Peace With Nature
The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. (Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day)
is this more apparent than around
stewardship of the natural environment is shrouded in political overtones but
it is not essentially a partisan issue; it is a human issue, a quality of life
How we treat our environment is the most pressing issue of our day. For Native Peoples it has always been such. In their teachings, when we make decisions about our world, we need to consider the seven generations that preceded us and the next seven generations after us. From past generations we receive the teachings and future generations are dependent on us to ensure the health of the planet on their behalf.
Canadians we are generally pleased with our lifestyle and with good reason,
after all we are rated 5th in the world in a 2015 world happiness
poll conducted by Gallup that measures life expectancy, social support, corruption,
generosity, and freedom to make lifechoices. This
rating does not include any indication of how we are treating the environment.
That rating rests with the New Economics Foundation “Happy Planet Index” which
measures three things: life satisfaction, life expectancy and ecological
footprint required to sustain those lives. The happiest country on earth in
this case, is
gone are the days when we in the north can point an accusatory finger to the
south and blame tropical countries for the depletion of the ozone layer and
species loss. Canadians are currently
amongst the worst per capita green house gas polluters on earth. The World
Resource Institute report of 2010 rated
How did they achieve this?It is a combination of ethics, environmentalism and effective policy making.It began in 1949 when they made an ethical decision to abolish the army. They have a deep commitment to peace. The money saved from military expensehas been redirected to the environment particularly to global warming. To this end they have developed an energy system based on renewable energy. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute reports that so far in 2015, 100% of electricity usehas been from renewable energy sources – not one watt from fossil fuels. Over 90% of their annual energy is produced by hydroelectric power the remainder from wind, solar, biomass and geothermal sources.
important step in the greening of
In 2007 they created the Pax Natura initiative. It means ‘peace with nature’ and it established an ethical base for environmentalism and formalized ecology as an important aspect of their philosophy of life. As a result they have become the only country to meet all five criterion for sustainability and are ranked #1 in the Environmental Performance Index.
benefits and virtues of a carbon tax are being debated in
Today Costa Ricans pride themselves on a “Pura Vida’ approach to life. It means ‘pure living’ and it is much more than a ubiquitous tourism slogan – it is a way of life. It is based on a belief that enjoying life is to live a good life. The goal is uncomplicated and peaceful living. Protecting nature is part of the good life. It sustains health, maintains happiness and, after all, drives the economy. This belief is ‘rather than’ our insistence on economic growth.The Costa Ricans have not bought into status climbing and conspicuous consumption characteristic of western developed countries.
these projects, initiatives, laws, taxes, and ideas are not all transferrable
to a country like
(whowants tax?). We have many distinctions
such as a diverse economy as opposed to one dependent on international eco -
tourism but there are some similarities, especially around
Development and tourism are two major pressures on our environment around the Bay and they are worth thinking about, worth planning for. Cottages, marinas,resorts and housing developments are accompanied by roads and utility supplies. These in turn lead to habitat alteration and declining water quality. Exploitation and commercialism are not sustainable because we are taking out more than we put back in to nature. It is an outdated model to view the natural landscape as a backdrop to our important human activities like recreation and business. If we shift our view to humans as part of nature rather than as separate users of nature then it becomes obvious that degradation of the environment is irrational.
are fortunate at
It may be time to look to CostaRica for advice. They reward sustainability. They plan for sustainability. They have realized that there is an opportunity to develop the economy and preserve nature. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Like the Cost Ricans we need to support policies that are derived from ethical standards based on sustainability; after all we have seven generations to consider. Surely there is some token of wisdom that we can glean from them about the environment, about life. They are living proof that we can do better in our treatment of the planet while growing our economy and improving our quality of life. We share a dream with them. They are creating a new development mode. It is a new narrative of human progress based on morality of person living at peace with the one another and with nature.