a cool wet summer of discontent

The smell of smoke has been all but absent from the Whitehorse Valley this summer. Largely but not completely, though — some of my neighbours…

The smell of smoke has been all but absent from the Whitehorse Valley this summer.

Largely but not completely, though — some of my neighbours have fired up their woodstoves.

I suppose this is to lessen the effect on their bones of the damp chill that has characterized so much of our summer.

While the damp and cool certainly has limited the threat of fire in the some 400,000 hectares of spruce-bark beetle ravaged forests around Haines Junction, it certainly has slowed down people’s gardens.

A walk through the DUGS community garden at Seventh and Ray shows lush growth but those tiny carrots and lettuce look like they have a long way to go before they reach anybody’s salad bowl.

Word of the closing of the chinook salmon fishery on the Yukon River offers another sign that things are just not quite right this summer.

Concerns about the impact on the Yukon River shed of increased mining activity add to that large question mark that seems to be following us around wherever we go now days.

What is happening? What do we have to do to set things right?

Certainly the environment, though a key concern, isn’t the only issue.

The escalating US debt crisis and its potential impact here, have more than a few brows furrowed.

The seemingly uncontrolled fuel cost increases touch everybody one way or another.

Continued violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Sudan and a half dozen other spots offer little hope of abating any time soon.

How can they? Especially when global governments collectively spend a trillion dollars on arms every year on the wildly mistaken premise that more guns and bombs somehow equals more security.

Do we need to continue the litany of shared woes?

Looking around us in this land of plenty it would seem that we have the resources needed to tackle most of the problems before us.

An editorial in The Telegram from St. John’s that I ran across earlier this month entitled: “Too many children still live in poverty” underlined this point.

“A Statistics Canada report noted that $3.3 billion in earned incomes or transfers,” Lana Payne wrote, “would have brought families with children above the agency’s low-income cutoffs. That’s just one-fifth of the Harper government $15-billion corporate tax cut in October 2007 — which mostly benefited rich corporations, like those in the oil and gas sector.”

Locally and globally our leaders just don’t seem to be up to the task this era in human history demands of them.

The G-8 meeting in Japan a couple of weeks ago just recycled old promises.

Where bold action is required on world poverty, climate change, the crisis caused by soaring prices of staple foods like rice or a host of other issues we got rhetoric and photo opportunities.

Greystone Books’ Notes from Canada’s Young Activists, a compilation of short articles by youth leaders here edited by Severn Cullis-Suzuki and friends has made it to print.

The collection of 26 personal stories including that of a Yukoner “is a testament to the potential that exists in each of us to make our voices heard,” states Dr. Samantha Nutt, co-founder of War Child Canada, “and to make a difference on pressing issues.”

Their voices offer something critically important right now according to Nutt, “genuine hope.” We certainly need a healthy dose of that in this cool, wet summer of our discontent.

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