The following opinion published in the Bishop’s University Student Newspaper deserves to be viraled and I hope it is.
Opinion — March 1, 2012 9:24 pm
Let’s play Russian roulette with the Spirit Bear Posted by Elyse Gagne
Sure, they’re irreplaceable, but who cares?
We all like oil, because we like the benefits that come from oil: like our heat and our gasoline. But we’re all hypocrites, because we don’t like to see the oil, pay for it, or sacrifice our lifestyles for it.
The Northern Gateway Project is one such example where we see the internal conflict of this country. We are pitting capitalism against environmentalism, job creation against ecosystems, progress versus extinction. It is easy to say that we want to be green — that we recycle or occasionally take the bus. But when the going gets tough, that is, when we are asked to give up our cars, our individually wrapped foods, or turn down our thermostats, suddenly environmentalism gets labelled tree-hugging-silliness and everybody vamooses to the nearest Starbucks (forgetting their reusable mugs).
The tragic thing is: this shouldn’t even be a discussion. The proposed route of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is right through prime British Columbian rain forest, a unique ecosystem that is as endangered as it is breathtaking. But that’s the kind of world we live in: one that still takes the Earth for granted, still has to have a debate about whether or not it is appropriate to destroy the only existing ecosphere for the rare Spirit Bear for a few jobs, tar sands oil, and a whole lot of monetary profit to the few. If people stopped thinking about profit in terms of dollars and cents, and started thinking of it in terms of bear cubs and clean creeks, maybe we’d get somewhere.
Enbridge’s proposed route would span 1 170 kilometres from Alberta to B.C., carrying about 525 000 barrels of crude oil daily in two parallel pipelines. From its destination in Kitimat it could then be placed on oil tankers and shipped worldwide. This route would cross 50 First Nations territories, land that is legally theirs, land that they call home.
Even putting aside Enbridge’s questionable track record, accidents still happen. Pipes leak. Oil tankers crash. Just the equipment bulldozing its way through the Great Bear rainforest is enough for any person with sense to say “stop!” We are playing Russian roulette with our most precious resources.
Let’s face it: Canada isn’t exactly culture-capital of the world. Tourists don’t necessarily travel to Canada for our history or our architecture. They might, but they have Europe for that. What we have is our natural beauty: our wild, free, True-North sublimity that is irreplaceable and 100% unique to our country. This is what makes us Canada. They don’t call it “Beautiful B.C.” for nothing. Our natural resources are more important than Olympic medals, than inventing the zipper, than our cultural mosaic, or our movie stars. They are more important than poutine and beaver tails, more important than hockey.
So why on earth would we risk it all? Has anybody thought about the international repercussions? Prime Minister Stephen Harper might not care, but our international reputation as environmental ethicists is going down the tubes. As per usual, the next generation can deal with the consequences and clean up the inevitable mess.