Don’t forget things that may not be cute


The recent few articles on environment in this newspaper have challenged me to respond.

First, cute-factor: When the annual seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence became an international furor during the ninety- seventies, we, the Canadians who lived in Europe, became pariahs and were made to feel uncomfortable. I think those cute big eyes of seal pups were the cause of so much passion. (Lethbridge Herald August 22 page A9) Cats are also cute; I admit that I am willfully blind when it comes to the cats’ devastating effect on wild birds. (Mclean’s, September 12, P 65)
Because they are cute, Chinese government spends so much efforts to the preservation of pandas . Welfare of majestic elephants, lions, and whales raise more interest than damage made by carbon dioxide. Worms and microbes don’t get much attention, though they are very important for the health of our planet. Survival of spices is closely related to the health of environment. We have to admit and take into account the fact that ideology, aesthetics, personal value, and self-interest prejudice the discourse. (e.g. the guest columns, August 25 and 30)

I am not trying to make frivolity of serious issues. Rather, I am trying to widen the scope of our conversation beyond familiar and recognizable icons. Even some things we think disgusting could be very important because sustainable environment has a lot to do with balance between elements, albeit they may be cute or ugly, big or small, visible or invisible, inconvenient or profitable.

Secondly, that Alberta produces a tiny amount of CO2 is not an excuse to do nothing. Its action is not insignificant though its footprint is small. Fraser Institute’s critique of Alberta NDP government’s environment policy indicates that compare to a devastating effect on economy, its CO2 emission in a global context is negligible. It sounds like an opposite of Charlie Chaplin’s argument. Chaplin ends one movie about a serial wife killer with a quotation from a philosopher Jean Rostand, “If you kill one person, you are a murderer. But if you kill millions, you are a conqueror. If you kill them all, you are god.”

Just like there’s no such condition as “a little bit pregnant,” a small amount of wrong still is wrong. Alberta should not ignore its environmental footprint though it may be relatively small.

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