Our biggest threat isn’t COVID-19

0
56

Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has certainly intruded itself into our world to the point where it has become the major issue of our society. It has upset our financial, educational, social, and individual environments with a suddenness that has required immediate and drastic action. However, one of the most damaging long-term effects of the pandemic is that, in concentrating on COVID-19, society and its political leaders are ignoring some problems that may have even more damaging results.
The threat of climate change and global warming has not gone away. Melting ice caps in the Artic, Antarctic, and Greenland continue at an alarming and increasing pace.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to increase due to human consumption of fossil fuels and forest destruction. Weather patterns are becoming more extreme. Yet, here in Canada, the federal
and Alberta governments have reduced environmental monitoring standards.
Our oceans are polluted. Fish stocks are depleting 120% faster than they can be regenerated. Plastics have become one of the most dangerous contaminants of both land and water. In general, garbage disposal has become another major environmental issue. But that’s not all. Species depletion and destruction of habitat in Canada has resulted in a 52% decline in Canada’s wildlife population since 1970. Drinkable water is a major concern in many parts of the world. On the social front, homelessness, drug abuse, food bank use, elder care, education, medical services and infrastructure maintenance are just some of the major social issues that need to be addressed adequately. Delays and postponements of any of these environmental and social issues will only result in accelerated declines and more costly or, in some cases, irreversible, damage.
No doubt, the first response will be that of the economic challenge. How can we ever get the monies needed to adequately address all these issues? But in past emergencies, such as World War I and World War II, our society was able to rise to meet the challenges. This was, in a large part, due to the realization that future generations would suffer meaningless, destitute lives under a dictatorship.
Although we face many issues, we too must consider the future – our obligation to the next generations and all humanity. We will overcome the COVID-19 crisis, but environmental and social issues will remain and become more challenging if we ignore them. Research and government policy must look to the future, beyond the current pandemic to a more livable and even enjoyable future. Life on planet Earth can continue without humans, but humans cannot continue to thrive on a
planet where they have destroyed the mechanisms that make human life
possible.
The basic question is: Do we have a future? To answer “yes”, we must act on all
the major problems facing us before they become unsolvable.