Biodiversity Loss: Holding on to Nature as Best as we Can

by argea on October 7, 2016 - 10:38pm

Biodiversity loss is a worrisome topic. We are losing species at a rate 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than we would without humans on the Earth (1). We can tell we are the problem and yet we will not bother to come up with a solution. Summits and conferences are booked to elicit action, but no one wants to put in the effort required to make a difference in our world; more likely no one wants to take the blame. We are not living sustainably. If we want to save our precious Earth, then we need to start acting now.

Greg Lowan-Trudeau gave a different perspective on biodiversity loss and the repercussions of government legislature on this topic in his article “The Time has come to Restore Protection of Canadian Ecosystems”. He refers specifically to Goal 15 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which encourages the protection, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems and forests to reduce biodiversity loss.

As an indigenous person, Greg Lowan-Trudeau is hopeful that this goal will reduce the negative impacts many resource companies have caused by infringing on Aboriginal rights. But as a Canadian citizen, he worries that the Harper government has already caused outstanding devastation during their reign. By passing bills C-38 and C-45, they did away with much of the legislature protecting wild areas. The Harper government’s key motivator for reducing the protection of these lands was to ensure the potential for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which President Obama rejected. We are now left with no pipeline, and a lack of protection for Indigenous territories and conserved land.  

Our course on “Management of the Biophysical Environment” taught us that the state has their own agenda, and that the government enables their agenda. The government hoped to use their material power to gain access to lands. Passing bills C-38 and C-45 allowed the government to change legislation in their favour, making it easier to take land that was previously protected.

The Keystone XL pipeline was a prominent worry up until late 2015. The changes to bills C-38 and C-45 created increasing worry as they did away with much of the protection of conservation lands. Now in the post problem stage, the denial of the pipeline’s construction has lessened the public interest in this problem. By rejecting the proposal for the pipeline’s construction, President Obama inadvertently provided Indigenous territories and conservation lands with some more time. Now that the Harper government is no longer in power, the Liberal government has a chance to make some changes to legislature to provide these lands the protection they need.

Uncertainty in this issue caused many conflicts to arise. Value conflict arose from situations where the general populace valued their land while the government only saw it as an opportunity to generate income. The government lost the trust of a great deal of the population when they passed bills C-38 and C-45; the bills were written in such a way as to hide their real agenda from the public. Sadly, this resulted in behavioural conflict as the nation no longer trusted the government to build the pipeline in a moral and unselfish way. One thing was for certain however, and this was that the destruction of all this land would no doubt result in a loss of biodiversity.

We got lucky. The rejection of the pipeline allowed us the chance to save our land. Although it would have ensured greater income to the state, the pipeline would have had negative repercussions on much of Canada’s population and biodiversity. We have been given the time now to ensure changes are made to our legislature. Now let us make the most of it.

 

 

 

Article

Lowan-Trudeau, G. (2015, November 10). The Time has come to Restore Protection of Canadian Ecosystems. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/development-unplugged/protect-canadian-ecosystems_b_8510172.html

References

1. World Wildlife Fund. (2016). How Many Species are We Losing? Retrieved from http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity/biodiversity/

Comments

Hi argea,

I'm glad your post brought the writing of Greg-Lowan Trudeau to my attention, as it is important to hear a variety of perspectives on natural resource management issues. However, I must disagree with your statement that our class has taught us that the state has it's own agenda which it enables. Certainly there is evidence that the Harper government (i.e., the state) had an interest in the continued development of Canada's natural resource economy. The Harper government is defined as a "state" but is not the definition of "state". I don't believe the government should be cast as the opponent in environmentalist arenas because of the reputation of the Harper government.

I do agree with your statement that the Keystone XL is in its post-problem stage. I'd also like to add that the bills C-38 and C-45 appear to be in between "realizing cost" and "gradual decline of public interest" stages as the Liberal government attempts to take on the task of keeping campaign promises.

Hi Kserviss,

I agree with what you said about how the Harper government should not cast a bad light on the government's reputation. There have been past leaders that have done a lot to protect wildlife reserves and Indigenous land. As I am sure there will be future leaders who will ensure the continued protection of these lands. Unfortunately, there are also some who have focused on economic gain, forgetting about the value that this land holds for many people.

Our class explains that the state is composed of the government, sovereignty, territories and the people. The government is not itself a state, but it does help to create and maintain the state. The government should not be cast in a bad light because of the views of the leaders in government. There is an expectation from the leaders to uphold the country's agenda, ensuring the countries economic gain while also ensuring that the country protects important land as well as looksing into other important issues. Leaders will focus on different aspects when they are in power depending on their values. This is not a reflection of the overall state, though. It is a reflection of the elected government.

You make a fair point about which stage the omnibus bills are currently at. There is definitely still some worry about what needs to be done, but also an obvious decrease in public interest on the issue.

The mass extinction of various species is a topic that has always drawn in my attention. Many people go through life considering animal's lives less than our own, but I think the opposite, and it is part of what shaped me into going into International Development, as well as emphasizing in Environment and development. Your post automatically caught my attention through your unique and descriptive title. Your post successfully targets how species are declining by lack of government or state. You specifically focus on biodiversity protection through the sustainable development goals and use this to explain how the Keystone Pipeline affects both biodiversity and indigenous lands. To help me better understand the pipelines social impacts, you successfully used the 5 stages of the issue-awareness cycle and how the pipeline is now in the post-problem stage.
I completely agree with you that previous treaties have been challenged. I am curious as to where abouts this pipeline will be build and exactly what biodiversity is at risk due to the Keystone Pipeline?

Hi carlythrasher,

I'm glad my post caught your interest. Biodiversity loss is something I am hoping to help reduce and one of the many reasons why I chose to study Wildlife Biology and Conservation. It's great that there are so many others that find it as important of an issue as I do.

It was interesting looking at this problem through a geographical lens as I often will be looking at the problem from a more scientific perspective. I looked into the Keystone XL Pipeline development further and found out that due to President Obama's refusal to allow the construction of the pipeline, it looks as if it may not be built after all. The Liberal government is still hoping to continue its development, despite advocating for the protection of species-at-risk and biodiversity before their election. The worry would arise from the fact that there will soon be a new President in the United States, who may want to allow the construction of such a pipeline. We will just have to wait and see what happens after their election, and work towards getting back the protection of our lands in the meantime.