Future generations need us to take action now.




Reflections from an older resident.



Congratulations to the Comox Valley Collective on reaching its 10th anniversary, and for publishing and highlighting issues of importance to the residents of the Comox Valley.

The magazine was born at 399.2 ppm (2014). I was born at 312.2 ppm and we are now at 420 ppm. These numbers refer to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which has risen dramatically in my lifetime. Many of my fellow residents of this planet are blissfully arranging their lives without a concern for the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) we are putting in the atmosphere and how this is radically changing our climate.

I started my career as a veterinarian here on Vancouver Island. But I spent over 20 years working as an environmental epidemiologist in the Canadian and circumpolar Arctic, addressing human environmental contaminant issues related to lead, mercury, PCBs, DDT, etc.

It gradually became obvious to me that climate change was a critical environmental issue, with the Arctic experiencing the most rapid increases in temperatures on the planet, leading to loss of permafrost and sea ice. These environmental changes are leading to major decreases in caribou, musk oxen, and polar bears—important traditional foods of Arctic peoples.

In the past two years, British Columbia has experienced some terrible climate extremes, including the heat dome and atmospheric rivers of 2021 and the widespread forest fires, air quality alerts, evacuation orders, and shattered heat records this past year. These climate disasters are happening worldwide, not just here in BC. They are also arriving far earlier than climate scientists predicted.

We are now in a climate emergency! I believe those of us born in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s made this mess and must take leadership and show the way. This is why I spend a good deal of time working on environmental issues. I’ve been involved with the Green Party for 40 years. The election of more Green Party candidates will force the other parties to truly address this climate crisis.

The loss of old-growth forests—which are more resilient to forest fires—and the planting of monocultures have made BC’s forests much more susceptible to fire. I’m part of Save Our Forests Team – Comox Valley (SOFT-CV), a group that highlights the importance of preserving old-growth forests and developing sustainable second-growth forestry here in our valley and elsewhere.

Direct action is also a part of my life. In the 1990s, I was arrested on a logging road in Temagami (northern Ontario) while standing up to block old-growth logging. More recently, my wife Diane and I, along with numerous other residents of the Comox Valley, were among the 1181 people arrested at Fairy Creek.

In my life, I have been fortunate to hike, ski, mountain climb, kayak, and sail on and around Vancouver Island. Will it continue to be a place where our children and grandchildren can live, work, and play?

Many people and nations are already moving ahead with decarbonizing and reducing energy use and waste. I encourage every reader to take as much action as you can. Try out some of the carbon emission calculators on the internet to see your numbers, then consider how you can change your lifestyle. If you’re going to fly or drive, buy carbon credits. Let us share our resources with those most impacted by the climate crisis. It’s essential.