Nature Wise: Are we all on the same planet?

Columnist Dianne Bersea of the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club

Sometimes I wonder if we all live on the same planet.

The planet I live on is hurting. Some folks live on planets where everything is coming up roses year after year. Alas, I seem to be stuck on this one. Here things are changing rapidly in awkward and unsustainable ways.

On this planet, the pace is picking up—fast. I’d like to look away but I can’t.

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When I post a photo of my artistic landscapes to Facebook I can receive 20 to 100 or more thrilling positive responses. If I post a news item about bees dying due to neonicotinoids and other pesticides, the number of responses drops off exponentially.

Why is there more response to an artist’s interpretation of Earth’s beauty than there is to its destruction?

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We romanticize nature and a lake view, yet frequently denude the foreshore that provides habitat for the creatures we admire. We celebrate our earthly relationship by naming our streets and subdivisions after the nature they replace, yet often fail to preserve and protect our precious wildlife.

Fortunately, many folks are stepping up, stepping out and bravely investing in a more viable future. We’re on the same planet so to speak.

These energized planetarians are driving electric vehicles. They’re reducing energy use, retrofitting their homes and businesses. Commercial fleets are rolling out EVs. Practically everyone is doing recycling. Community gardens and organic farms are right in my neighbourhood. Solar installation costs drop every year. Green energy investment is outstripping investment in fossil fuel industries.

The wireless universe is alive with calls to limit single-use plastics, to stop buying our water from bottling companies that drain our critical reserves.

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And lots of people are supporting innovative energy technologies and organizations like the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation program or taking responsibility to mitigate interface wildfire dangers by following Fire Smart precautions.

Sadly, there are still days I just want to give up. The challenges seem insurmountable as arctic temperatures spiral into the 28 C range, unheard of in human history, while politicians insist we continue to invest in old ways.

When I mentioned my feelings to a friend she became really angry.

“I’m sitting here next to my sleeping daughter. I look over at her sweet, sweet face and think about you saying that we should just let the planet collapse. I picture her suffering and I already know how she feels about adults who have caused this. She knows some people are talking about giving up because they think it can’t be fixed. Really, it horrifies me but my children are worth it. Please, don’t give up.”

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I’m not giving up. But I’m also disappointed that so many people seem to live on a different planet. They feel they can adapt to hotter, wetter weather, more violent storms and higher ocean levels, more wildfires and fewer insect pollinators while continuing to use energy that aggravates the problem.

That planet wants to wait to see what will happen.

Meanwhile, on the planet I inhabit, I see a car bearing down on us at high speed. Let’s get out of the way. Let’s trust our observations, use our ingenuity, activate our creative brilliance and energize our economic savvy for positive action.

Action means embracing change. We can alter, modify, transform our behaviour, our expectations and honestly examine our limitations. We can be the change we want to see.

Thank goodness there are lots of folks on this planet. Take for example the recently published Navius Clean Energy Report. Navius shares some ‘rock your socks’ data regarding growth in the green energy sector. Enterprises whose primary business is clean energy seriously outshone almost any other sector, including fossil fuels and tourism.

We can do this. It’s not too late.

Dianne Bersea is a member of the South Okanagan Naturalists. Views expressed do not necessarily represent SONC. southokanagannature.com.

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