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The Future Is In Our Past


Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth has never particularly impressed me. It seemed the message missed some very important points, not the least of which being man's desire to control. Man's god-like vision of himself dictates that, if there's such a thing as global warming, it has to be caused by humans, because man orders everything on earth. Well, now it's official. Some important scientists, namely NASA, are venturing that there might be more to global warming than greenhouse gases. Scientists are saying that solar cycles may have played a role in global warming and will continue to do so.

The future is in our past - Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth has never particularly impressed me. It seemed the message missed some very important points, not the least of which being man's desire to control. Man's god-like vision of himself dictates that, if there's such a thing as global warming, it has to be caused by humans, because man orders everything on earth.

Well, now it's official. Some important scientists, namely NASA, are venturing that there might be more to global warming than greenhouse gases. Scientists are saying that solar cycles may have played a role in global warming and will continue to do so.

Paleontologists tell us that the Earth has undergone immense changes since its creation. Humans have never been responsible for earlier changes so why would we think that humans are responsible for the current changes?

Whatever its roots, Global Warming is going to change the way we think and live. The crackdown on industries that pollute the atmosphere is causing loss of jobs and a movement to stick closer to home. What goes around comes around... we are headed for a simpler life.

A simple life needs a vibrant local economy. The tourism industry could do with a boost. William Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."

The tide is in for tourism in Newfoundland. Whether it will be taken at the flood remains to be seen, for American visitation to Canada is down 14 per cent from last year already. Taken at face value, it might not seem a good time to be in the tourism business.

The dramatic decrease in visitors is discouraging until one remembers there is camaraderie in adversity. After years of trying to get tourism operators to come together to build a strong industry, the time for cooperation may have arrived.

The impact of tourism on the economy is not well understood, placing it well down on the government's priority list. An economic slowdown might enable governments and citizens alike to understand what tourism really means to the economy. Now may be the time to imprint upon government that tourism is an industry that has infinite value, unlike oil and gas, which has a shelf life.

If we truly understood the value of tourism and rallied around its promotion, there would not be such a need to attract every visitor from outside the province. Value starts with being proud and aware of our own blessings. It's an inconvenient truth that the majority of Newfoundlanders don't have an inkling of the riches that lie hidden in the province, right under their noses.

With a toxic competition between tourism operators and the afterthought mentality of governments, tourism has always slipped under the radar. The time has come, the walrus said, to think of many things - the cost of food, the cost of gas and the loss of youth to mainland Canada. Big changes in the global economy have arrived, and they're going to dictate how our lives unfold.

We live in one of the most product rich areas of the province. There is so much to see around the loop. But do our neighbours know that there are positive attractions outside the urban centres? It may come as a surprise that, never mind urban centres, many people who actually live close to tourism sites do not know of their existence.

Ask anyone if they know of the Random Passage beach and cemetery on Cape Island, the Crow Gulch and the Lumsden beaches, not to mention such well-known attractions as the Barbour Site in Newtown or the Banting Site in Musgrave Harbour and one gets a blank stare. How many people drive by the Carmanville wetlands without understanding its nature and value?

Like the Earth, we've undergone many changes over the past decades. Many wonderful tourism sites have been built with money allocated to compensate for the loss of the fishery. Maybe it was because of the reason for the money that not many people took notice. Just another make work project without much meaning was probably the way many tourism projects were viewed.

Like the Earth, Newfoundland will continue to undergo changes. There is no way to stop change just as there is no way to stop global warming. If we are going to continue to live in rural Newfoundland, we have to accept and manage the changes.

The trouble with living in Newfoundland is we have always danced to the tune of people outside the province. Development and marketing plans have used models that have not been particularly well suited to the rural, isolated nature of rural communities.

Shakespeare also said, "Action is eloquence." What is needed now is positive action, not only from everyone involved in the tourism industry but, as well, from each and every one of us, to become aware of our heritage. There is no doubt in my mind, if given a chance, rural ideas and rural facilities will be the big winners, especially in a weak global economy.

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