One hundred years ago and now…


Photo by Cheryl Girard

Be heard before it’s too late

By: Cheryl Girard Published Jan. 27/2017

“However sophisticated and technologically advanced we may be, we are biological creatures, utterly dependent on her (nature’s) beneficence for clean air, water and food,” wrote David Suzuki in Letters to My Grandchildren.

I often look back about a hundred years ago and write about what life may have been like back then. One thing always struck me. There seemed to be a lot less pollution then there is now. There were not many cars on the road then. Horses were still mainly used for transportation in this city, especially.

There were fewer chemicals too, less chemicals in our food, in our water, homes and cities and people seemed to spend more time outdoors, in nature, unplugged.

When I was growing up in a small town in the ’60s, I heard the story of a man who one day ended his life by sitting in his car and running it in an enclosed garage. It horrified and saddened me and haunts me to this day. It disturbs me for other reasons also. The thousands of cars that ply the roadways of our city put out those same toxic fumes into the air we breathe every day.

Millions of people around the world do this without ever thinking of the consequences.

Electric cars once ran on the streets of Winnipeg a century ago and would solve a lot of our pollution problems today. But making them available to the average consumer seems not to have been a priority.

A hundred years ago typhoid and other infectious diseases were major health threats in the North End of our city and elsewhere. Today, cancer is on the rise, along with other non communicable diseases.

According to the World Health Organization such diseases “were responsible for 68% of all deaths globally in 2012”. “The four main NCD’s are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.”

Today it is more common for young children to be diagnosed with cancer. There seem to be more rare autoimmune diseases and other diseases.

Is there a connection? Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, which is said to have launched the environmental movement, thought so.

She wrote, “The 20th century was to create countless new cancer-causing chemicals and to bring the general population into intimate contact with them.” Even unborn children.

Suzuki writes that today we are faced with climate change, toxic pollution, overpopulation, deforestation, ocean degradation and species extinction.

Yes, we need to make our voices heard and do what we can. For our children’s sake. Before it is too late.

Published in Winnipeg’s ‘The Times’ Jan. 27/2017

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