Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can We, In Good Conscience, Allow This To Continue?

There are, without doubt, many justifications and rationalizations that people have for being willfully ignorant of the larger world around them: work pressures, home stresses, lack of time, lack of sleep, etc., etc. I will readily admit that one of the luxuries of retirement is the gift of time and the concomitant freedom to pursue issues and interests as fully as I care to. Yet even in my teaching days, which made relentless demands on my time, I always carved out a bloc during which I read the paper and followed the news. For me, ignorance has never been an option.

It is probably the main reason that I am intolerant of those who bury their heads in the metaphorical sands which, not to be too clever, in the topic of this post. As reported by the CBC, Canada has very quietly, some would say secretly, withdrawn from a United Nations convention that fights droughts in Africa and elsewhere. Known as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in those Countries Experiencing Severe Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, its goal, as explained in Wikipedia, is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.

All members of the United Nations are currently a part of the convention, and Canada, increasingly the renegade outlier in so many international pacts, is the first and only member to withdraw from it. The stated reason? This terse response from the government is supposed to explain it:

International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino said in an emailed statement that "membership in this convention was costly for Canadians and showed few results, if any for the environment."

For those interested, the oppressive costs that have been such a 'burden' to Canadian taxpayers amount to a $283,000 grant to support the convention from 2010 to 2012.

Part of the reason it is so important to keep apprised of developments in the larger world is the fact that knowledge facilitates the detection of patterns. This latest affront to environmental concerns by the Harper regime is not, of course, an isolated one, but part of a much larger pattern that includes withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord, the muzzling of scientists, and the dismantling of environmental oversight through Omnibus Bill C-38.

I suppose that the question each of us ultimately has to ask and answer is this one: Do we live only for ourselves, or do we have greater obligations, not just to our children and grandchildren, but also to the much larger world around us?


  1. It has now been revealed, Lorne, by Maude Barlow and others, that Canada withdrew because the U.N. Convention will be meeting next month to formulate a drought protocol that may finger major emitters and carbon fuel producers for compensation. Harper didn't withdraw, he bolted.

  2. Reminds me of Harper's famous refrains about refusing to cut and run. Oh, sorry, that had to do with his penchant for sending off our young people to Afghanistan to die.