Commentary – A world worth living in

Chris Clegg

I watched a TV show last week about the forests being cut down in Borneo.
Normally, I couldn’t care less. Perhaps we should.
The show explained how the forests were being cut down at such an alarming rate there was little room left for the animals and birds. Borneo is not unique. It is happening all over the world. In the Amazon basis, trees are disappearing at an alarming rate.
The reason is human’s insatiable need for resources. In the Amazon, a very lucrative black market exits for the wood. In Borneo, forests are being replaced by plantations for palm trees. I was astounded to learn at the number of products that contain palm oil.
Wildlife habitat is being lost. I enjoy the nature shows on TV. I often wonder how humans can be so destructive. If we can’t save habitats to save such iconic and beautiful animals as the Bengal tiger, giant panda, and koala bear, can there be much hope left for humans?
The fact is, the human need for resources and places to live is staggering and growing rapidly. I fear for our planet in the next 50 years. What will be left?
It can be argued the world was never meant to have this many humans living where they are and doing what they do. Ah, but we humans are resourceful! We build houses and are able to live in places we were never designed to be. Remember Adam and Eve? Imagine them in the Arctic!
Humans are also inventing and developing drugs to deal with diseases. We are also living longer – again, contrary to nature’s way.
I can remember being a kid and hearing the world could not feed four or five billion people. Today, the world population is estimated at 7.9 billion. It took over two million years of human prehistory and history to reach one billion and only 200 years to grow to seven billion. Don’t blame it all on Viagra! Advancement in medicines and varieties of food grown mean we can feed more people. It’s not just because of Flintstones vitamins!
Today, we are growing beef in the lab. Drugs and vaccines make us live longer. Better varieties of grain yield more crops. We can purify water like we never could before. This is progress!
Yet, we are destroying the planet. Poisons everywhere. Nature’s counter-balance [disease] keeps up. It’s the perpetual race involving humans versus nature.
Given time, nature will reclaim.
We like to think we are exempt from this destruction in northern Alberta. We aren’t. I dare anyone to refresh themselves by scooping up water from a nearly lake or stream. Habitat is also being lost, just look at efforts to save woodland caribou. The fact is, local destruction has not reached the same level as in other places in the world. We can thank government legislation for most of his, not to mention environmentalists.
I certainly don’t call myself a “save the world” type of person but I respect and appreciate the efforts of those who do. I shudder to think what this planet would be like if it was a free-for-all for industry. The desire for monstrous profits by corporations far exceeds any board of directors wish for a bird or animal to survive. We humans have a term for it. Greed!
I am not suggesting we toss all our modern luxuries away and go live in caves. I am not suggesting we no longer take vaccines, or refuse to grow genetically modified food. I am suggesting, or wishing, for a little more balance.
It is often said if we can’t provide a place for animals and birds to live the human race will not be far behind. Science fiction suggests otherwise. Look at all the gloomy rocks Captain Kirk landed!
There may be a time in the future where humans evolve so much we don’t need forests, rivers, lakes, animals, and birds. We must ask ourselves, would you want to live in it?
Sadly, our descendants may not have a choice.

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