Dy­ing whales aren’t the only prob­lem

The Compass - - Editorial -

Are Cana­di­ans to feel re­lief with the re­cent fed­eral an­nounce­ment that ma­rine ship­ping in the St. Lawrence River is to slow down in or­der to save the right whales?

Cer­tainly, it is shock­ing and con­cern­ing to see on our news­casts re­mains of these mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mals washed up on our shores. All of us should want to know the causes of and real so­lu­tions to this alarm­ing prob­lem.

Would we also not want to know so many other fac­tors, such as the ef­fect of cli­mate change or pol­lu­tion lev­els in the St. Lawrence River? Ev­ery year one study states 20 American and Cana­dian cities in the Great Lakes basin dump at least 90 bil­lion litres of raw sewage into the Great Lakes. An­other study says Cana­dian cities dumped 205 bil­lion litres of raw sewage and un­treated waste­water into the coun­try’s rivers and oceans (2015), and in one year, Que­bec and New­found­land had the largest num­ber of of­fend­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Of course, how could we for­get the fed­eral min­is­ter giv­ing Mon­treal the ap­proval to dump eight bil­lion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River - which they did, and re­search shows there are over 100 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Que­bec fol­low­ing this prac­tice. Bel­uga whales have the highest rate of can­cer of any wild animal on Earth and re­searchers are say­ing the likely cause is in­dus­trial pol­lu­tion. What about all of those other species in the St. Lawrence River af­fected by hu­man ac­tiv­ity we don’t see on our tele­vi­sion screens?

We can slow ma­rine ship­ping and car­bon tax cit­i­zens un­til the cows come home. Given the dam­age that we hu­mans brought and con­tinue to do to one of our most pre­cious resources, and to Mother Earth, and just where will this end? Un­less we get our house in or­der now, will the pre­dic­tion by the great Stephen Hawk­ing that we (the hu­man race) has about 1,000 years to find an­other hab­it­able planet be­fore we go ex­tinct, ap­pear overly gen­er­ous?

Stephen J. Ran­sier writes from Cor­ner Brook

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