The Tyranny of the Present
"The present moment is a powerful goddess" - Goethe
The short term economic and political bias that pervades our
society restricts our perception of the relative importance of
environmental problems and limits solutions, options and actions,
to address these problems.
Long term damage caused by ecologically damaging forest and
fishery management and by the use of fossil fuels, etc., is not
considered as real or as important as maintaining business as usual
A decade of forest science and policy debate has established
that redesigning forests for elusive timber sustainability risks
continued forest health and function and therefor risks all forest
services and human use opportunity including timber harvesting.
Ecosystem-based management, where maintaining ecological health and
function is the primary goal not timber sustainability, should now be
the basis for forestry in B.C. The Clayoquot Scientific Panel reports,
ecosystem management in the U.S. Pacific North-West, and the ecosystem
based alternative plan for the Slocan Valley, all recognize the damage
done by our present liquidation - conversion forestry.
Forestry in B.C. remains 70 million cubic metre plus, old growth
eliminating, clearcutting forestry because the NDP government insists
that change must not impact industry and related economies by more
than 10%, even though forest science has established that present
cutting rates are at least three times ecologically sustainable rates.
And just as present forestry harvesting levels are a bloated
legacy of a fifty year old sustained yield approach to forests, so
current salmon fishing harvesting levels and methodologies are still
based upon a sustained yield fisheries philosophy from that same
post-war era, a fisheries philosophy that is now blamed for collapsed
fisheries all over the world.
The controversies over the Mifflin Plan and the U.S. - Canada
fish war, which are about allocation under this faulted management,
totally ignore the sustainability problems of indisciminate ocean
fishing seine and gillnet methodologies, and the ecologically
sustainable river mouth fishwheel and weir solution. Neither the
NDP fisheries strategy nor the U.S. - Canada salmon treaty negotiations
even address the fundamental problem of indiscriminate ocean fishing
methods, even though fishwheel and weir fisheries could be efficient,
profitable, easily regulated and, above all, sustainable.
Short term economic interests, and threatened political fallout,
do not allow for change to a sustainable salmon fishery, even for
debate about what a sustainable salmon fishery could be. Period.
As wierd weather impacts fisheries, agriculture and undoubtedly
forests, even as every major science association recognizes the reality
of global warming, watch this year's belated international initiative
to finally start limiting greenhouse gas emmissions falter over this
same short term bias.
Even though there is more than enough hard evidence that green-
house gas emmissions today are causing immense environmental problems,
even though global warming is proved beyond reasonable doubt, expect
no substantial reduction of fossil fuel use, not even the proposed
fossil fuel taxes or trading permits.
The reality is that even though informed opinion is clear on
changes needed to ensure sustainability in forestry and fisheries or
to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions - these changes are not possible
in our society as presently structured and governed.
Short term economic interest is too powerful - every family that
lives cheque to cheque; each overbuilt service or retail industry
business one short step from bankruptcy; each multi-national business
obsessed with the need for capital investment to survive global
competition; every stressed-out union; every cash strapped government,
retired investor, or twentysomething trying to begin a career or buy
a home; etc. etc. etc. - if the needed change to sustainability means
a negative impact on business as usual today, then needed change isn't