Hold up that little wild bouquet and plant that tree

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Here we are in the first days of spring, and in the coming days, the buds will begin to appear on the trees, giving us a sign of renewal, a sign of the resilience of life, and the wonder of nature. This will be a welcome sight with all that is swirling on around us in this pandemic. We are living through some dark times indeed, and more than ever we recognize the value of the natural world to ground us and remind us that life continues and is always evolving.

The South Nation Conservation Authority continues to do important land-based work and part of that is offering up free tree seedlings to households. They are encouraging us to regenerate local forests. It’s a small measure when we think about how large the issue of climate change is, but considering if many people in many communities are planting trees, it could add up to a very large symbol of hope. They say the best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. Most of us in biology were taught the benefits and necessity of trees.

Planting them now as individuals is our personal effort to improve ecosystems, and combat carbon emissions. It’s also a signal to the next generation that we know that we must take action, that we care, and that we are doing something.

Don’t get me wrong, because I still believe that governments must set the table and take dramatic and immediate action to reduce carbon emissions to stop our shift towards climate chaos.

The targets that Canada has now set in place will not take us as far as we really need to go with emission reductions. We are not hearing any clear signals from government that they are doing all they can to tackle climate change. Recent news from the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled the federal Liberal government’s carbon pricing regime is constitutional even though the governments in provinces such as Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan fought this issue tooth and nail in court. These provincial governments campaigned on a platform to eliminate the carbon tax. In court they argued that natural resources are in the provinces’ jurisdiction under the Constitution. The irony of this argument is that once climate chaos is done, those same natural resources may have been sacrificed to fires or flooding. At the recent Conservative Party convention, delegates voted down a motion recognizing that “climate change is real”. They outright rejected science. That’s what I mean by no clear signals.

Granted, governments are expected to tackle so many issues with this pandemic and economic crisis, and some leaders have allowed the climate change issue to be relegated to the back burner- but the last time I looked my stove has four burners.

While we wait for leaders to sort out their action plans, if they have any, we cannot be sitting here like waiting ducks wringing our hands. Let’s do what we can. Turn off that light switch, hang your clothes on your line, plant a garden, plant that tree.

Every small measure we take, together, will add up. We must do each and every thing we can within our own ability to reduce carbon, even if it feels like a futile effort. While the big slow machinery of government churns to try and address climate change, we can act on our own behalf. It’s us that our grandchildren will remember when they find the trees that we have planted.

“But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags,
That time cannot decay,
I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet.”
– Democracy, Leonard Cohen

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