One of the benefits about being old like me is that you won’t have to deal with the effects of climate-altering activities of my generation and my children and grandchildren.
Recently U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which he said revealed “a litany of broken climate promises” by governments and corporations, accusing them of stoking global warming by clinging to harmful fossil fuels.
The report, Guterres warned, said temperatures on Earth will shoot past a key danger point unless greenhouse gas emissions fall faster than countries have committed.
Governments agreed in the 2015 Paris accord to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) this century, ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). Yet temperatures have already increased by over 1.1C (2F) since pre-industrial times, bringing measurable disasters such flash floods, extreme heat, more intense hurricanes and longer-burning wildfires, putting human lives in danger and costing governments hundreds of billions of dollars.
People my age won’t see the worst of these results, although already things like successive forest fires and floods in parts British Columbia are hinting that worse is to come. Yet certainly my generation has played its part in the worsening situation.
Many of my relatives have recently returned from extended vacations in the southern U.S. states, with the resulting assault on the environment from air or ground travel. Airports are busy again, after seeing reduced air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once people arrive back in Canada, airports will be crowded with people heading to Europe or elsewhere for adventures. Meanwhile, cruise ships are sailing again, filled with thousands of people of my generation, burning more fossil fuels to keep people entertained.
On our many screens, more television stations are sponsored by companies selling more products than ever, whether we need them or not.
Recently my wife and I watched a feature-length documentary by 95-year-old British film-maker David Attenborough on how we’ve changed and challenged nature. But rather than focus on such faults as excess travel (he did, after all, travel all over the world making his films), he chose to emphasize the need for rural people to change, particularly in feeding the world. He featured, for instance, an urban operation growing salad greens hydroponically in a high-rise building. And of course animal agriculture, eating meat or dairy, was all wrong.
Let’s face it, growing food in the ground on a rural farm just isn’t new or sexy for urban story tellers, because they don’t get excited by something that’s been happening for thousands of years.
That’s why it’s essential that we have people who live among the food-growers, to write and produce video about it. Unfortunately, during my lifetime, many of our rural newspapers and radio and television stations have been bought by urban corporations and we don’t even get our own stories told in our own media, let alone told to urbanites.
There are people trying to fight this trend – rural people who use modern tools like the internet to reach urban consumers with the realities of modern food production. Their work is important and should be supported whenever possible.
It’s an uphill fight but it’s not only important but necessary. Food production is still one of the most essential of human activities – far ahead of working for an airline or a cruise ship. Urbanites, particularly people in a position to make decisions, must understand the truth about producing food.◊