My love of the wild was born of Canadian summer camps in Algonquin and Temagami north of Toronto and regular field trips to a rustic school property near Norval, Ontario. My introduction to the literature of conservation was Faley Mowat’s, Never Cry Wolf. And early fiction favorites included the works of Jack London. What was it that turned me away from the cold, ice and adventure of the Arctic and towards the tropical rainforests of the Amazon? Was it a summer house we had on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when all my schoolmates had cottages on Georgian Bay? Was it stories of African Explorers my father told me as a boy after time spent in Nigeria, West Africa? Or was it the whales, the great migratory whales?
When it was I first became fascinated with the mighty behemoths of the deep I don’t know. But everything about them captured my imagination and led my eyes and mind southwards as if following 19th century whaling ships down the eastern seaboard. First it was college in the US where I studied Latin American literature, then sports teams that took me through the Caribbean, and finally surfing and other adventures that took me into Central and South America. It was only a question of time before I found myself in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and fell in love…with the river and forests too, though first with my wife-to-be.
Now 30 years later I am looking back, looking north and thinking about the snow and the ice again. And not because I need a new adventure, though I do. Part of me is homesick after so many years away. But also I want to do even more to save our threatened planet- after the Brazilian Amazon the Canadian Arctic is the place to be!
The tropical rainforest of the (Brazilian) Amazon and polar icecap of the (Canadian) Arctic are considered to be the most important and endangered ecosystems on our planet. Without the trees and without the ice our planet will be unable to maintain its delicate equilibrium and “regulate” itself. Drought, flooding and other “natural” disasters caused by global warming will destroy our planet entirely. Mankind, in lustful and wasteful pursuit of material wealth, is the cause of this eminent and seemingly irreversible ecological disaster. And, for better or worse, it is Mankind alone who can turn things around and save the planet.
The good…important & beautiful ecosystems that must be saved
Ancient forests, mountain ranges, glaciers, lakes and fresh water sources, Indigenous peoples (conservation & survival techniques, medicinal plants & ancient wisdom), biodiversity (unique flora & fauna, pharmaceuticals, languages & customs etc)
The bad…causes of destruction and threats against the world’s last frontiers
Global warming caused by increased CO2 emissions, deforestation, flooding, drought, cattle ranches, land speculation, soya and other monoculture farming, over-population, uncontrolled urban development, mining and oil exploration, inefficient land management, water pollution, inequality between rich & poor
And the nitty-gritty…solutions that you can be part of
Education, population control, empowerment of women, human rights, urban planning, land reform, conservation, recycling, alternative energy sources (solar, wind, water, organic), alternative transportation (bike, bus, train), ecotourism, alternate eating habits (eat less meat, support NGOs like Greenpeace, WWF, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, better & more efficient farming techniques
And if the potential disaster global warming is already causing wasn’t enough there seems to be no lack of opportunity to be had out of a bad thing. Amongst other things in the arctic global warming is opening up year-round shipping lanes, and revealing previously inaccessible mineral and oil deposits. Rather than face up to the need for urgent action now against global warming before it really gets out of control there are many who see it as a potentially good thing. Perversely global warming appears more like a virus as time passes and it feeds upon itself or spontaneously inbreeds itself exponentially. Rather than fight the problem many are planning to benefit from it in the short run begetting more global warming in the long run as a result.