It is soon to be Earth Week, once again. A time to go outside and hug a tree, pet a rock, kiss an icicle, talk to the birds and commune with nature. Chances are, it will make you feel better and after the long winter’s night, breathing in some fresh air that isn’t frigid, is a real treat. The big melt is coming, and this winter’s mini ice age is ending.

Since we are in an interglacial period, every year that the big melt comes, means we have another summer before the next ice age. I have spent a lot of time learning about the earth’s past and I firmly belief in climate change.

The earth is thought to be around four-billion years old and the geological record shows the climate has been changing all that time. Sometimes slowly and sometimes rather dramatically. There is every indication, that it will continue to change, with or without us.

For our politicians to pick a decade, or even a century, out of the four-billion-year time scale and say, “This is what we believe the earth’s climate should be like forever and we are going to tax people and carbon back to the stone age, until we return to it,” seems a tad foolish.

Not to mention unrealistic and unworkable. A changing climate and a changing environment is the normal and we just have to learn to deal with it.

Columnist Walt Humphries suggests the environment could be protected a bit better with more public restrooms in the city for the homeless and even outhouses — perhaps a bit nicer than the one pictured — in popular aurora viewing areas for tourists. Wikimedia Commons photo

Personally, I think earth week, is a good thing. It might help people learn more about this planet we live on and it might encourage people to take better care of it. We are all in this together because we share one planet and what happens on one part of it will eventually affect all of it. Personally, I think we need to spend more time, thought and effort dealing with pollution, garbage and liter because they are becoming very real threats to everyone. If we poison the air the water and the soil, it matters.

It is ironic people will go to ecology meetings and events and on the way they will drive, bike and walk by litter and garbage, without stopping to pick it up. Actions sometimes do speak louder then words. Think about this, if we can’t keep one small human settlement like Yellowknife litter free and clean, how do we expect to keep the entire planet litter free and clean?

I often wonder what the tourists must think of the place. There is litter in the city, litter on the road sides, litter on the ice roads and litter just about everywhere. Some of it is caused by people littering and some is caused because the city doesn’t take litter seriously. Every time I go for a drive I see litter bins at apartments, town houses and businesses, full to overflowing.

Also, the city keeps raising dump fees so people throw appliances, vehicles and ye,s even garbage away in the bush. With all this litter and dumping of garbage going on, you would think a few people would get charged with littering but those are mighty rare events.

So, the only conclusion one can draw is that the city and the GNWT don’t consider litter, a very high priority.

The same goes for human waste. If we don’t provide washrooms for the homeless, just take a guess where they go to the bathroom. This could explain why one sees wads of toilet paper in the city alleys, along the city trails and out where people go to view the aurora. Yes, more public toilets for tourists are also needed. The city and GNWT promote tourism, but they can’t be bothered to provide washrooms, outhouses or toilet paper for them.

Humans have come a long way, since the end of the last ice age around 14,000 years ago. We have cell phones, computers and a whole bunch of satellites circling globe. Yet litter and washrooms often seem to be beyond our capabilities. Also, the population has grown from one million or so, to 7.5 billion and is increasing at the rate of 100 million humans a year.

That could certainly help to explain a lot of our problems from refugees to the homeless, from pollution to wildlife habitat disappearing and from poverty to social unrest. This is certainly something everyone should consider because it has a profound effect on the planet.

So, enjoy Earth Week next week and take a bit of time, to learn more about the geological and human history of this marvelous planet. Now go out to find a tree to hug, a rock to pet and who knows, you might come across a bit of litter that needs to be picked up.

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