Just in time for Blog Action Day 2009 comes this piece of news: Canada's rivers are at risk due to climate change and growing demand for water.
Canada is blessed with a huge supply of fresh water but this WWF-Canada report concludes that "...even seemingly remote northern waters like the Mackenzie are at risk. As temperatures rise, and industrial water withdrawals and interest in hydropower increase, we must start planning now to protect river flows to ensure water security for the communities and economies that depend on them." We are sowing what we have reaped, of course. Years of criminal inaction by our government has resulted in Canada being dead last in the world at meeting its paltry Kyoto commitments.
From the seat of my kayak I can offer anecdotal evidence that the climate is changing. Spring and Autumn used to be full-fledged seasons, now they are short three-week transition periods between Summer and Winter. Winters seem to be milder, although some may argue that as they recall last December's month-long barrage of below zero temperatures and snow. But that was the first significant snowfall in the region in 12 years. In the 1970s and early 1980s, I remember that we would get at least one or two good snowfalls every winter; now, we don't get snow at all. Summers are warmer and dryer, and I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Readers of this blog will know that my old van finally died a few weeks ago. I'm struggling with the decision of what to replace it with, or to even replace it at all. I don't want to be limited to one put-in, namely The Gorge at the bottom of my street, but traveling the island with our big kayaks requires a vehicle of some heft. Not an SUV necessarily, but something more than the fuel efficient environmentally friendly car that I should be aspiring to. I find myself feeling tremendously guilty when I look at cross-overs or mini-vans. I want to Do The Right Thing, but I don't want to sacrifice My Lifestyle to do it. I've already decided to never fly again, the carbon footprint from a jet plane is just too huge, yet I can't help but feel jealous when co-workers tell me stories of the week they've just spent in New York or of their Mexican vacation even though I know of the environmental damage wrought by their flight, and that they are either oblivious to it or just don't care.
But this is just the beginning of this kind of hard choice that we all are going to have to make if we are to survive. As Churchill said, we are entering a period of consequences.
I've been hearing about the so-called "greenhouse effect" since I was a child in the 1960s. Climate change is not a new issue, but has been dismissed as something future generations will have to deal with and solve, but the effects of climate change are with us today. The future is now. The time to act was 20 years ago.
We and our leaders have ignored it at our peril.