Sometimes even an old dog like me can learn new tricks. Of late, with the cascade of information about climate change pouring into the information torrents, I have tended to focus on the bad things that could happen and will to a huge degree change the ways we do things forever. But perhaps there is also a good side to all this change.
Imagine for a moment if you will, that humanity does rise to its finest hour and does solve the the climate change issue. To do that we have to gain control of three things, our population, our need to consume and our economy. By that I mean we have to find a non catastrophic way to a population of perhaps a billion souls, smaller than the population of either India or China today. We have to stop the rampant destruction that is caused by the West’s runaway consumption. And hand in hand with that, we have to reinvent our economy so that it can sustain and provide for all those living on the face of the Earth. Not just the powerful and the wealthy, but for everyone and everything.
Idealistic? Perhaps. But think of what life might be like for a baby in Sao Paulo if Brazil could reduce its population to 50 million instead of rushing headlong into 250 million. That would mean an end to the rape of the Amazon rain forest traded for “lebens raum.” Or what about a child of Los Angeles, if the United States could arrest its consumption to its own footprint and give back the 50 per cent of the world’s resources it steals, to not only the other citizens of the world, but to all the animals and plants in need of non industrialized and undeveloped spaces to live. And to the child in Nova Scotia who could look to a future within a nature similar to what it was like 200 years ago, rather than having to leave to find work.
For the past 30 years I have been aware at a core level that humans have been altering their environment. I have felt that my generation has rushed headlong into the consumptive nirvana for which they were willing to sacrifice everything for it. But perhaps there is hope.
During a talk at Focus Acadia at Acadia University a few weeks back, where I was one of the guest speakers, I had the occasion to meet a few students who have actually made me wonder whether my pessimism is warranted. They are heading up a drive to use only food that is grown within a radius of 100 kilometres and have begun a garden, greenhouse and other initiatives to bring food from their own hands into the kitchens at Acadia University, rather than food from New Zealand, China or Chile. They call it slow food.
Now I don’t think that this is going to do more than make a small dent in the vast global climate change problem, but on the other hand, what if. What if, what they are doing catches on? What if, we become self sufficient and don’t fly food from all over the world, or truck, or ship it as a business, but rather grow it so we can eat it. Isn’t that how it all began, with cultivators and farmers and growers producing for their own and others around them. Slow food indeed. I like it. I wonder if MacDonald’s is interested?
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