This may seem obvious but hear me out.
If you eat chicken wings every night for dinner and have four beers every night and you never exercise and have poor sleep habits, bad things are going to happen. Sure, you can get away with some of that for a while. Being young helps.
But sooner or later, the clothes stop fitting. Climbing stairs is harder. Your trim waist disappears under fat. You’re at risk for major disease – cardiovascular, type-2 diabetes, joint problems. Eventually, there’s a high probability you will die prematurely because of things that were always in your control to change.
There are wildfires burning all over Canada – especially in the north and west. The horrific scenes from Fort McMurray are the defining image of the spring weather, but there are fires in B.C., northern Ontario and across the Prairies.
And it’s just the first week of May. The trend from long-term data is bad – the US National Interagency Fire Centre says last year was the worst on record for US wildfires. And there have been fires consuming more and more acres of forest, year over year, since 2000 than in the years before that. Simply put, the problem is accelerating.
Our prime minister deflected suggestions this week trying to directly link climate change to Fort McMurray. I think he’s sort of right. Connecting any single isolated incident to a broad phenomenon like climate change is fraught.
But … he’s also wrong.
The next time you are on the QEW or 401 or whatever major highway pierces through your part of the world, count the people in the cars. See how long it takes to find 10 cars with three or more people in them. It will take a long time.
Now, reflect back on what you ate for dinner each night in the last week. Did you have any meat-free dinners?
How much milk, cheese and other dairy product does your household consume?
The fact is – as we are constantly reminded when we train at ATC – there is a cause and effect among our choices and BOTH our fitness and the world around us.
That the climate is changing is categorically beyond doubt. All that’s left to debate is why and there’s not much debating that point, either.
The climate of the planet has evolved and shifted over billions of years, but there’s only one tiny period of time – 50 or 60 years really — in the history of the planet where humans have produced greenhouse gas to the extent that it is starting to erode the viability of the planet to support life.
That’s a dramatic statement. But Mother Earth has had too many chicken wings and too many beers forced down her throat and bad things are happening.
Beef and dairy production are devastating to the environment. All those cars with one driver and no passengers spew carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, at least until we can all afford Teslas, which is my son Chris’s plan to save the world.
A winter without snow pack. Temperatures in the 30s in early May in northern Alberta and BC. Drought. Wildfire. Human suffering. These are not one-offs. These are trends and the consequences are what they are.
I’m no angel. Tonight we will celebrate Mother’s Day a day late because of travel/work/concert schedules and as generations of my family and Laura’s have done before us, we will BBQ meat. The boys are home from school and barbeque is a treat for them.
And I am unapologetically the biggest softie for the other three people in my house that exists. I’ve been excited for three days to have us all at the dinner table at the same time again and if red meat to makes it better, I’ll happily take one for the team.
But last week I had three vegetarian dinners. I never eat meat or dairy during the day now, ever. It’s small, but it matters.
The ATC regulars are used to hearing sermons on this topic. As my boss at work says, a steady rain sinks in. Richard is right. Act locally. Think globally.
Saturday morning, commenting on the western fires, Richard remarked that things don’t look good for the planet 40 or 50 years from now, and as a grandparent that worries him. (Interestingly, at that moment he turned to me and said ‘You’re going to be a grandfather too’ which generated gales of laughter from everyone else because of the ‘That’s news to me!’ look on my face. Fortunately, he didn’t mean it was imminent, just inevitable.)
He’s right. We should be worried. And we can all make small adjustments to make a big difference.