Balance, the Environment and the Art of Fly-casting.

There’s an art to fly-casting. How you hold the rod. The action of your wrist. Your ability to coax the line to your will until a rhythm takes the fly exactly where you want it. Late summer sun still over the trees. The rippling river ebbing and flowing beneath your knees. I don’t think I could prescribe or be prescribed anything better for anxiety or stress. No phones or WIFI. No hospital pages or emergency surgeries. It’s a deep cleanse for the mind. It’s a detox for the soul.

Ever find yourself in one of those moments where you try to hang onto it as long as you can? Something you know you’ll come back to again and again as a mental oasis no matter where the years take you. I had one of those recently. I went salmon fishing with dad and my son, Mark. Three generations of Fureys on a river trying master that ancient art. The only sounds are the water against the stones, a little breeze through the trees and the lines cutting through the air to some pool in the shade. Your lungs fill with what feels like the cleanest air you’ve ever breathed.

I’m sure there are scenes like this being played out across the big land, from the Change Islands to Victoria, Great Slave Lake to Niagara. How lucky are we to live in a country as blessed with such incredible nature? Yet, collectively, we’ve somehow taken it for granted. Climate change is real. It’s happening now all around us in ways we may not even realize. I saw a news story last week about how microplastics have been detected in the ice of the Arctic. I don’t understand the science of how that is even possible, but I feel like I should. We all should.

Right now, the Amazon is burning. It’s been referenced countless times on the news as being “the lungs of the world” providing approximately 20% of the planet’s oxygen. The Amazon is home to approximately 10 million species of plants animals and insects, and it stretches almost the size of Quebec and Ontario combined. The damage happening here will be felt for generations to come. How is this not the number one story on every news outlet? How is it that more people are not talking about this? 

Our generation must stand up to the threat of climate change and take immediate action. There are artificial borders created around countries, but they only exist for land. The same oxygen that is produced in the Amazon spreads around the world. We are all connected. The air blends and communities blend. This issue is not an us versus them issue, this is all of us.

Most global scientists agree that the earth’s temperature will continue to get warmer, ice will continue to melt, and the water levels will rise unless we act to curb it. Is it too late? Critics suggest that it is impossible, that carbon targets are too high to ever realistically be reached. Others are loudly dramatic that the world will end tomorrow if you turn on your car. I don’t subscribe to either of these positions. I believe what we need is balance.

Responsibility for the climate and the economy can go hand in hand. They are not in competition despite the fact they are often framed that way. In order to have a strong economy, you need a healthy, strong, safe, and clean environment. Likewise, in order to advance to a better environment, we need to have a strong economic engine to drive this change as we embrace more sustainable platforms. Throughout the course of history, disruption has driven opportunity, from new ideas to business opportunities, to new products and employment. It’s all about balance.

Progress is out there, and we have come a long way in certain respects. We’ve moved beyond some threats like acid rain and we’ve slowed the damage to the ozone layer. But there’s so much more that needs to be done. We have to start thinking beyond borders about this. There has to be a balance of helping developing countries to continue to climb out of poverty while protecting and preserving what we have. I have seen this struggle firsthand. To suggest to some economically depressed countries to not use a cheap energy alternative like coal is a hard sell. In such places, you can’t tell a family that doesn’t have the luxury of electricity or even a kitchen that alternate energy sources are the way to go. Their option is as blunt as this: use coal or starve.

We all need to provide options for the developing world, not judgment. This can be achieved with international cooperation. Supporting the most impoverished economies in the world will allow them to develop in a robust responsible manner, and in turn, drive other economies while maintaining a green agenda. When it comes to the environment there is no developing or non-developing oxygen, there is simply oxygen.

To achieve balance, we all must take a deep breath and do something. Be environmental activists. Live it locally. Feel it globally. For me, I want Maggie, Rachael and, Mark to be able to stand in that river years from now with their children and grandchildren and tell them how there was once a great threat to all this. But it was answered by those who believed and fought for the balance of all things.