Year end Green Bean review

Well, this is going to be one bucket of sunshine, so strap yourself in and hear all the good we’ve been doing for the planet during the last year of the decade.

Having had my head buried in schoolwork for the past year, I have to admit that the topics I have chosen to write about since becoming a regular contributor on Forget the Box may not be the hot, burning environmental issues covered by regular media.   Maybe some of the problem is that the media doesn’t cover the hot, burning environmental issues that we should be hearing about.   The good thing is that many subjects regarding positive environmental action, no matter how big or small, is that it rarely has anything to do with “au courant” topics.

Elizabeth Penashue
Elizabeth Penashue and her husband Francis

I try to write about environmental, or socially-related environmental topics that I find important.   One of the most significant experiences I had over the year was canoeing with Elizabeth Penashue, an Innu elder who is fighting tooth and nail to protect her land.   People like Elizabeth help me sleep better at night, knowing that there are souls working constantly to protect our environment.

Other great news is the sustainable paper policies adopted by Kimberly Clark, one of the world’s largest hygienic paper production companies.   It was a huge victory for Greenpeace, who had been campaigning against this company for years to get them to wipe away the destruction of ancient forests.

This year was not without its slaps-in-the-face…I’m speaking about COP 15, of course, and along the same line, the tar sands of Alberta remains a huge stain on Canada’s soil and eco-conscience.   These incur severe violations against the rights of all living things to live a healthy, peaceful life.

COP-15 talks
A slap in the face: Copenhagen failure in progress

It is hard to keep a sunny disposition when considering the environment.   Without getting too in the dumps about the state of the world and the snails-pace at which things improve, it’s important to take a look back for some perspective.

Not only are we entering a new year, but we are at the close of a decade.   This deserves a longer look back to see how things have changed for the good.

Weather patterns have become more extreme, a telltale sign of a changing climate.   It’s cliche, but going “green” had become mainstream during the last ten years.   Celebrities were hosting shows and documentaries about environmental issues, boycotting fur, eating vegetarian.

For a good look back on how this all suddenly became cool, please read this article from Grist.   For a look at the decade in photos and stories, the Guardian is a good pit-stop on your way to the end of this article.

The US is no longer run by Bush, which is a milestone for everyone, every tree, every insect on the planet.   Even though the American “left” is equivalent to the Canadian “right”, it’s a step in the right direction.

Ten years ago, the Antarctic ice sheet was still intact and Kyoto was a prequel to the underwhelming results of the recent climate talks in Denmark.   Al Gore presented his important documentary and book and millions of activists around the world have come together to say that enough is enough.

A movement began for local, sustainable agriculture.   A beautiful account of being a locavore was published by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Well, there is alot more, but short on writing a book, we’d like to hear what you thought were the biggest environmental milestones and disappointments of 2009, or the decade itself.

My new years/decade wish is that there are mostly good things to write about, that progress is being made to save polar bears, at ending whaling in the North Atlantic Sea, that Elizabeth Penashue wins her fight, that we can sit back and enjoy a world where environmental racism isn’t the norm.

If this all happens, then I can take up quilting and baking as a full-time occupation.

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