Being someone who’s concerned with the environment and social justice, I like to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I do all of the required eco-friendly things such as taking public transit as much as possible, using my car sparingly, driving a fuel-efficient 4 cylinder car, washing in cold water and drying some of my clothes on a rack, not using chemicals to unblock my drain, reducing, re-using and recycling as much as I can etc…

But what galls me is when I receive various news bulletins from different activist organizations I’m part of, either in the mail, or online, exhorting me to oppose a certain free trade deal, or to stop a certain mining project, or to oppose the tar sands in Alberta, or better yet, promote ‘Green Energy’, I find that they are often in direct contradiction with the real world.

First off, no human activity, ‘Green’ or otherwise, has zero environmental impact. One could argue that human civilization itself, having risen above the natural order, is a form of ‘pollution’ and therefore should be eliminated. So why don’t we just pass a law, outlawing our own existence, have a big Jonestown Jamboree, drink the Kool Aid, and all off ourselves peacefully and give it all back to Mother Nature?

Some of the ‘Green’ technologies that environmentalists are lobbying for, such as solar power, require massive inputs of solar panels, which need such things as what are known as ‘rare earth metals’ which are minerals found so far only in certain parts of the world, including Canada, and which are often mixed in with, surprise! Uranium! So to get more rare earth metals to power our burgeoning solar power industry, (these metals are also crucial to powering cell phones, I Pads, I Phones, Blackberries, computers etc…), we need to extract more uranium, which can also be used for nuclear power, not to mention to power the U.S.A.’s fleet of nuclear aircraft carriers, which keep the global sea lanes free from marauding pirates and sundry minor and major scum buckets, not to mention rescuing any merchant ship on the high seas which needs it.

As for the ‘Tar Sands’ as they call Alberta’s Oil Sands developments, I’m not quite sure if they realize how many tens of billions of dollars that these projects pump into the federal and provincial treasuries in royalty revenues, which, by the way helps to sustain our precious health care and other public services, which these people are always saying need to be protected from the evils of corporate malfeasance.

The reason our health care system emerged to begin with was because Canada was beginning to become a more technologically complex society based on urban and industrial development, and its people were being exposed to endogenous and exogenous stressors and toxic loads like they had never known before, and needed a more scientifically-based and publically financed health system to heal them, and it came to be accepted that taxes on the private sector, as well as individuals be used to finance such measures, since we came to realize that the very industrial development which was causing so much wealth to be created and making some people prosperous, was making others sick as a result, and causing them undue social and economic hardship.

So honestly, I think the people at Suncor energy are aware that their development is causing environmental degradation, but are doing at least something to attenuate the damage by contributing billions to government coffers to finance public services, and to clean up the tailings ponds in the oil sands projects, which I took the trouble to visit personally in 2009 during my cross-Canada trip.

As Ted Nugent, the rock singer said, ‘Name Your Poison’. In other words, everything has a downside to it. Currently we’re still running on fossil fuels until further notice, and mining is still going to cause pollution, regardless what is mined to create more cars, or shiny transit buses or trains. We just have to make sure our footprint is as small as possible, not ‘Brontosaurus size’. Because we know what happened to those guys. Like Sting sang when he was with the Police: ‘Hey mighty brontosaurus, don’t you have a lesson for us… Walking in your footsteps.. .’ We don’t want to end up like them. So let’s keep our footprints on ‘human scale’, like Fritz Schumacher said in ‘Small is Beautiful’.

I’ll keep on subscribing to those organization’s bulletins, and I’ll probably continue sending them donations when I can, but I just can’t wholeheartedly get behind their shrill rhetoric. It’s too negative and unrealistic in a world such as ours that needs development more than ever.

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