LOOKING BACK: Activists, Anarchists, Environmentalists and Whales

Back in 2008 I ran a community non-profit with a mandate to promote a sustainable environment and community. But every time I am called an “environmentalist” I cringe. In 2008 a local newspaper was reporting on a bunch of protestors at an “Atlantica” gathering. As I recall they were referred to as “activists, anarchists, and environmentalists”. Boy did that ever put me in bed with a nice bunch of people, even though I wasn’t present and wouldn’t be involved in that kind of protest.

I see the environment in very simple terms. It is the foundation of our society. History shows that civilization dissolves as a country’s natural assets are diminished. If they are powerful they try to take the necessary resources from their neighbours. In the end though, they always collapse. But in the “olden days” they only lost their civilization, today we stand to lose our world or, at best, increasing numbers of our companions on this planet.

I see folks walking and sometimes running for cancer, through air that is known to carry about a tonne of toxic chemicals each and every day on the average. Ridiculous toxic spills and blatant misuse of our coastal environment goes on every day where I live. And how do we respond? Everyone just seems to “glaze over” or exclaim, “but we need the jobs!” Fact is dead men don’t need jobs. Those same chemicals and attitudes are at play in the ocean that is the last stronghold of the North Atlantic Right Whale not to mention other whales, porpoise, seals, and marine birds that depend on the rich productivity at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Yet the same pollutants that the land dwellers suck into their lungs each day is entering the near shore in air and water.

I know that forage species have disappeared. As little as 30 years ago these waters teemed with smelt, sticklebacks, mummichogs, and alewife fry. No more. It’s my belief that persistent nearshore pollution has impacted the whole system. A respected researcher told me that his sampling for Calanus in Head Harbour Passage was only producing half of the results Dr. Dave Gaskin got back in the seventies.

Personally, I am an optimist. I think we can reverse this. Although I consider myself to be a truly concerned citizen, I think that I and others like me have been demonized as the dreaded “environmentalist”; a threatening anomaly from “the other side”. Perhaps optimism is unrealistic after all. Oh Hell, I’m going to work Monday anyway! Let the games resume.

My thoughts tonight.

Art MacKay 2008, 2021

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