May 22, 2013

Goodbye, Caribou.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada.

The caribou, or reindeer, of Canada used to migrate throughout the North from New Brunswick to Alberta and beyond through the boreal forests to what used to be called the Northwest Territories.

Now in Alberta, only five percent of the boreal forest survives—a thin corridor for the caribou and other migrating animals. Nothing much survives when the rich and colorful boreal forest full of bird song, wildlife and a variety of plant species is stripped down to naught but tar sands—a bleak, black and lifeless environment.

But not silent, for the machinery of destruction roars and grinds day and night.

Some of the machines are so monstrous, there’s an engine for each gigantic tire. So, even when not in use, the huge machines are left to idle, as it’s deemed easier than having to start up the engines one by one. And the bare, black sands are left lit with spotlights at night—a surreal scene not found in nature. And, why? To satisfy human greed and convenience.

Yet given the interdependence of everything animate and inanimate, what lasting happiness can be bought with such destruction? Certainly not a cottage by a lake; the remaining lakes are being polluted. Certainly not a riverbank from which to swim or fish; the fish are dying and it’s not safe to swim in those waters.

Can money buy or replace what nature has already offered us?

Because the Harper government of Canada has drastically reduced protection to waterways and lakes, the First Nations are alarmed as this has been done on their reserves without consultation. Nor have Canadian citizens been consulted.

Can the dirtiest source of oil justify this? Please do not be seduced by those like Prime Minister Harper who say pipelines are the answer.

Unless the answer you are looking for is black and bleak.

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Ed: T. Lemieux/Kate Bartolotta

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