Friday, September 02, 2005


Flipping through my Webster’s New World Dictionary I found the definitions for a couple of commonly used words that are widely misunderstood.

“Environment - all the conditions, circumstances, and influences surrounding, and affecting the development of, an organism or group of organisms.”

“Environmentalist - a person working to solve environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, the exhaustion of natural resources, uncontrolled population growth, etc.”

Developers are constantly demanding more land, resources, and opportunities to make a profit for themselves at the expense of the environment that provides for all. When environmentalists attempt to protect an endangered ecosystem they are often put down by catch phrases such as: “they always want more” and “they can’t be satisfied.”

These statements are fitting for the developers. You don’t have to look far to see examples of encroachment and destruction of natural environments for private profit. Beach boardwalks for a high-rise resort, stone breakwater for Surfside RV resort, Englishman River Estuary Flats wildlife sanctuary for Tourism, a ring road in wetland forest to expand Qualicum Beach’s real-estate, pay-for-parking at publicly owned parks, forest and agricultural land turned into residential lots, Hamilton Marsh to be logged and the land sold by Brascan. The list goes on. All these lands are sensitive ecosystems some of which are owned by the public as crown land. These lands effect the surrounding environment and the people who have come to live nearby. The current economic thinking would have us believe that development is progress.

I take another perspective, which is shared by many others around the world, that the world is finite and the more of the natural world that is destroyed by development the less that exists to maintain the world’s environments. Therefore it is in the best interest of humanity to protect the resources that this planet provides rather than to destroy them for the benefit of a few dollars. Cashing in on short term gains may look good on the stock exchange but will completely bankrupt the planet in the not so distant future. Our economic models must be changed to reflect the fact that the planet is running out of resources and therefore the things that make the things that we sell will be gone. No widgets equals no future.

According to a recent study conducted by the United Nations 2/3 of the worlds natural resources (metals, minerals, oil, fish, trees, animals, plants, air, and water) have already been consumed or destroyed by humanity yet we continue to act as if the planet has a limitless supply of these resources.

A wee little park here, a wind blown wilderness corridor there, a dam to hold back some drinking water, and slaughtering a species further down the food chain does not effectively address the concerns of many environmentalists. The big picture needs to be observed in order to realize the equation that makes the world go around. Air, water, and soil qualities are essential to the humanity and all other species living on the planet Earth. These ‘resources’ are interconnected and related to the forests, oceans, mountains and must be maintained in order for us to survive. Weather patterns, quality of life, food sources, and all the necessities of life are directly affected by the destruction of the natural world.

Galileo was executed for proving the Copernican theory that the earth was round not flat as the rulers of the time believed. Yes, the Earth is finite. Yes, the planetary environment supports us all. Yes, we can change our ways, individually in our own ways.