Hello all, (Source Remy Quinter)
My good highschool friend and treeplanting companion, Chris Hatch, wrote the defining ecological report on the tar sands in 2008 with Matt Price (We were born in Vancouver, Canada).
The report, commissioned through Environmental Defence, is called: The Most Destructive Project on Earth.
Garth Lenz (TedX guy) was their photographer, so I’m well aware of what is going on. Their report (which was mostly ignored) is here:
In 2005, I was working in the renewable energy sector in Canada, and we were all so aware of what was going on with Oil and Coal. In British Columbia there are vast reserves of oil just offshore in one of the more delicate ocean ecosystems (imagine the Queensland Gov’t discovering that one of the largest remaining deposits of oil in the world lie beneath the great barrier reef — that’s the situation in BC).
And I looked at the projections, and I saw where it was going — no matter what we do, with the current trends, eventually there is going to be deep-sea platforms drilling oil off of the Coast of BC, and eventually there is going to be an ecological disaster there. My conclusion was that we, as a global population with our current level of consciousness, are going to drill every drop of oil out of the ground and mine every ounce of coal out of the ground — end of story. This is why I immediately dropped what I was doing and put all of my energies in the consciousness movement.
My thoughts don’t approach the issue head-on because I think the head-on approach just doesn’t work. Not only does it not work, I also think it ossifies and contracts those who are concerned with the environment into angry egos, which is the opposite to the highest human potential, which is expansive, creative, compassionate, and, well, a kind of Himalayan wellspring of joy and optimism.
I think sometimes we forget just what Canada (and Australia?) was founded upon, and the cultural karma that goes with that:
Canada was founded as a series of resource-extraction colonies that were satellite feedpoints to enrich the early TransNationalCorporation’s of England (the main reason France and Spain failed in their colonization of the Americas was that their organization was still basically feudal and mercantile in nature, and not gov’t-backed corporate/capitalistic).
England (specifically the genius of Elizabeth I) through the gov’t-backed LLC in the early 1500’s created a venture system that is unparalleled in efficiency of organization, especially with resource extraction.
(The only Nation to compare in capitalistic organizational efficiency at that time were the Dutch, with the Dutch East India Company [VOC]. And for those who don’t think that this historical mindset is still significant, look just at a couple of the top Dutch MNC’s: Royal DUTCH Shell Petroleum (SHELL), ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading integrated steel and mining company, ING, one of the largest banks. — If you think the Dutch don’t represent everything that you aren’t fighting against in terms of small is beautiful, etc., there is NO oil and gas exploration, or even much refining going on in the Netherlands, folks!!!)
So, back to Canada and the tarsands and Karma for a moment: After the independence of the U.S. in the late 1700’s, Canada, in order to still operate as a profitable resource-extraction satellite for the UK, became one colony, who’s history includes the decimation of the beaver population through the fur trade, decimation of Atlantic Old Growth forests through the Timber trade (Canada basically provided all the timber for the British warships and mercantile ships, so they could create the first truly global expansionist economy), decimation of the Grand Banks Cod stocks, decimation of the Pacific Salmon stocks, decimation of valleys and rivers through strip mining, decimation and total alteration of innumerable ecosystems and almost every major river system through Hydroelectric projects (including Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, BC).
This last point in interesting: The ultra-large dams built in British Columbia from the 1940’s through the 1970’s, which are the source of cheap “renewable” energy, besides destroying vast ecosystems (fish, wildlife, forests — the forest weren’t even logged, just submerged), also destroyed most of the more successfully sustainable and peaceful non-aboriginal communities in Canada: The doukhobors. They had lived peacefully in the very valleys that were scheduled to be flooded, and were forcibly removed, the children forcibly taken from the families to be institutionalized in boarding schools. Total cultural genocide.
This cultural destruction (notwithstanding ecological destruction) is very, very recent history that is forgotten easily in people’s wish to believe that Canadians are ecologically, or highminded. British Columbia is land that mostly was never even ceded by treaty — it is mostly occupied land, according to the world law courts.
This is to say that the original dominant essence of the Canadian psyche has no ecological leanings whatsoever. The Canadian psyche, in essence, seeks survival and prosperity through raw resource extraction and export to the hub economy. And in a cold climate, this prosperity is contingent upon organization upon a massive scale.
So, the Tar Sands is just Karmaic (or historical) BAU – Business as Usual. To REALLY fight such a venture is to propose to dissolve the very idea of Canada (as to truly fight the Coal mining in Australia is to probably do the same).
Guys like David Suzuki are considered Nutbars by the majority of ordinary citizens. He’s tolerated for his genius in times of prosperity, but in (perceived) times of lack or downturn, the old ways reassert themselves immediately.
And the old ways are that the very IDEA of Canada is founded upon Elizabeth I’s genius of agreeing to create the Gov’t-backed LLC (Limited Liability Corporation), and expanding into hinterlands to systematically exploit a resource. That’s over 500 years of cultural momentum, blindness, bias and greed, folks.
If you don’t figure out a way to face this cultural and economic juggernaut (and that’s EXACTLY what it is, a juggernaut) without getting crushed yourself, you WILL NOT crack this nut, for all your fact-waving and hand-wringing about ecodestruction, I guarantee you.
In case you haven’t noticed, there have been many non-capitalistic experiments, all of which so far have failed. This is the rub: The capitalistic democracies are the surviving successful models. The mercantile ones failed (Argentenians deeply admire Australian organization, and often wish to emulate Australians, who they consider to be better managers of resources and wealth), the socialist ones failed, the communist ones failed…
BTW, Australia is also the oldest continuous democracy in the World. Canada is the second. I suggest that a very strong reason that both Countries have such strong democracies is the combination of strong-centralized government that is based upon a Colonial organizational mindset combined with great natural resources that they are willing to exploit unashamedly. Tinkering with the TarSands is tinkering with that — you HAVE to find a better model of government, investment and wealth distribution if you really want to tackle this, and I suggest that doing so means actually re-educating entire cultures as to the nature of ego and the unconscious, not necessarily making them feel bad about their current behaviour and organization (which is what we are aiming to do by criticizing the tarsands projects).
TarSands and the Aboriginals there is a similar situation again to rising sea waters and TSIslanders. Both communities are on the thin edge of the wedge of ecological collapse and destruction at the hands of expansive global capitalism, which so far is totally unstoppable….
Upgrade in consciousness, anyone?