Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Missing Ontario? - Really?

Well no not really, but after a recent visit realizing some things I do miss. I haven't even been in Edmonon a year but it's been busy and quite the whirlwind, from the move, the new position, spending nearly every weekend traveling to the mountains, and now on the verge of starting a new business venture at the end of the November it's been exciting to say the least. Anyone who would asked what I thought about if I made the right move always received the same answer of undoubtedly. Usually followed with the only thing I ever miss is the great friends whom still live there. Last weekend one of those great friends brought me back to Ontario to stand in his wedding. (Which on a side note was an amazing wedding, intimate, surrounded by love, and an amazing group of friends and family that reflected how special the bride and groom are). But aside from the opportunity to catch up with many great friends I also had to opportunity to realize some of the beauty of Southern Ontario that many of it's residence take for granted and obviously I did as well needing to go back to appreciate it.

After flying in on the red eye the first sign I missed some of Ontario was waking up at Dave's in the morning to one of the most brilliantly red trees I've ever seen outside the window. It was nearly glowing every morning with the sun breaking through an over cast sky, which couldn't help but put a smile on my face every morning while I was there. Falls in Ontario where always my favorite time of the year. I may have fooled my self into thinking it was the start of each mountain bike race season but truly it was the long falls. Firstly Ontario temperatures, and moisture bless it with a beautiful fall colors year after year, brilliant and soothing. Secondly the fall always seemed like such a peaceful time as there was no more pressures of racing or training and it was time to do what love for the reasons you loved it. And if you where brave enough to go out in the -5 t o+ 5 weather you where always rewarded with less people and a feeling of being in nature not taking advantage of it. I'd even argue Mountain Biking through Durham forest with tacky trail and fall colors at the south end and snow covered tracks on the north could fit with any Epic on anyones list.

What really put this into perspective was Sunday, after the wedding on my way to catch up with some university friends in Hamilton I decided to take the backroads through the Halton region and go for a walk around Rattlesnake Point, one of my old running spots. The 10 or 12KM hike we did blew me away with it's beauty looking over the escarpment into the valley of fall colors dotted by farmland as well as the vibrant colors from the trees, mixed in with the dark colors of the fallen leaves and contrasted again by the bright greens still alive in the moss. I'd have the say beauty and the feeling of calmness rivals what I've done in the rockies this summer. Sure the hike was nowhere near as difficult or challenging. Nor is the opportunity to feel like you escaped society as you are lost in the wilderness, but the ease of completing it is one of the things I appreciate on a relaxing fall day. And the region Halton has many more of these areas to explore.

Secondly what I missed is the quaint communities from more of a settling time. Everyone things of Southern Ontario for it's cookie cutter homes, big box stores and millions upon millions residents. However, the area is also surrounded by some quaint communities dating back 150 to 200 years such as Dundas, Lowville, Waterdown, Flamborough, Guelph and Kingston who have embraced the history and maintained these cores, with their old brick buildings, narrower streets that are pedestrian friendly. Lined with store fronts and cafes creating some genuine oasis from the Southern Ontario we all see on the news and many live daily without realizing the escapes around them. Now if only we could move one of these communities to the border of the Rockies I could have the best of both worlds.

Would I move back, nope what Western Canada has offered me so far is much more in line with my lifestyle, hobbies, and dreams of where I want to be. However I strongly encourage the many Ontarians who don't take advantage of some of the areas mentioned above or even worst complain about to get out and realize what they do have.

Human Impact - Are We Causing our Own Extinction

Our Inferences about life in the past are based on fossil remains suggesting that species expand in number and complexity and then are suddenly reduced through successive spams of extinction. Scientist have identified 5 major extinctions in the past 550 million years and each has taken approximately 10 million years of natural evolution to restore.

We are fortunate to have evolved when biological diversity has been at the greatest level ever achieved. Succeeding human generations will not be as fortunate: the current extinction crisis is without precedent - never before has a single species been responsible for such a massive loss of diversity. In essence, humans are the catalyst driving the earth's sixth major extinction event.

I find the following illustration a great example of the unprecedented rate and scale of human activity is graphically illustrated by Alan Thein Durning in his paper "Saving the Forests: What Will It Take?"

Imagine a time-lapse film of the Earth taken from space. Play back the last 10,000 years sped up so that a millennium passes every minute. For more then seven of the ten minutes, the screen displays what looks like a still photograph: the blue planet Earth, its lands swathed in a mantle of trees. Forests cover 34 percent of the land. Aside from the occasional flash of a wildfire, none of the natural changes in hte forest coat are perceptible. The Agricultural Revolution that transforms human existence in the film's first minute is invisible.

After seven and a half minutes, the lands around Athens and the tiny Islands of the Aegean Sea lose their froest. This is the flowering of Classical Greece. Little else changes. at nine minutes - 1,000 years ago - the mantle grows threadbare in scatered parts of Europ, Central America, China, and India. then 12 Seconds from the end, one century ago Eastern North America is deforested. This is the Industrial Revolution. Little else appears to have changed. Forest covers 32 percent of the land.

In the last three seconds - after 1950 - the change accelerates explosively. Vast tracts of forest vanish from Japan, the Philippines, and the mainland of Southeast Asia, from most of Central America and the horn of Africa, from Western North America and Eastern South America, fron the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa. fires rage in the Amazon basin where they never did before, set by ranchers and peasants. Central Europe's forests die, posoned by the air and rain. Southeast Asia resembles a fod with mange. Malaysian Borneo appears shaved. In the final fractions of a second the clearing spreads to Siberia and the Canadian North. Forest disappear so suddenly from so many places that looks like a plague of locusts has descended on the planet.

The film on the last frame. Trees cover 26 percent of the land. Three-fourths of the original forest area still bears some tree cover. But just 12 percent of the Earth's surface - one third of the initial total - consists of intact forest ecosystems. the rest holds biologically impoverished stnad of commercial timber and fragmented regrowth. This is the present: a globe profoundly altered by the workings - or failings - of the human economy.