Sunday, October 22, 2017

One Small Action


Spawning Sockeye*

Underwater Photography

As we get to know our new community, we have gradually begun to participate in activities and events here. Recently I attended a talk by a noted local underwater and landscape photographer, Eiko Jones. I was not familiar with Jones' work and had no idea what to expect.

As it turned out, I was completely blown away by his fabulous photos. Eiko Jones takes many of his underwater photos in local rivers and swamps on Vancouver Island, as well as in the ocean. His story of how he obtains his amazing underwater or split screen shots is almost as fascinating as the photos themselves. Essentially, he dives down and lies on the bottom of the riverbed, sometimes for more than two hours, taking hundreds of shots to get those one or two perfect images.

British Columbia (BC) and Alaska have one of the world's last great salmon habitats. Many of Eiko's photos showed the five species of returning and spawning salmon, and young salmon fry. Lately, in order to not disturb salmon in spawning beds with the bubbles from his scuba gear, he has taken to free diving.

I have lived in the watersheds of two of BC's major salmon bearing rivers most of my life, and am well aware of the importance of salmon to the ecology as well as to people, especially the First Nations peoples whose livelihoods depend on salmon. Eiko's photos of salmon who had fought their way back to their native stream to spawn and then die, along with his accounts of successful salmon stream rehabilitation, almost brought me to tears. Please click on the links to see examples of his photography.

Elder College Public Lecture

I have just discovered that there is an active Elder College program in my area. They are hosting a series of three public lectures in a nearby community centre. The topic for the speaker series is: Achieving Global Sustainability: A Decent Life For All. Unfortunately I missed the first talk, but I went to the second one in the series, which focused on global climate change and sustainable development.

I am deeply concerned about climate change. An obligation that rests heavily on my shoulders, now that I have retired, is to find ways to contribute meaningfully to society, and, in some small way, to help work toward solutions to the overwhelming and urgent problems that face humanity on a global scale. Climate change is one of many huge, interrelated problems, along with poverty, overpopulation, food insecurity, violence, gender inequity, and so on. It can seem overwhelming and hopeless. How does one even know where to start? How can one person's actions make any difference in the face of such urgent and difficult problems?

But thinking about it that way is defeatist. Trying to put pressing world issues out of mind and doing nothing does not alleviate my worrying about them because I still know the problems are there, like a monster in the closet. Having been present in Eiko Jones' talk, it was fresh in my mind how one person, through his exceptional photography, was gently educating people about ways to rejuvenate salmon streams, and why it is important.

As I listened to the sustainability speaker, I realized a couple of things. One is that almost nothing that he said about the causes and solutions to climate change and global sustainability was new information for me. Over the years, I have been reading and educating myself about these issues.

Another thing I realized is that many people from all countries of the world have been working for years to establish and implement global sustainability goals. In 2015, countries around the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global agenda identifies 17 sustainability goals, readily available on the United Nations website. Also in 2015, signatories to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change agreed to take action to limit temperature change to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius.

So, in contributing my part, I am not alone. I am joining people around the world working toward a shared vision. One plus one plus one is how we get there.

A third thing that I realized is that I have been making choices for decades now to live in ways that are more environmentally conscious. In many little ways, I already have been doing things that align with the UN's 17 sustainability goals. Of course, there are many more changes that I could make. Just as people can join in one by one to work toward a shared goal, an individual can make personal changes one by one, and it all adds up. Here is a list of easy things to do: The Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World. It is a great starting point.



One Small Act: #globalgoals

Upon coming home from the sustainability talk, I went online and read the UN's 17 sustainability goals. In doing so, I almost plunged into helplessness and hopelessness again. The problems are so big. The goals are so idealistic. 2030 is only 13 short years away!

But then, I decided that although I couldn't solve the problems of the world today, I could do one small thing today.

Goal 2 is to end hunger and increase food security, globally. This is one area in which we have made significant strides over the last 30 years. Although the world population has continued to rise, the absolute number of people in extreme poverty without access to adequate food has decreased. However, poor nutrition remains the biggest single cause of child mortality for children under five. For decades, we have known that the best way to improve the nutrition and health of babies and young children is for mothers to breastfeed. Yet Nestle corporation continues to market baby formula and powdered milk to the poorest countries of the world, making false claims that it is a more healthy choice.

So today, I joined the boycott of Nestle products. This link is to the most up-to-date list I could find for Canada. It includes links to the boycott lists for the USA, UK, and Australia. I printed the list and put it on my fridge. Then I sent it to three other people. That was my one small act for today.

*This is a free public domain photo by an unknown photographer. Follow the links to see Eiko Jones' photographs.

12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post Jude! You are absolutely right, if we just think about what we as individuals can do, it will make an impact. The very fact that you wrote this post will encourage others to make better choices every day to promote sustainability for our planet.

    Thanks for sharing the links. As a side note, there was a chocolate Nestle plant near my small home town of Phoenix NY (it is no longer there). I can still remember as a kid when the wind was just right, I could smell the chocolate bing processed at the plant. Nestle needs to take responsibility. If their corporate conscience won't do it, then we as consumers can do our best to make an impact, one small act at a time.

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    1. Thanks Carole! Sometimes the problems seem so big, but individual local actions multiplied across many people DO make a difference. I worry about the way some corporations operate without integrity, and in ways that clearly do harm to people’s health or to the global environment that we all share.

      It’s interesting that you lived near a Nestle plant when you were growing up. Nestle has been in the news negatively in BC over the last few years for taking water from a local aquifer near Vancouver and bottling it for sale. They do not pay for the water that they take.

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  2. Thank you for this very inspiring (and 'kick-in-the-pants') post. I am downloading 'The Lazy Man's Guide' right now!

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    1. Donna, I am glad you found it inspiring, and it really was a way to kick myself in the pants! It is so easy to drift away from good intentions.

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  3. Hi Jude! I so agree that we all need to do our part to help keep our planet (and our world) stay healthy long into the future. I think more of us mid-life and older bloggers need to keep putting that message out for others to remember because every little thing matters. And I too had never heard of The Lazy Man's Guide before today but I was relieved to see I already do many of their suggestions. And BOOOO for Nestle. They are definitely NOT helping the environment in that and other ways around the planet.

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    1. Kathy, you raise a really great point about speaking out. As a blogger, I find it tempting to stick with topics that are non controversial that won’t offend anyone. You know, we Canadians are known for being polite!

      But then I think about my great fortune in living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and the privilege I enjoy in being able to retire in my early sixties. I think that feeling a bit of awkwardness in broaching difficult topics is a small price to pay. So many people in the world, and even in my own country, are suffering as a result of the economic and environmental choices made by the developed world.

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  4. That’s a very useful NestlĂ© link, thanks. I have been boycotting them for years but there are some items in the list that I have bought without realising who owned them. Confession: my mum buys kitkats and sometimes I am powerless to resist when she offers me one.

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    1. Anabel, I first learned about Nestle and their role in contributing to childhood malnutrition many years ago when I gave birth to my own children. At that time (mid and late 1980’s) there was lots of support for mothers to breastfeed, and I breastfed my own babies. But in researching feeding options, I learned about Nestle’s history of selling formula to the poorest of the poor. I myself, born in the 1950’s, was a formula fed baby. My mom tells me that at that time scientific feeding was highly promoted by health personnel, and breastfeeding was discouraged as being “dirty” and “lower class.”

      I began to boycott Nestle products in the 1980’s. But over time, I drifted away from that action. Part of the problem is that it is hard to keep up to date on which companies Nestle currently owns. Another is that there is lots of misinformation out there, so it is hard to come to a conclusion about which companies or practices warrant taking action against. And finally, there are so many unethical corporate behaviours that it can seem hypocritical to boycott one corporation but not all those other ones.

      But the evidence against Nestle is extensive and longstanding. I figure that one little action is better than no action at all.

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  5. I really appreciate the link to The Lazy Person's Guide. The goal sometimes can seem unachievable, but you are so right about each of us having the ability to make small, but impactful, steps.

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    1. Janis, I love lists like that one. It suggests practical small actions. I can feel good about the things I am already doing and notice a couple of additional things to start doing. Because the list is vetted by the UN, I know that somebody has already done the research to determine that the things are the list actually are helpful things to do.

      Jude

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  6. I was completely oblivious to the Nestle issue, Jude. I appreciate you talking about it. See? There's an action you took that has already made a difference to someone - me!

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    1. Wow, Karen, that’s awesome! My problem is that there are so many issues that it can all become quite overwhelming. But I am just going to repeat to myself, one little action is better than no action at all.

      Jude

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