By Sue Carson
Climate Justice Niagara Chair
The evening is dark and the weather outside is not inviting. Gone are those long, sunny days that helped us through the pandemic last year. But as we are reminded in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, there are seasons for every activity under the heavens.
Farmers of old knew that soil needs to recover. Crops were planted in rotation and every fourth year the land lay fallow. Modern farming uses chemicals so crops grow but the earth is dead. “A time to heal.”
Ed McGaa in his book, Mother Earth Spirituality: Native American Paths of Healing wrote:
He [Chief Seattle] might ask, as I do, what it takes to inject a sense of urgency into this country. Do we have to tear a hole in the sky before we wake up? Well, we’ve done it. Do we have to see the life-giving rain be turned so acidic that it kills fish and trees and endangers human health? Well, we’ve done it. Do we have to watch the great seas rise, inundate our coastlines, and disrupt agricultural patterns through global warming? Well, we’re doing it. Do the clouds of Chernobyl have to spew radioactivity around the globe for us to declare enough is enough? What does it take to inject a sense of urgency? What does it take to wake up world governments to the global environmental threat? Can we not see that the miner’s canary is dying — that we must save the earth if we are to save ourselves?
These words were published in 1990 and 30 years have been lost. If we had heeded Mr. McGaa’s advice the world might healthier.
One evening praying for some inspiration for writing this article I turned on my laptop. Several environmental emails bounced in. My prayers were answered.
Change.org told of orangutangs dying in Borneo because the rain forests are being torn up and replaced by palm oil trees. This is not a time to tear down but a time to mend.
From the other side of the world Greenpeace is concerned about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This is a time to plant not to uproot.
Closer to home the Ontario Government has cancelled multiple green initiatives in the province. They are trying to take away the powers of conservation authorities and make it easier for builders to get permits. This is the same year that people have flocked to such places for respite from pandemic restrictions on travel. A time to search.
4Ocean told me that in the US 500 million plastic, non-recyclable straws are used every day. If they were laid end to end, they would reach 2 ½ times around the earth. A time to weep.
Leadnow reminded me that the Trans Mountain pipeline is being built with our public money – we are all shareholders. A time to pick up stones.
Sumofus reported that bees are being killed in Africa with Bayer’s pesticides. These are banned in Europe but are being sold in Africa. A time to mourn.
Fortunately, there was some good news from the Ontario Green Party. Dr. Dianne Saxe, former environmental commissioner, will be serving as deputy leader. A time to speak.
The National Observer reported that 7 young climate activists have been given the go ahead to pursue a lawsuit. They are fighting Ontario’s weakened climate target which is a violation of their charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. A time to embrace.
Sir David Attenborough, in his October 2020 movie: David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet, visits Chernobyl and the viewer is struck with how plants, trees, and animals have started to take up residence in a city that was declared dead.
During COVID-19 we have seen that skies are clearer with fewer planes. Rivers and seas are less polluted. Sir David believes our Earth can heal itself if only humanity would work with nature and not against it. Let our love show this month by giving Mother Earth time to mend and heal herself.