Wild Canada: Should humanity reduce our global footprint?
THE FUTURIAN #3
Should people be everywhere? In the age of space colonization, seasteads, and a rising global population, we rarely question the notion that human expansion is inevitable. What if it isn’t? Imagine a world of more limited, intentional human presence that balanced our comfort and productivity with cultivating a rich, natural global ecosystem.
This vision is at the heart of the movement known as rewilding. This article will focus on rewilding’s place in Canada. Rewilding takes shape in big and small forms, from lawns replaced with native wildflowers or butterfly ways to reintroducing wild bison to Banff National Park. For many, today’s rewilding is defensive, and rightfully so, as it focuses on protecting or reintroducing endangered species and habitats impacted by anthropogenic activity: pollution, climate change, deforestation, soil erosion, dirty water, and more. Even defensively, rewilding offers promise. It could fight climate change, reduce mass species extinction, prevent erosion and natural disasters, mature Canadian identity, and inspire us to be better.
There are also legitimate concerns about rewilding. For instance, reintroducing wolves might impact farmer’s livelihoods or force further density in cities, reducing affordability. As expected, much like the Leap Manifesto, which Conrad Black called “economic suicide,” there has been establishment resistance. The report Off Limits: How Radical Environmentalists are Stealing Canada’s National Parks (2000) does the usual anti-business fearmongering. It also raises an interesting point, which I’ll quote from the National Parks Act (1930):
“Parks are hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment, subject to the provisions of this Act and Regulations, and such Parks shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Modern society faces a paradox in our relationship to nature. We consume it for our enjoyment, for instance, by deforesting a mountain to build ski lifts. But we also curate it for the future and the planet, which serves our survival today and the needs of our future descendants. To make nature accessible, we must develop it. Yet, if we develop it, we…