Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Aflockalypse no

Last week, 'Time to evacuate Arkansas' was posted at Northern Insights for a touch of humor. This week, David Suzuki and Faisal Moola took a more serious approach, writing Mass animal die-offs and the ongoing extinction crisis in the Georgia Straight.

The scientists acknowledge that animal mass-mortality has been a fact throughout history - usually from natural causes - but note less dramatic changes, through incremental harm, are more devastating:
". . . the unravelling of entire food webs is happening all around us and every day—but in a far less obvious manner. With every patch of forest cut, wetland drained, or grassland paved, our ongoing destruction of wildlife habitat is leading to population declines, and even driving some species to extinction.

"According to the experts, more than 17,000 plants and animals are threatened with extinction because of human activity, mostly through habitat loss. This includes 12 percent of all known birds, nearly a quarter of known mammals, and a third of known amphibians. . ."
As a sexagenarian (great word!) born in Vancouver, I'm well aware that small but continuous changes transform our communities and surroundings. Adding to my direct observations, I recall stories from my long dead grandfather Jim Mahood who joined the BC Forest Service as a ranger after returning from WWI in 1918. He retired in 1950 as head of the Chilliwack Forest District. A forest territory including the Fraser Valley may not sound too significant in today's world of urban sprawl where Chilliwack is an exurb of Vancouver. However, this is how my grandfather described his territory:
"In those days the Chilliwack Ranger District started just south of Lytton, extended to New Westminster, and included all the land from the U.S. border to the headwaters of the Pitt, Stave, Harrison and other drainages flowing into the Fraser River. This vast area was virtually undeveloped and unknown as to its forest resources. Before 1920, there was almost no forestry activity east of Hope. Westward, along the C.P.R. line, near Ruby Creek, Harrison Mills, and the Mission area there were some small sawmills cutting mainly railway ties."
In less than 100 years, forestry rose from nothing to become British Columbia's fundamental industry and largest employer. Now it is in serious decline, leaving behind diminished communities and withering forests. Multinational corporations care nothing of history and almost nothing of the future. When they have stripped all of our resources, they will move on without hesitation or regret. If we care about the forests, the wetlands, the waters and diverse habitats for both people and animals, we will stand up to ensure that the legacy of our children is protected.

Because both major provincial parties are involved in leadership races, this is a time to be involved directly in the political process. The group Organizing for Change can help you make your efforts count. This is part of a message they sent this week:
"Both major provincial parties will be choosing a new leader in the next few months. This is an unprecedented opportunity to be part of selecting leaders who may be the Premiers of BC for much of the next decade. As such, they will be the key decision makers who decide what steps BC will take to protect its precious environment – or what steps BC will take to further degrade it.

"As a British Columbian who cares about our wildlife, forests, fish, clean water, oil-free coasts and climate impacts, we urge you to help make the environment a decisive leadership issue for both parties.

"Party leadership is decided on by members. Find out how you can be one of the few who will make a choice that could count for a decade. Cut off dates are fast approaching so act now!"
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