upon sovereign nations to cooperate as one in this response.





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