A secret obsession was recently exposed and went viral on social media. It appears many have the Roman Empire on their minds. Posts with the hashtag #RomanEmpire pulled in millions of views across multiple platforms. It was surprising to see just how many people are still thinking about the storied institutions, enduring ancient infrastructure, and gritty gladiators.

With my ancestral road leading back to Rome, I’ve been privy to the historic highlights and Italian cultural influences. Sustainable agriculture and circular economies are second nature to many Italians and Italian immigrants. My travels from boot to ball have afforded me a good glimpse into the Italian glory days, as well as insight into the various battles and challenges of government corruption.

The famous Colosseum in Rome is a large amphitheater that hosted events like gladiatorial games. It was built by emperors as a gift to the Roman people. (Credit: Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash)

The biggest battle facing Canadians today? You don’t have to be an environmental practitioner to come up with climate change; 2023 forced us all to face record flooding, heat and ice storms, and wildfires.

Municipal managers – who in a way are the emperors of our time, responsible for their various districts – are baring the brunt of climate change as they absorb a staggering increase in climate change related costs and responsibilities of mitigation and cleanup.

“In municipalities of all sizes across the country, we’re seeing the amount of damage — it’s unbelievable,” says Scott Pearce, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Mayor of the Municipality of Gore, Quebec in a statement for the Canadian Press. “Provincial and federal governments must invest more. We’re seeing more and more damage year by year.”

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The 2023 wildfire season resulted in the most land mass burned in Canada since reliable record keeping began more than a half century ago. (Credit: Getty Images)

Canadians by and large agree. According to a recent poll from Nanos Research, more than seven in 10 Canadians say they are aware of the necessity of climate action targets, and almost half want Canada to aim to be ahead rather than behind other major economies when it comes to meeting these targets. When asked what most undermines their confidence that we can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, respondents said government inaction and a lack of enforcement or continual investment in and dependence on oil, pipelines, fossil fuels and tar sands.

In December, the federal government published the first Progress Report on the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (which indicates we’re bending the curve on GHG emissions), Canada became the first major fossil-fuels exporting country in the world to announce an oil and gas emissions cap, and our environment minister was a key participant at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), where he helped guide a commitment for the most ambitious global climate action to date.

COP28: Canada Daily Highlights - December 10, 2023

Steven Guilbeault, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change (third from the right), called for transformative conversations to deliver proactive outcomes at COP28. (Credit: Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I’m proud to know Canada is making progress in building an environmentally responsible system for future generations.

Interestingly, on his Christmas list this year, my son included a book by a memorable Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Meditations remains one of the greatest works of ethical philosophy ever written. With its collection of views on human behaviour, Aurelius provides wisdom and practical guidance on living in the world and dealing with adversity.

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I couldn’t help but peruse the pages before wrapping it up. Many of the timeless meditations resonated with me but this one stood out:

“Pass through this brief patch of time in harmony with nature, and come to your final resting place gracefully, just as a ripened olive might drop, praising the earth that nourished it and grateful to the tree that gave it growth.”

My resolution for 2024 is to do my part in communicating and sharing sound environmental solutions from our engaged network of consultants and contractors, to call out corrupt greenwashing and misinformation, and to help achieve harmony in this natural amphitheater we call earth.

Connie Vitello is editor of Environment Journal. Join the conversation by emailing connie@actualmedia.ca.

Featured image credit: Unsplash/Deniz Altindas





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