We must continue to try

I see an impossible task at hand

We must continue to try

I have lost my faith in humanity. Let me explain and start by saying, we abuse, we deplete, we desecrate, we destroy. Disaster looms on the horizon and we are the doomed.

Climate change, global warming, extreme weather events and droughts are a fact; habitats are being destroyed and collapsing; wild salmon and Atlantic cod stocks are threatened; polar bears, whales, monarch butterflies and more are threatened with extinction.

Sadly, I believe that the people who have the power to change things are driven by self interest and short sightedness. Sadly I believe that many, if not most, see the earth primarily as a source of profit rather than a source of life. Sadly, I look around and see us plundering the present and consuming our future.

I am saddened for my children and grandchildren.

Once I saw beauty in the world. Now I see beautiful sunsets that not so long ago were filtered by smoke pollution from devastating fires that made them look both beautiful and oh so scary. Once I saw beautiful flowers in springtime, now I see flowers that are waiting for the disappearing honey bees to pollinate them. How long before they both disappear forever? Once I saw beautiful beaches and ocean vistas and now I see those beaches and vistas being fouled by ships leaking oil.

I could close one eye and only see the sunset, the flowers and the ocean vista but that wouldn’t change the terrifying future that I see.

I see some people fighting the good fight but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle. As David Suzuki stated recently in an interview: “the reality is that the environmental movement is losing”. We are in an ecological crisis and we have misplaced our ecological compass.

I look around and see the degradation and desecration of the environment and see a task so gigantic that I feel overwhelmed and powerless.

Every day there are articles and letters in the news concerned with our dying world: more forest fires and more wildfires, fouled marine habitats, melting polar ice caps, dead fish in dead rivers, unbreathable air and undrinkable water and more.

When I look out, I feel fear and despair for my grandchildren when I glimpse the crumbling and dying planet that they will inherit and inhabit.

I see an impossible task at hand and no longer have faith in those who have the power to make the right and necessary decisions to clean up our earth, oceans and world to make it a better place in which to live.

I no longer have faith in my ability and the ability of others to make a difference and I admit, I feel like throwing my hands in the air, retreating and disengaging.

And yet, I know that that is not the answer. I know that doing so will not lead to a better night’s sleep.

In my heart I know and understand that the only way to confront and address the feelings of numbness, fear and despair I feel is to take action. Even without faith in people’s ability to make a difference; even without knowing how things will turn out, I believe that it is we who must take action to create a different future. It’s “on us” to not be indifferent.

So, if you, like me, are terrified by the future you see, get political, get active, sign that petition, write that letter. Maybe, just maybe, those actions will lead away from the abyss and be the domino that starts a chain reaction that will change our future.

At the end of the climate summit held recently and attended by world leaders, scientists stated “humans are running out of time to stave off catastrophic extremes of global warming”.

I don’t know if each of us taking personal responsibility and action will be enough to alter the dire course that scientists say this planet is on. As Yogi Berra said, “it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future”.

I don’t know, but I do believe that if people don’t make it personal and take action, we are doomed to wander in our overheating desert towards our inevitable extinction. I do believe that we must literally “die trying” no matter how small the ‘try’ may be.

So, while I have lost faith in governments, corporations and humanity to make the necessary changes in time I’m still writing letters, making donations to environmental causes and doing the best I can to repair this very broken and damaged world… so that my children, your children, our grandchildren might just inherit a habitable planet when they grow up.

A short story you may know:

Sadly a forest fire starts in a forest. Many animals die but many run out of the forest and stand on the edge watching it burn. As they watch the devastation they see a hummingbird flying back and forth picking up a drop of water from a nearby lake and dropping it on the fire. Finally the wise old owl blinks and says with a voice of resignation, “Don’t you know that you will never put that raging fire out with just one drop of water at a time?” The hummingbird turns to him and answers “yes, I know, but I’m doing the best I can”.

To state the obvious, planet Earth is burning, humans and other living beings are dying and you and I are the hummingbird. We are possibly the last or second to last generation with the opportunity to influence the course of events. As Jane Goodall said “what you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”.

Barry Corrin


Cowichan Valley Citizen