a surplus of hope

The National Audubon Society in the US reported earlier this year that we are witnessing a devastating decline in the continental bird population.

The National Audubon Society in the US reported earlier this year that we are witnessing a devastating decline in the continental bird population.

Some of the most popular species — the warblers and songbirds — “have seen their numbers drop an astounding 54 per cent over the past 40 years,” according to the Audubon society.

Sharply falling bird counts dramatically underline the current state of our environment.

Mono-cultural agriculture, the loss of habitat and pollution of air and water are cited among the long list of causes for this indicator of looming disaster.

The World Health Organization along with a host of other research bodies worldwide, unrelentingly call our attention to an emerging healthcare crisis of global pandemic proportions  — obesity.

We have heard for some time about the rising plague of diabetes associated with our fast food, sedentary lifestyle accelerating tendencies to put on weight.

Now in a study released earlier this week by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund we have been warned that, according to strong medical evidence, an excess of body fat increases the risk of suffering from a host of cancers.

With more than a billion overweight people worldwide, and at least 300 million of those obese, the fiscal impact of the health consequences is potentially monumental.

One website (costofwar.com) keeps a running total of the amount of money spent by the US government to finance the war in Iraq.

They based their figures on estimates from the congressional budget office.

As well, they provide an index of what those dollars could have supplied in social goods.

For example, the rapidly advancing indicator yesterday noted the cost of the war has run well beyond $465 billion — that sum would have built over 4 million new houses in the USA.

And this is only one among many current conflicts afflicting our world.

These three small vignettes just provide the briefest sampler of the on-going litany of world woes that daily assail us from all quarters.

Crawling under the nearest rock to hide seems like a reasonable option.

In this light it is all the more amazing to witness the continued and remarkable resolve of peoples around our planet not to give up hope.

Locally, with youthful voices demonstrating their concern for the plight of their homeless peers last week, to self-help groups like AA or the Second Opinion Society continually holding out a helping and healing hand, people signal their refusal to give up.

From a young woman I know who is single-handedly championing the cause of trying to get the government to fund last-ditch surgical options for Yukoners whose weight problems severely compromise their health, to a growing community clamour to truly address the educational needs of our First Nation’s youth, a tenacious hope is abundantly present.

This Saturday at 10 a.m. in CYO Hall, the weekend soup kitchen volunteers and those thinking about volunteering are invited to a short information-sharing meeting.

Call Helena at 633-2669 for more information.

Next Wednesday, Nov. 7th, rumours have it that an affordable housing working group is convening as a result of interest sparked during the recent poverty and homelessness action week.

For more specifics, e-mail, yukonantipovertycoalition@gmail.com.

That same evening the Yukon Development Education Centre speaker series resumes.

These Wednesday evening talks at the AFY building at Third and Strickland begin at 7 p.m.

The series offers us an opportunity to hear from Yukoners who have been and are actively involved in global aid initiatives.

The next night Thursday, November 8th at 8 p.m. in CYO Hall, a staff person from Development and Peace will be urging our community to support a national initiative calling on our federal government to appoint an independent mining ombudsman.

This hopes to give poor communities in the global south a voice in enforcing environmental and health standards in Canadian mining corporations overseas.

On Wednesday, November 14th, the first organizational meeting for the Whitehorse Food Bank Society will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the basement of the United Church at Sixth and Main. These activities and many others are signs that we have a surplus of hope in our community.

Wouldn’t it be nice if governments of all levels would use their surpluses to match these efforts?