10 07 22 Canada's Oil Spill

The BP oil spill in the gulf: how are you feeling about it by now? Are you tired of the coverage and just wishing it would go away? Or do you continue to be appalled: appalled anew with every report of how the spill is affecting the shore line or the wildlife; appalled as we learn more of how the health and livelihood of the people who make the Gulf Coast their home is being altered. Its pretty evident by now that a major part of the Gulf coast will be permanently altered as a result of this spill and that many people's way of life will be changed forever.

But what about the looming “made in Canada” oil disaster? An item on CBC's The National last week told of an ad campaign in the US aimed at US tourists planning to visit Alberta. “Don't go,” the ad tells them, because in addition to the beautiful vistas of rolling foothills with cattle, cowboys and wildlife, Alberta has its ugly side: the tar sands, complete with polluted tailing ponds and other contaminated water, increased cancer for aboriginal groups living in the area, and the utter devastation of a piece of land the size of the state of Michigan. Carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere is through the roof. And as this massive extraction of oil from the oil sands continues, does anyone really know what our “broken well” will be?

The campaign consists of a video and a series of billboards going up in many places. The hope is that if tourists boycott Alberta, the Alberta and Canadian government can be pressured into doing something to reduce the pollution resulting from this massive oil extraction enterprise.

Premier Ed Stelmach appeared on radio and TV soon after arguing that pollution was not that bad, that the risks are not that great, and Alberta is doing a great job in reducing both pollution and risk. I wonder why he does that. Why doesn't he just tell it as it is: consuming oil is hard on the environment! If we all want to continue to consume oil at our current rate, there is an environmental price to pay.

It wasn't always that way. There was a time when oil was easy to get. The wells were shallow, and the environmental impact was minimal. But that oil is long gone. We consumed that oil years ago. The only oil left is oil that is hard to get at, whether it is under the Gulf of Mexico, tied up with sand in Alberta or under the control of unstable governments in the middle east.

There is only one way to preserve our environment: consume fewer resources.

Are we ready to send a message to our politicians that we are willing to pay the price of preserving the beauty of our planet for our children and grandchildren, even if it means much higher fuel costs – even if it means having to give up our beloved cars and the luxury of fresh lettuce in February?