Like humans, the planet earth is a living organism comprised of complex biological systems requiring homeostasis for its health and well-being. When balance is not maintained, disease follows, inducing painful and often fatal symptoms. Last week, one of the worst symptoms of global disease to date was reported by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre revealing that the Arctic ice cap has shrunk to an all-time low. This symptom is akin with any illness experienced by living organisms. It is a sign that there is something wrong and a course of treatment should be followed. The old adage goes “starve a fever, feed a cold.” If the earth has a fever, should we not starve it?
The major contributors to global warming, such as the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture and deforestation, are undeniable acts of anthropogenic consumption. We burn fossil fuels to run our cars, heat our houses and power our cities. Agriculture breeds cows for our factory-fed diet and we cut down trees to build more cities to house more people driving cars and eating the factory-fed diet.
The problem with this pattern is that there are no restraints. The Canadian government has done little in terms of policy since its official withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only legally binding commitment to reducing climate change. Instead, we have invested in scientific research as part of the Northern Strategy, which is, for all intents and purposes, geared towards economic development rather than protecting our environment. While research data is essential for making sound decisions about climate change, action must also be taken.
Some climatologists are predicting we could see a seasonably ice-free arctic between 2015 and 2030, a phenomenon that we could experience in our lifetime. The polar ice caps play a vital role in regulating weather patterns, reflecting solar radiation and maintaining current sea levels. The melting Arctic ice can further exacerbate global warming and drastically impact a whole host of ecological balances.
There are many people who would like to label anyone raising concerns about climate change ‘fear mongers.’ The fiercest opponents of the global warming ‘hoax’ are those that say variation in planetary temperatures is a natural occurrence. These individuals have chosen to ignore the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community who actually study climate. The message is loud and clear: summer sea ice has decreased by 40 per cent since the ’70s and this rapid deceleration can be attributed predominantly to man-made causes.
The reality of climate change is upon us whether or not we are able to do anything about it. It would seem as if those in denial of global warming would prefer to continue their unquenchable feast at the trough instead of heeding to the writing on the wall. Some of us admit we are in danger and continue to lead our excessively gluttonous lifestyles claiming we are doomed to fail anyway. Still others are calling for a course of treatment asking us to change our ways.
The path of integrity is an obvious one, and not beyond our individual reach. What harm would it be to just stop, or at least limit, our thus far unhindered consumption? Would it be so bad to walk to the corner store rather than drive? Is it possible for us to eat meat less often? If regulations were placed on industry, who would really suffer? No one would be hurt by getting more exercise, eating healthier foods and buying less stuff. By treating the disease of our planet we might just start to heal ourselves in the process.
Though it can be frightening, a fever is a natural way for the body to fight off disease. When allowed to run its course, a fever can successfully eliminate the offending pathogen. If this global fever continues to climb, we might find it’s the human race that ends up eliminated, one way or another.