To dig or not to dig?
It is planting season. The gumboots and spades are out. Every weekend in winter there are community events where Forest and Birders and many other people are digging holes and planting native seedlings in local reserves, parks, riverbanks and sanctuaries. These projects are promoted and managed by a wide range of organisations, community groups, and local authorities.
Weeding, pest management and planting are conservation activities that provide very tangible results. They are hands on and those involved can really feel they are making a difference. They can get immediate rewards for the efforts they are making and can return over the years to appreciate the improvements in the bush and bird life. It would be great if we could just carry on doing these restoration activities and all would be right with the world.
Unfortunately the most important environmental issue we are currently facing is much less tangible and taking personal action to address it is much less rewarding. Climate disruption due to fossil fuels use is quietly creeping up on us and is already contributing to devastating extreme weather events. The impact of the carbon we continue to dump into the atmosphere will grow and affect the viability of human civilisation for many generations. This situation is inevitably going to get worse but we can still make a difference.
Climate disruption is a problem that is hard to address as individuals. However, through conservation organisations such as Forest and Bird we can have an impact. What makes Forest and Bird different from the local restoration groups is that we as an organisation can address the bigger environmental picture. We have a well established voice as advocates for nature. Politicians often know what needs to be done but need us to give them some backbone.
Bill McKibben the renowned American climate campaigner recently visited New Zealand on his “Do the Maths” tour. His key message is that 80% of the fossil fuel reserves that are currently on mining companies books need to be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Let’s face it – we are in a deep climate hole. I believe Forest and Bird as an organisation needs to campaign against all new fossil fuel drilling and mining in an attempt to mitigate global environmental destruction. Keep digging holes to plant trees, but in terms of fossil fuels – “When you are in a hole it is time to stop digging.”
Tony Dunlop recently joined Forest & Bird’s executive committee, to see his profile go here – http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/about-us/executive