September 30, 2014

For Nova Scotians, Less is More: Ecology Report from Halifax.

Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

David Suzuki spoke Friday, September 26, at Pt. Pleasant Park’s Black Rock Beach to a gathering of at least 100, following a Mic Mac ceremony of drumming, singing and inviting all assembled to make a tobacco-water aspiration and offering to the Halifax Harbour.

These First Nations were celebrating the fact that the Halifax Harbour was finally clean and safe enough to swim in.

David Suzuki spoke clearly without a mic, saying that our most basic need as human beings, like for all animals, is for clean air to breathe—without which we die. Our second most basic need is for clean water to drink—without which we get sick. And finally, our third most basic need is to have unpolluted earth in which to grow our food—without which we eventually starve.

Then, with a few brave followers, he stripped down to shorts and went swimming in the cold Atlantic water as the sun was setting!

This was the kick-off to his Blue Dot tour across Canada from the Atlantic Coast to British Columbia’s Pacific shores, and is already inspiring other Nova Scotia cities to do things like upgrade their sewage treatment so to prevent waste overflow.

The Climate March for Justice the preceding Sunday in Halifax drew at least 300 marchers.

Throughout Nova Scotia, citizens have been planting urban gardens and forests and several have created roof gardens to absorb rainwater. We are learning to tend to nature rather than simply dominate it.

Nova Scotia has more farmers’ markets per capita and more community started agricultural gardens than any other province in Canada. Slowly, schools are buying organic food, which supports local farms, and the hope is that soon hospitals and schools will do so as well. Yet, 13 percent of Nova Scotians still live in food insecurity and are dependent upon food banks.

The local Ecology Action Centre has a green building from which it is actively promoting sustainability at local, regional, national and international levels. There are seven teams in which volunteers can get involved and get real-life environmental experience: food, coastal and water, energy, wilderness, transportation, marine and built environment.

It is clear to Nova Scotians that P.M. Stephen Harper’s dogged pursuit of economic growth at any cost has failed. We want to end his $1.3 billion annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industries of Canada and apply it to renewable wind, solar, tidal and ocean energy and resources. We also want a Green Job Fund to support just employment transition into this new, greener economy.

Nova Scotians know the reality and necessity of scarcity. We live it every day, partly in stubborn resistance to pressure to live “bigger,” and partly because we simply don’t have the territory, the economic capital or the scale of unexploited reserves of resources that would let us grow and expand mindlessly—like Alberta and its infamous tar sands.

Nova Scotians actually take pride in the simple lifestyle we’ve developed. We’ve mastered the art that allows us to make ends meet by cobbling together small jobs in harmony with the seasons and the ups and downs of the local economy. We are resourceful, visionary and intelligent. We have said “No” to fracking. We are a model of co-operative business—a model that is being proposed as a promising alternative to the kind of economic growth that creates so much waste and so little prosperity for the majority of citizens.

Efforts to fit into the global economy have taught us that boom-time promises of plenty usually leave us worse off than before we started.

For Nova Scotians, less is indeed more.

Before the Halifax Climate March last Sunday we sang the ancient Buddhist prayer of loving kindness known as the Metta Prayer, which seems to be the view of most Nova Scotians:

“May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.”


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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

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