Column: Vulnerability to global disasters is our own making

Column: Vulnerability to global disasters is our own making

For many, needs of the moment take precedence over concerns about sustainability, notes columnist


Our future relationship with the pandemic is still unclear, as is the future of the global economy. What we do have is time to plan for change.

First, we have to get past the white noise of the Dunning Kruger effect: that those least equipped to understand our situation leap to misinform us, creating an informational fog that obscures what we really need to know.

We need to protect our small-scale farmers from corporate and political decision-makers who hope to return to the same policies which have made our lives so vulnerable to global disasters.

We can learn to cook all that can be grown locally, as our forebears did. And keep telling politicians to look after local producers. And go regularly to our farmers’ market and buy from them.

We can learn that, for example, all cattle get some time in fields before they go to be ‘finished’ with hormones and grain and that the Canadian flag only guarantees packed in Canada.

Most important, we can stay with our local food producers when the immediate threat is over. We are going to need those local farmers.

Dave Pollard’s article Needs of the Moment, quotes from John Gray that “The mass of mankind is ruled not by its own intermittent moral sensations, still less by self-interest, but by the needs of the moment. It seems fated to wreck the balance of life on Earth – and thereby to be the agent of its own destruction.” Pollard observes that we prioritize to “keep our jobs, manage our homes and savings, feed and clothe and educate our children, manage our relationships, protect our companies from fraud, theft and sabotage, worry about whether exploding inequality will lead to political destabilization, ‘domestic terrorism,’ or even insurrection thanks to incompetent and incendiary populist governments … who has time or energy,” he adds, “to worry about climate collapse, ecological collapse, economic collapse, earthquakes and other seemingly remote disasters?” Pollard reports that, at the Davos World Economic Forum in January, with COVID-19 already noticeable, participants rated pandemics as 30th out of a list of 30 choices.

COLUMN: COVID-19 pandemic is testing global food systems

I was disinclined to join the howls of fury from the big environmental NGOs over Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans because I largely agree that green techno-optimism for renewable energies is misguided. We cannot continue each using daily the equivalent of 22 billion (or more) human energy slaves, nor should we, because using that level of energy is rapidly destroying our planet.

What a relief to read William Rees supportingsupport the claims of the proponents of renewables. Rees, a credible commentator, says “we need an economy that fits on the planet, using a reasonable amount of energy from renewable sources and with processes that don’t destroy our ecosystems. Reducing energy use to that reasonable amount surely entails real (not just political) de-growth.”

What to do? Start by supporting those local farmers and protecting the land they need.

Marjorie Stewart is past chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO, holds information brochures for the Light the Trees campaign, part of an effort to raise $5 million for the new intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Million-dollar donation has Light the Trees campaign off to a bright start in Nanaimo

Windsor Plywood Foundation supports Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation

Regional District of Nanaimo will be receiving $1.17 million from the B.C. government in COVID-19 safe restart grant money. (News Bulletin file)
Regional District of Nanaimo directors getting started on budgeting decisions

Proposed tax requisitions for 2021 range from 7.3-per cent increase to 2.2-per cent decrease

A sport utility vehicle and a Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools work van crashed on Bowen Road near the intersection with Caspers Way this afternoon. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Drivers taken to hospital after head-on crash on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

Crash happened near Caspers Way intersection Friday afternoon

École North Oyster. (Black Press file)
With more student drop-offs during pandemic, SD68 examines safety outside North Oyster school

Fewer school bus trips and more cars accentuating traffic concerns, say school district staff

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson takes her oaths of office virtually on Thursday. (B.C. Government YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson named B.C.’s mental health and addictions minister

Malcolmson succeeds Judy Darcy, who did not seek re-election

Police in Nanaimo never know what they’ll encounter when called upon to check on the well-being of people. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP find ‘heart-breaking’ circumstances during wellness checks

Police offer sampling of outcomes from well-being checks over recent weeks

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read