Thursday, July 24, 2008


Our planet's future

Having planned a number of articles to do with global environmental problems which we now face, I thought you might ask “what has this to do with Nordic Walking?” In suggesting an answer I will say that Nordic Walkers are, first and foremost, citizens of the planet and we all owe a common duty of care to our world and its future. There are many things we can do as individual citizens and also, there are some measures we can expedite as part of our Nordic Walking praxis. In forthcoming articles I plan to talk about both. You must also forgive me if this opening chapter sounds like a rant. It is.

This first episode sets the stage.

During the last thirty or so years the world has become increasingly aware of the environmental problems its rapid development is causing. I recollect the groundbreaking analysis published in the magazine “The Ecologist” in 1972 entitled “A Blueprint for Survival” and it’s still hard to see any change in our seemingly mindless rush towards environmental impacts. Already some of the major problems previously identified are now affecting the planet.

In 1987 the Bruntland report (also known as “Our Common Future”) alerted the world again to the urgency of making progress towards a more sustainable future. Twenty years later and we are still not dealing with the problem in an adequate manner.

Air pollution from emissions, the consumption of natural resources, the production of vast quantities of waste, acid rain, poverty, global warming and ozone depletion are all affecting us now. Governments are beginning to recognise that the level of environmental degradation which current practices of economic development are having cannot be sustained without significant impacts upon future generations. But yet we do not have a multi-nationally agreed strategy to solve the problem.

A shocking report emerged very recently which has shown that the air quality in Beijing is so bad that the marathon may have to be deleted from the Olympics! We learn that officials in Beijing have introduced measures to improve matters for the games. But what happens when everyone has gone home?

Apparently, data gathered by satellite reveals that Beijing is one of the worst environmental victims of China’s rapid industrial growth. Furthermore, air pollution is so bad nationally, that conservation groups say that acid rain falls on one third of China’s territory. This has resulted in around 70% of rivers and lakes being so full of toxins they can no longer be used for drinking water.

Climate change is particularly challenging. Whilst the warning signs are there, governments, the big corporate organisations and also individual citizens have only taken tentative steps towards a sustainable future.

Only recently I noticed an advert in a popular magazine for a new “vitamin water” drink launched by a well known cola drink company. (A press release I subsequently found on the same subject read “thirst no more….”) Later in the same magazine, there appeared an advert for a charity whose aim is to bring drinking water, of any description, to a massive section of the planet where there is a dire shortage. As a member of the developed world, I felt utter shame.

I could go on….and on. A bleak picture perhaps, but one which we must face. What can we do as ordinary citizens, or as Nordic Walking citizens? I will look at some of the things which we can realistically do in forthcoming articles. It’s not important that the measures I suggest may only be “drops in the ocean”. At least, if implemented, you become part of the solution and not just part of the problem.

Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker Leeds UK

I have posted last fall two articles (use automatic translation if needed!) in a blog dedicated to NW :

* La Marche Nordique est-elle Développement Durable ?
* La Marche Nordique est-elle Développement Durable (suite)?

It has been written by a french GP.
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