Alberta Oil Sands
Here’s the situation. Two rural neighbors live in a small town, one up
river, and one downstream just where the river meanders into a lovely valley.
They're friendly, went to the same schools as kids, and have always exchanged
kind words; in fact, they share a special bond, for both men have always
rooted for the Maple Leafs, which gives them a few weeks to commiserate
every spring when the Leafs fall early in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Sorry
The first man, living upstream, is a good guy. He and his wife have raised a great family. He pays his taxes, employs a handful of people from the village, attends church every Sunday, and gives generously to several charities. But every day, he walks down to the river abutting his property and pours a few hundred gallons of a harmful chemical from his business downstream. He doesn’t mean for it to happen, but over several years, the chemical leaches into the well water of a few nearby homes.
His old Maple Leafs friend is particularly hard hit. He runs a small ranch, and loses half his cattle to illness one year. A few months later, he's inexplicably suffering from migraines and nausea, and can't do more than a few hours of work each day. His daughter, who is asthmatic, now has to take medication to keep breathing freely, and she's had two scary trips to the Emergency Department. And now his wife has breast cancer, and needs surgery.
Finally, the authorities investigate and trace some of the problems to
his neighbor. He is told to stop pouring chemicals into the river.
The guy refuses. After all, it's his property. Surely he has the right to dispose of chemicals on his own land, if he choses. Hauling the toxins away for safe disposal will cut his profits by half, take time away from important chores, and during the winter, it gets pretty darn cold outside. If what he's doing is harmful, then let the government clean it up. After all, isn't that why he pays taxes?
Stripped of all its emotional value, this problem has a simple solution. The first man is behaving irresponsibly, and must show more consideration for his neighbor’s well-being. Under no circumstances should he should be allowed to pollute the water supply and make people sick in the process.
This parable has a modern corollary being played out every day in Canada. Simply put, Alberta is home to what The Environmental Defence Fund calls The Most Destructive Project on Earth (PDF). The Alberta Tar Sands.
Campaign # 1: The Red Letter Campaign
Campaign # 2: Canada's Sorry Environmental Record
Campaign #3: Slow the Tar Sands
Campaign # 4: Old King Coal (Coming Soon)
Campaign # 5: One Voice (Coming Soon)
The Global Warming Denial Campaign