Tuesday, 6 August 2019

What can a large, but routine highway project teach us about our climate crisis?

Larry Powell explores that question in this picture story - "Thinking Globally. Acting Locally."

Earlier this summer, in a letter in my community newspaper, the Crossroads, I complained about a huge multi-million dollar roadbuilding project south of Shoal Lake, in southwestern Manitoba. 

Here’s why.
A legion of dump trucks streams past my window.
Despite a standing warning from the United Nations that the construction sector needs to cut back on its huge carbon footprint “yesterday” if we are to meet our obligations under the Paris Climate Accord, a steady stream of diesel trucks rumbled through town for weeks, from dawn to dusk, right past my living and bedroom windows. (Above.)

And, scant weeks after the Parks and Wilderness Society informed us that biodiversity (the variety of plant and animal life on Earth) is declining faster than at any other time in human history, the trucks were making hundreds of round trips a day, hauling copious loads of gravel from a mine which, for years, has been transforming a beautiful and once-natural stretch of the Birdtail Valley west of here (below), into an ugly hub of commerce.  
Before the project.
During.
After.

I asked an employee of the gravel mine what the future holds. He speculated that, now stocks are depleting at the present site, expansion to the north might be in the works.
The Birdtail just upstream (north) of the mine.
Pelicans gather on a nearby pond.
Rumour has it the mine will be expanding in this direction.
(All photos by PinP.)
Yet my letter was met with a deafening silence. I wonder if a recent study by the University of BC might help explain why. It has found that high school students in Manitoba are actually being taught that the science of climate change has not been settled yet!

If that is what they are being taught, it is disturbing, unacceptable and untrue!. The science is settled! There’s an overwhelming and longstanding consensus among the world’s top climatologists. We humans are altering the nature of our atmosphere by the amount of fossil fuels we're burning. This is trapping heat close to the earth’s surface. And, if we do nothing, the only home we have could morph into a place that’s not just inhospitable, but downright deadly! 

So, would Earth have been spared from the worst ravages of manmade climate change had this project not gone ahead? 

Of course not.

But are we doomed to a worst-case scenario if every jurisdiction in the world plowed ahead with "business-as-usual," as mine is doing? 

Absolutely!
-------------
P.S. I have written this in the spirit of the message we once tried to impart to the young. "Think globally. Act locally." Has that notion proven to be a mirage? A thing of the past? Please tell me it is not! l.p.
-->

                                 -30-

No comments: