Rachel Keedwell of the Horizons Regional Council: the role of environmental stewardship is essential

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Rachel Keedwell says it’s not possible to continue living with an infinite growth pattern when we live on a finite planet. Photo / Provided

OPINION:

This is my last column before the municipal elections in October as election season begins soon. I want to leave you with some thoughts on why I championed Horizons and what I believe is important.

When I first became interested in Horizons’ decision-making process, I found that agricultural and business interests were strongly represented, but there was not as strong an understanding of the importance of protecting our environment in the future. I chose to use my background in ecology and conservation to bring that voice to the table. I have been defending our environment and our communities for nearly nine years and would love the opportunity to continue doing so for another term.

I believe that the role of the regional council in environmental stewardship is essential and must be considered as a priority in the decision-making process. We have no planet B and no plan B if we destroy our environment. For too long we have treated the environment as an inexhaustible source of resources to be exploited and used for personal ends and private profit. Too often, our economic models are based on the free subsidy provided by the environment. This leads to the privatization of benefits, but the socialization of costs when extracting these benefits causes environmental or societal damage.

It is simply not possible to continue living with a pattern of infinite growth when we live on a finite planet – to believe otherwise is to ignore the reality that human beings are part of the web of life on this planet. For too long, humans have viewed themselves as superior to all other life forms, as if this complex and balanced ecological web of life did not apply to us.

Gallingly, we have also considered Western or developed cultures to be more civilized, but we have not observed that this civilized approach has taken us further and further away from the crucial understanding that we are part of nature, not separate of this, an understanding if -the so-called primitive cultures have a much firmer grip on.

We consider western science to be superior to indigenous knowledge, but it is the exclusive focus of western science that is largely responsible for us getting into the predicaments we currently find ourselves in. To believe that an as yet unknown technology will solve all our problems is to ignore what caused these problems.

Problems such as climate change, societal collapse, pollution, species extinction and resource depletion are just symptoms of the larger problem of ecological overshoot or, in other words, life far beyond the means of this finite planet. Tackling the cause of this problem will involve a systemic change in the way humans operate, a change on a far greater scale than simply recycling or trading in your gas-powered car for an electric car.

These issues are a little bigger than what can be solved at the regional council, but I am doing what I can to change our thinking and give hope to future generations.

• Rachel Keedwell is President of the Horizons Regional Council

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