Sunday, February 26, 2006

Viking Suicide

Are we all Vikings?

Tribune (Welland)
Wed 01 Feb 2006
Page: 7
Section: PelhamNEWS
Source: Special to PelhamNEWS

In his book, Collapse, Jared Diamond told this true story: Once there was a boatload of Norwegian Vikings who moved to Greenland to make a new home. They settled and lived there for several generations. Then they starved to death because they wouldn't stop consuming cattle, sheep, and goats.

These animals were too resource-consumptive for the soils of Greenland. But the Vikings refused to change because they liked their way of living; it was civilized and comfortable; it was prosperous.

So they died.

Nowadays some people, like most Americans and Canadians, are consuming more than anyone else on earth. And the rest are anxious to catch up. At the same time we have this contradictory concern that we'll end up like those Vikings in Greenland.

For the Vikings, change seemed hard too. Eating fish was considered uncivilized. Yet it was the smart choice given the circumstances and we now know that fish is healthy and tasty.

Consider reducing energy the modern-day equivalent of switching to fish. We can think of plenty of reasons not to bother, still our survival depends on it. Besides, how hard can it be?

Replace your light bulbs with more energy efficient ones; take the bus (or walk or bike) whenever feasible; get your home, school, place of work, and/or place of worship energy audited; buy local food (and support our farmers) to save transportation-related emissions.

The real danger to our efforts to curb climate change is the majority, who, in poll after poll say that they are concerned about this issue and yet don't do much about it.

Take George, a 30-year-old banker from Toronto, who when asked what he is doing about climate change told me:

"I don't think whatever I did would make a big enough difference to this global issue; governments should force business to change their practices."

This argument is common in the media and on the streets, but it's no consolation to the many victims of climate change last year and the many more to follow.

What we forget is that the institutions we rely on are all made of individuals making choices. If we can't be bothered to make changes in our own lives, how can we expect the same of those institutions?

We must be leaders on the issues we care about. Canadians care about climate change; it's time we did something about it.

*© 2006 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.*

Edition: Final
Story Type: News
Length: 404 words

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