a personal response to marc garneaus canada must put the planets interests first

Since moving to Canada, my parents occasionally took me out to see the beautiful outdoors where the flowers blossomed in the springtime sunlight, or where the fish danced in the clear river waters of fall. Never in my life had I imagined how wondrous Canada’s landscape and native inhabitants were. Even the Canadians themselves appeared, at times, strange and confusing to me as a child. The indescribable cold chill I felt down my back (and still do to this day) the first time I stepped out of the plane, as an immigrant from China, was so startling that I still remember feeling like a bear woken up in the middle of his hibernation. I felt like I had stepped into someone else’s ‘house’ and was captivated by all the things that I had never had, nor had seen before. A few years past and I started to realize that that ‘house’ known as Canada had become my very own home as well; a very beautiful home.

Marc Garneau in his article, “Canada Must Put the Planet’s Interests First”, shared his opinion of how beautiful he felt that the entire planet was and that we should protect it so that it stays that way for future generations to come. Despite showing strong belief in Canadians making the first move in saving the Earth, I believe that anyone with knowledge of the planet’s current condition, including myself, after reading his essay has reason to agree with, or listen to him because he has a tone that is not forceful but rather friendly and conversational, he has an admirable argument with important supporting details, and he is clearly emphasizing the things that he thinks the reader should remember about his essay.

While reading Garneau’s essay, I was very compelled to the way he spoke as if he was talking to the reader in person. I could feel how serious he was about his argument and how important it was to him because of his collective first person point of view and because his diction was so easy to understand. His choice of colloquial words such as “smack” allow you to understand how he’s conveying what he believes and it is very effective because it allows his readers to sympathize easily by giving them a less urging feeling and a more casual sense (139, par. 3).

Part of persuading readers involves getting them to make connections easily so that the understanding and delivering of information from the text is much easier and faster. For me, Garneau had been able to make his essay so very fluid that every word felt like it belonged and that everything he said only strengthened his main argument more. Garneau begins by saying, “One of the consequences of going to space is that it changes the way you view our planet. It’s unavoidable. Once you see Earth from space, you can never again think of it in the same way” (138-139, par. 1). Here we can analyze that Garneau had already been to space and that because he had seen the Earth from there, he gained a completely unique picture in his mind than when someone who hadn’t seen it from space when they think of the Earth. Already from the start, he is saying that he has a stronger idea about his subject than the reader does and he does so by continually emphasizing how indefinable the beauty of the Earth is later on, again and again like it is undeniably natural for him to know his facts.

Garneau has many different supporting arguments that are very true and although they only talk about Canada, they still stand true for other countries and their citizens as well. A country such as the U.S can easily become the most effective inspiration to other countries in becoming more eco-friendly for the planet because it is very strong economically and counts as a large percentage of the Earth’s total population and landscape. If a country that big can convert to becoming eco-friendly, then other countries will follow and Garneau’s dream would actually become a reality. A few weeks ago, I watched a video while surfing the web made by Greg Craven, and in his video, he explains what might become of our planet and its inhabitants in terms of whether the planet is doomed or not and whether we decide to do something about it or not.

In only nine minutes and thirty-three seconds, Craven explains the four possible outcomes in the future for humanity and the Earth and makes a “silver bullet” argument about why humanity should worry about global warming right now (Craven 8:00 – 8:11). Garneau is arguing for the same reason that Craven argues for except that Garneau wishes for the beauty of the planet while Craven wishes for the survival of all humanity. Both are good goals and as Craven says, “The RISK of NOT acting far outweighs the risk of acting” (8:00 – 8:11); in other words, humanity should prepare for the worst outcome now so that even if it doesn’t happen, we will not lose something as invaluable as our lives or the planet Earth itself.

How does one describe our Earth? Garneau describes it as something that is “rather small and fragile” and uses imagery to stress that its beauty comes at the price of being brittle (139, par. 3). Maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the future, our planet may face imminent destruction and it will be disastrous; however, acting now could save it. Garneau also uses parallelism when he says, “To be sure, it’s a breathtakingly beautiful planet, a warm and inviting oasis of life, particularly when viewed against the stark and infinite backdrop of space” (139, par. 5), to remind the reader and to insist that he/she remembers this because it is important to Garneau’s argument that the reader understands how precious the planet should mean to him/her. I believe it is indubitably a one-and-only home to all of its inhabitants that protects those inhabitants and requires them to only take action now even after all the years of suffering it had to endure already.

I think humanity and every being on the planet owes a debt of gratitude to the planet and that that debt can only be repaid by taking precautions to that distant/nearby apocalypse. If everybody, not just Canada, on Earth can take action now and prepare for the worst by doing their part in lowering greenhouse gases emissions or by recycling to slow down global warming, then I’m positive that the Earth will live to see many more days to come. Garneau believes Canada can be the first to lead the way, but I have faith that everyone on this planet will guide themselves onto the more eco-friendly path.

Garneau’s essay reminded me just how much the Earth means to its inhabitants and why/how humanity can save it. He uses a very friendly tone while convincing his reader and not only has a strong argument to begin with but he is also able to guide his reader to what they need to know best. As the famous poet, T.S. Eliot, once said, “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper” (“The Hollow Men”, 97-98), and if humanity is to not die out in a catastrophic Armageddon, and take the entire planet along with its inhabitants with it, then there is only one course of action left: act now. If we prepare ourselves now, as Garneau would wish us to, for the sake of a future that we can guarantee, then we truly are putting the planet’s interests first.

Works Cited

  1. Garneau, Marc, and Ronald Conrad. Canada Must Put the Planet’s Interests First. 8th ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2006. 138-140. Print. Craven, Greg.
  2. “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 8 Jun. 2007. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.
  3. Eliot, T. S.. “The Hollow Men.” Poetry X. Ed. Jough Dempsey. 13 Jul 2003. 21 Oct. 2013.

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