Excuse me while I get a little something off my chest… In 5 1/2 months I have visited 24 countries and independent states, and travelled across two continents. I was always so happy to say I was from Canada, so proud of the politics of civil equality and the conveniences we so oft take for granted, and then I got caught up on my environmental politics – all the things I’ve missed while exploring other reaches of the world – and I have never been so ashamed of my government to learn about their epic sell-out, to realize that our government would rather jeopardize our water, our air, our health with dollar signs in their eyes and corrupt hopes of wealth by investing in tar sands than concerning themselves with damages it will do to our home and our health. But then I remember that our country is governed by a bunch of old men, a posse of politicians who will be dead before the rest of us have to clean up after them.
Greedy old men should not be looking at a “quick fix” to stuff their pockets as we recover from that so-called economic crisis.
Sustainability is the only thing that will see us through in the long haul. If we kill our home, we kill our future, and all their short-sightedness will gain is fat pockets for those few at the top while the rest of us have to pinch our thin wallets and be forced to decide between the more easily afforded genetically-modified, over-processed crap they try to pass as food which leads to even more health problems, or the (usually) more expensive organic and locally grown produce. We could opt for the former to save a few dollars, or, preferably, we could invest in sustainable food sources that are better for our health and planet.
But no matter what we choose, those dollar bills can’t reverse the poisoning of our water once it’s turned into toxic sludge in collection pools or clean up a spill when a pipeline ruptures. It CAN, however, support sustainable alternatives and bide us a little time while we find other means to fuel our “first world” lifestyle because the depressing truth is that, in the long run, those day to day decisions won’t matter if we let our government bend to corporate greed and poison our water supply. All of those dollars our government aspires to reap from the sale of oil will be useless when the carcinogenic pollution robs us all of our health and water.
Instead of wasting our precious resources in the environmentally costly exploit to mine the tar sands, investments into ecologically-sustainable power sources would be the far more logical solution. I’ve heard arguments about the career opportunities in the tar sands, but rewarding opportunities can exist by putting emphasis back in creating jobs in eco-friendly innovations as well – and quite frankly, those are jobs I would sleep better at night after doing.
We can send letters to parliament and protest destructive aspirations, but we should also realize that WE are the people of this country and we do, in fact, have the power to make change happen in our lifetime. Sure, we can only vote every 4 years and a lot can happen in the meantime, but this in no way reflects the power of OUR hard-earned money and how we choose to spend it. It may mean breaking old habits, making the effort to learn where our food comes from and reading the fine print from time to time, choosing to work closer to home and/or taking transit or biking to work, but it is a small effort to exert that WILL make a big difference.
Still, the long and short of it remains: We need to end this crippling dependency on oil as soon as possible and remember that every dollar we spend is deciding our future. We need to treat daily spending – our everyday purchases – as investments into the future we want by buying products from the organizations we want to support.
But, especially, we really do need to speak up in defence of the things we value most: clean water.
Still not convinced? Consider this: 95% of the water used in oil sands surface mining is so polluted it has to be stored in toxic sludge pits. That’s 206,000 litres of toxic waste every day. The pollution produced in the mining process causes cancer and is so acidic, that when it reaches the ocean, contributes to the growth of “dead zones” which are so anoxic they can no longer support life.
And they are growing.
You can learn more at OilSandsRealityCheck.org