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A timely example

by Patrick Raftis

A dedication was held on Oct. 8 at the Paul Day Forest at Riverside Park in Drayton.

The Wellington County Green Legacy program dedicated a memorial bench to Day in the park where the Trees for Mapleton Committee is planting 10,000 trees as a tribute to Day, who was a champion of the environment and a dedicated local volunteer.

One of the founders of Trees for Mapleton and Green Legacy and a member of the Grand River Stewardship Council, Day passed away on Sept. 27, 2016. He set a true example in the areas of environmental leadership and conservation.

It’s coincidental but somehow fitting that Monday’s dedication came just one day after the release of a sobering report by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In the report, the U.N. organization explained how the Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just a half degree Celsius from current levels, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of one degree.

Sadly, the report, reflecting current political realities, indicated little optimism that governments are prepared to take on the challenge.

Instead of reacting to the report’s urgent conclusions that drastic damage to global ecosystems will occur if carbon emissions aren’t halved by 2030 and reduced to near zero by 2050, governments that should be leading the charge are literally sounding the retreat. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Paris Accord, which though generally considered inadequate for the task, aims to reduce emissions to acceptable levels. In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford is ending green initiatives and reversing environmental progress in every way he can find, actually joining forces with Alberta United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney last weekend to “rally” against even the limited efforts currently planned by the federal government to address the problem.

With little leadership, beyond that provided by Canada’s federal Liberals, being shown by upper tiers of government in North America, it’s that much more important that we recognize those who display it at the local level.

It’s tempting, as an individual to take a “What can I do?” attitude in the face of problems of global proportion like climate change.

However, we can all look to the legacy of Paul Day and countless others in our communities who lead by example to show that not every effort to address a global problem must be global in scale.

Everyone can play a part through individual efforts like recycling, tree planting, volunteering for community cleanups, reducing our personal carbon footprint and taking the environment into consideration when we make donations, and when we vote.

If any given series of individual efforts at conservation provide only enough positive impact to counterbalance the hot air emitted by Ford and Kenney in Calgary last weekend, they will have been, at least, a step in the right direction.


October 12, 2018


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