Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics – A Book You Cannot Afford To Ignore

Review by David Skelhon

Every now and then, a really trans-formative book comes along – one that challenges beliefs and opens readers to new ideas. Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein is one of those books.

Charles Eisenstein explains that we are experiencing the death throws of an economic system that has brought us some great benefits but at terrible cost. Many of us have been born into this system and know no other. We have been taught a story about money which we have unconsciously internalised without questioning its ethics or consequences.

One result of adopting this story is the need for endless growth originating from a money system that is based on debt and interest. It is a system that breeds artificial scarcity, because to put it simply, there is never enough money in the system to repay the interest on the cumulative debt.

It is a system that can only seem to work if there is economic growth and that ultimately entails the conversion of more and more “gifts” from the Earth – the sacred commonwealth of all humans and indeed all life – into private and corporate ownership for profit. When growth slows, the system collapses, because all the debt can never be repaid – there is never enough money in the system to allow for that, so there will always be losers. It also leads to a “more for you is less for me” culture.

Eisenstein also talks about the innate and insatiable human tendency to hoard money, rather than allow it to flow freely. This is being brought sharply into focus as the divide between rich and poor deepens and the ultimate outcome is exploitation, environmental degradation, war and human misery. He postulates what would happen if we went to a system of zero or negative interest. This actually is not a new concept and has sound roots in history and other cultures, and may form part of the solution.

The author makes it clear that he does not think that money is the root of all evil, rather the problem is in the way we have chosen to use it – the story we have taught ourselves – that is responsible for the misery we are creating. Money plays a vital and necessary role in the complex human interactions of the modern world but he believes we need to change that story.

Certainly, conspiracy theorists my be disappointed by this book because Eisenstein – whilst he acknowledges that they may have some basis and bad things do happen out there – realises that much good energy can be wasted pursuing them. Rather, he encourages the reader to look at things that can be done at the local level to facilitate a return to a kinder, more gift based system where the sacred gifts of the Earth – our birthrights – are respected.

The author is under no illusion that these changes are going to happen overnight, and there possibly will be years of pain before we put our house in order, but the real magic of the book is that it leaves the reader with the impression that these changes must and will happen. Indeed, the process is already underway and ultimately our very survival depends on it.

Sacred Economics is not a cold, factual, academic work – it is non-the-less well researched and referenced. Its real power comes from Eisenstein’s from-the-heart honesty. I found that it resonated with me and more importantly, challenged me at the same time, exposing long held beliefs about money and wealth that I discovered I could well do without. Its twenty-four chapters are not light reading but I consider the concepts so important that I have no doubt I will be dipping back into it again and again.

I will leave the last words to Eisenstein; “A primary goal of this book is to align the logic of the mind with the knowing of the heart: to illuminate not only what is possible but how to get there.”

The book is available in paperback or as an eBook  In keeping with the author’s philosophy, it can also be read on-line for free.

Talking To An Alien

The air was electric and there was a foul buzzing in my head. The last thing I remember about being upright was that my feet decided that they wanted to follow their own separate paths at which point the voice in my head uttered. “Oh my God!”

Blackness comes, the world spins beneath my feet and next thing my bones are bouncing off the dusty gravel, and with a loud ‘huff’, the air is blown from my lungs.

Blackness everywhere and an overwhelming silence but for the whooshing of blood through my head.

Then comes an irritating, chirpy voice – not the sort of voice you want to hear in a time of bodily crises.

“You’re OK – just stay calm. The electromagnetic field from my ship just happened to spike your central nervous system creating what you humans would call a seizure. Really, really sorry about that!”

Is this for real? Am I actually still alive? I try to move but my limbs appear to be disconnected from my motor centre. “Hell I’m paralysed!”

“Nope, just stunned. Just relax and normal service will be resumed in err…a few minutes.”

“Very pleased to hear it! So what the hell is going on? I’m out for a walk in the park and suddenly I feel that I have been hit over the head with a baseball bat!”

“Yep, just the field from my ship and as I said, you’ll get over it.”

I am starting to feel sensations cutting in, pain in my left wrist, the texture of moist sand and gravel on my bare arms and legs, and what feels like gritty sand in my mouth and nose.

The blackness dissolves and a light appears in my head, gradually brightening to a dazzle. My brain forces my eyelids to part, and before me, just above the dirt I see withered brown blades of grass against a blue sky embedded with fluffy clouds. But wait, camouflaged against the grass, six inches from my eyes, there’s a stick-like insect looking straight at me. From my new level of humility it seems like a terrifying apparition – but is it? It looks too darn real!

“Good, you’re starting to recover. Thankfully I didn’t kill you because that would be really bad karma.”

Now I’m beginning to think my brain is as bruised as my body. “You’re hallucinating you idiot!” I try to get up, but my mind still isn’t connected to my body.

“Just a few more minutes and you’ll be on your way!”

Oh God, its lips…err mouth parts, are moving and those tear shaped eyes are looking straight at me…almost looks like a miniature ‘grey’.

“I’m no grey! Don’t insult my intelligence!”

Oh God he can read my mind! “Sorry, this is all very new to me and I’m having a really hard time believing what I’m seeing.”

“That’s somewhat surprising, as I was under the impression that humans lost their abilities to discern fact from fiction a long time ago and believe pretty well all that they see or hear!”

“What or who the hell are you anyway?”

“Let’s keep it simple and just call me ‘John’ and imagine I’m from a distant star system where evolution has taken a somewhat different path. I’m actually here on vacation – what you humans would probably call adventure tourism but on a galactic scale.”

“OK John, so what brings you to this God forsaken planet!”

“Oh please don’t ever call this planet God forsaken…it’s very upsetting to hear that.

“Look, Earth is actually one of the jewels in the crown of this galaxy so to speak…the unadulterated parts are still incredibly beautiful! I just want to come back and see it again whilst there is something left to see, before it possibly gets completely screwed up. Oh dear, lets see…excuse me for being corny but that catchy song from your youth that passed me 30 light years out puts it very succinctly…’Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, pave paradise and put up a parking lot’.

“As a matter of a fact, do you ever wonder why there are all these ‘ships’ visiting Earth at the moment? Some like me found out about Earth on the Cosmonet, the Lonely Star Guide to be exact and just like me they are here to soak up this wonderful, complex manifestation of the Creator.

“That said, there are also a lot of looky-lous hanging out here, and to be frank, some pretty nasty entities just thirsting for blood.”

“What exactly do you mean by nasty entities?”

“Well take a look around you, all these wars, environmental pillage, malnutrition, starvation and the extinction of countless species. Do you really think man could wreak all this havoc on his own? Humanity isn’t necessarily evil, but he can make decisions that are evil then turn a blind eye to the consequences. Has it ever occurred to you that there are evil entities from another dimension that egg you on?”

“Now you are asking me to suspend my critical thinking to believe something I can’t see, to take a blind leap of faith! Why should I believe you?”

“Do you believe that the atom is a building block of matter? “

“Yes, of course I do!”

“Have you ever seen an atom?”

“No but it’s been proven a long time ago, and that’s the best explanation for how the world works!”

“My point exactly, although I do have an advantage over you in that I can see the workings of some other dimensions and regrettably they aren’t always pretty. But that’s the nature of the duality of consciousness, the Yin and the Yang as you call it, the light and the dark, good and evil. Actually it’s what makes us grow, it keeps us on our toes and makes life an adventure! It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe that evil entities exist and try to manipulate this dimension; suffice to say that humans are in the driving seat and they always can say no to evil.”

“So I guess you think we are screwing it up, causing all this global warming and pollution?”

“Look, you can warm the planet to a small degree with carbon dioxide but on a cosmic scale it’s like pissing into the solar wind. You have no idea what Sun is capable of, Sun has been around billions of years and you have been watching Sun for an insignificantly irrelevant 60 of them – so you really don’t know anything.”

“What do you actually mean by Sun?”

“You just haven’t grasped it have you? Your ancestors were smart! They revered Sun! Sun has consciousness like any other star, because you do know all matter is a manifestation of intelligent consciousness, just like you or I, don’t you?”

“So are you actually saying the Sun is a conscious being?”

“Well, sort of, but a proper understanding is still some way ahead of humanity, but any way you look at Sun, Sun gives you life. Sun, as far as you are concerned, is the Light. Your Bible talks of the Sun Of God, and man’s purpose on Earth, all major religions would probably agree, is to gain enlightenment. Get it! All you need to know always is and has been hidden in plain view. It’s embedded in your languages, myths, artifacts and sacred sites. Just bare in mind that some heads of consciousness are smarter than others!

“Look, I’ve some good advice for you. Forget what you learnt about history at school or what most mainstream religion tells you. A lot of it is just plain wrong and sadly some of it deliberately misleading. The idea that man went from cave man to astronaut in 40,000 some years is ridiculous. Sure, there has been a linear progression of what you know as civilisation but that’s not the whole story. The Earth is subjected to cyclical variations of life-force energies, cosmic catastrophes and just plain human stupidity. Think of civilisation as a slow linear progression modulated by a more rapid cyclical pattern. Great civilisations on Earth, come and go, roughly in synchronisation with the Earth’s 25,000 year precessional wobble. Your science hasn’t yet figured out the cosmic causal mechanism but if you stick around long enough you will.”

“You mentioned you were here before – when was that?”

“The last time I was here was 14,000 Earth years ago, just before the last ice age came to a catastrophic end, and with it the last Golden Age of Man. Back then, most of the northern lands were covered with miles of ice, and the sea levels were about 600 feet lower then they are today, revealing vast areas of the continental shelves. The climate was actually quite stable and your ancestors were primarily a coastal, seafaring people living incredibly rich and fulfilling lives.”

“So what happened to them?”

“Well, I was long gone, but according to the Lonely Star Guide, the Earth started to warm and the ice sheets began to melt, flooding the lower lands as the sea level began to rise.”

“If these Golden Age humans were so smart why didn’t they just move to higher ground?”

“Unfortunately for them, they were hit by a double whammy, just as things were starting to get a little toasty on Earth a comet exploded above what you call North America, obliterating lots of life and filling the atmosphere with dust which blocked out Sun. Things chilled instantly and the ice came back for another 1,000 years – your scientists call it the Younger Dryas period. If you think current climate change is rapid, I can assure you that you haven’t seen anything like what happened back then! That’s why woolly mammoths, sabre toothed tigers and other large mammals became extinct – and man almost met the same fate.

“When the Earth warmed again, any remnants of civilisation disappeared beneath the oceans – sometimes whole cities were inundated in a matter of days as ice dams broke releasing huge freshwater lakes into the oceans. That’s why you don’t see much evidence on land today. If you looked under the oceans, it would be a whole different story.

“From then on it was all down hill, but having survived the bottom of the Great Cycle – what you call the Dark Ages – humanity is now on the upswing. Just take care you don’t screw it up. And there’s plenty of evidence if you look for it. The ancient Hindu scriptures, the fall of man in the Christian Bible – every ancient culture records distant catastrophes and falls from Golden Ages.”

“But aren’t they just myths from superstitious God-fearing, primitive peoples? Where is the solid evidence?”

“Some of the evidence is very solid indeed. It is set in stone! Do you really believe that monuments like the pyramids at Giza were built by slaves using copper chisels? You could hardly achieve that accuracy and perfection today – even with all your modern tools and equipment. And there are pyramids all around the world, Peru, Mexico, China and they are encoded with mathematical messages and the builders were well aware of their global nature and significance.

“From your level it is impossible for you to understand how these spiritually advanced humans thought and lived their lives. They understood the underlying intelligence behind everything and their humble place in it. They built these huge stone structures, encoded with this information, so that one day, their spiritually impoverished descendents, languishing at the bottom of the Great Cycle, the Great Year, the Yuga Cycle, the Precession Of The Equinoxes – call it what you will depending on your culture – might regain some of this lost knowledge and take it forward into the next cycle. And remember that many of these structures were built after the Golden Age, in a time when much knowledge had already been lost!”

“So how come these Golden Age humans were so smart?”

“Ah! Good question! Again, I’ll have to keep it simple. Suffice to say that they had access to levels of consciousness inaccessible to all but a few humans today. Physically they were similar to you but spiritually, they operated at a level which you would consider God like. Indeed they were the Gods!”

“So tell me John, just how are we going to get ourselves out of the mess we are in and regain our heritage?”

“I see it’s already happening. Technology, and in particular your internet is spreading ideas – not all of them good I might add! You need to re-learn the lost art of critical thinking. But corrupt institutions will crumble as age-old weapons of mass deception are revealed, along with the evil intent of those behind them. When that happens, the mental and spiritual shackles will be off and the hard path to enlightenment can continue.

“Anyway, that’s enough – I shouldn’t give too much away, that would make it too easy and besides there’s lots of fun to be had in the search for the ‘Holy Grail’ so to speak. It’s more about the journey than the destination!”

“Oh please don’t stop – this is getting really, really interesting and I still have lots of questions!”

“Nope, I should be on my way, before some hill-billy spots my ship and nails it to his garden fence thinking it’s just another Chevy wheel trim.

“But just a final few words of advice; never believe all your mind tells you – it lies constantly. Once you have figured that out you’re half way to enlightenment. And remember, there are dark forces out there often masquerading as the Light. Learn to recognize them and give ‘em the middle finger, so to speak!

“Oh…and remember to give thanks to Sun and be grateful you are on this beautiful planet having the wildest ride of your dreams.”

My eyelids are becoming very, very heavy and the light fades. “John! Are you still there?”

Silence but for the pounding of blood in my ears.

Suddenly, I feel a strong hand shake my shoulder. A mans voice, full of concern, asks: “Are you OK? You took quite a tumble! I saw you trip and fall flat on your face. Let’s see if we can get you back on your feet.”

Copyright David Skelhon, 2012

So Just How Smart Are They?

This article was first published 6 years ago in my regular column in the Vernon Edition of The Daily Courier. Sadly, Charlie is no longer with us, having died at the grand age of 14. He did, however, in his final years, manage to pass on some of his “wisdom” to “Yo”, our present canine family member.

Charlie figured out how to pull our emotional strings!

We’ve got it all wrong! We have not domesticated our canine companions – they have domesticated us! Think about it. Who works the extra hours to earn the hard cash that buys the kibbles we put in their bowls? Who rushes home so that we can take Fido for a walk? Who covers their vet bills? So just how smart are they?

Dogs have been a part of my family life since childhood. I’ve learnt that some of them are smart, whilst others, as in human populations, may be one brick short of a full load. Their smartness may not have human qualities, but in their own, down to the necessities of life way, they can be very smart. It has been said that a dog has the intellectual abilities of a 3 year old child and the emotional development of a teenager – I find that accurate. I don’t know whether our Portuguese Water Dog, “Charlie”, actually thinks but his actions lead my wife and I to believe he is smart when it comes to getting what he wants.

For instance, we are constantly organising our lives around Charlie’s schedule, putting his well being and happiness first. The interesting thing is that he is so responsive to that sort of attention. With a little careful study, we have discovered his body language speaks volumes about his feelings. We get silent feed back – most of it is positive, which gives us a warm fuzzy feeling that encourages us to indulge him further.

For instance, I take simple pleasure in watching Charlie do the things he loves – such as eating sardines, his favourite food. He will first eat the less interesting stuff, leaving the smelly fish until last. After he has savoured the last morsel he will prance joyfully around the house, running rings around us, tail gyrating wildly, licking his lips and giving ecstatic sneezes. Of course, we encourage him; “Sardines Charlie! Wasn’t that good!” He will run his muzzle along any soft furniture to wipe off the remnants. Spreading the odour of tinned sardines around the house is, perhaps, his way of letting us know just how yummy they were. Or maybe, he figures, if the odour lingers long enough, I might remember to give him sardines again tomorrow.

He loves walking with me as much as I with him. It brings us both health and vitality, and we both make lots of new friends. Charlie is smart because he uses positive feed back to get more of what he wants. Some humans have yet to learn that trick.

Charlie is not perfect and his main vice is counter “surfing”. Several times I have removed a fresh loaf from the bread maker and left it to cool on the counter. The door bell or phone rings and when I return to the kitchen a minute later I find Charlie licking the last remaining crumbs from the metal paddle that was seconds earlier inside the warm bread. He definitely knows what coming next but always gives me that “Ok, but it was worth it” look as he dashes for the door.

We have also learned never to leave a plate unattended – even for a few seconds, for Charlie will sneak over and start removing the contents. And he is smart about it too; he will carefully remove the tastiest morsels leaving the cutlery undisturbed on the plate. If we’re away long enough, the plate will be dishwasher clean and I’m left scratching my head, wondering whether we have already eaten or have yet to serve up. He really has this figured out because we rarely catch him in the act even if there is still food left on the plate. When he hears us coming he slinks off and parks himself on his favourite piece of furniture, gazing into the doggy distance and pretending nothing has happened. Maybe, in that canine brain, he realises that Mommy and Daddy’s dinners are sacred and he better not get caught taking them!

Charlie is special, because unlike previous dogs I have known, he has taught me new respect for the animal kingdom. We are, after all, animals ourselves, although arrogance tends to put us above other species. We experience the same basic emotions as our canine companions and these cross the species gap in both directions. In our fast moving, technological world, this has helped us establish a healing connection with nature. No wonder pets are good for our mental and physical health.

Our relationship with our canine companions is evolving. In our modern world few dogs truly work for a living in the traditional sense. They are, instead, becoming our valued companions and healers. They do not have to worry where their next meal is coming from or who will look after them when they grow old. They just have to express spontaneous joy and unconditional love in exchange for all their needs. Now that’s smart!

For more of my canine images

Why do all the work when there’s a gullible human willing to do for you!

Man Over Board!

Putting on a Personal Flotation Device should be as automatic as fastening a seat belt in a car. Here’s why!

Wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or a life jacket is important even on a good day.

Summer is here and many of us love messing about in boats. Do you wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when you are on the water, even when it’s flat calm, or you are just making a short trip from the dock? Maybe you are strong swimmer and don’t see the need? If you are one of the many people who don’t then this true story might make you pause and think, because accidents are, by their very nature, unforeseen and unpredictable.

After several years of living on a sailboat, I must admit I had become quite blasé about water safety. Then one day, about 20 years ago, three of us could have died, and only a bizarre second “accident” prevented a tragedy. Here is the story and some of the lessons learnt.

It was a beautiful, late spring day and I was sailing along the UK’s south-west coast. A light breeze was blowing as I dropped anchor off the sleepy Cornish village of Cawsands. I was about 500 meters from the beach which, at this time of year, was only lightly populated with tourists. The only other boat in the area was a small sailboat, about 15 feet in length and crewed by a man and a child.

I was preoccupied with setting the anchor when I heard a distant splash. It was obviously a little more significant than a fish jumping from the water and it distracted me enough to look up. I was alarmed to see that the little sailboat, about 200 metres distant, now only had one occupant, a small child, who sat perfectly still at the rear of the boat, which was still moving under sail.

When I saw an arm rise from the water, some distance behind the boat, then disappear again below the waves the shocking reality of the situation I was becoming involved in started to sink in. Figuring that it would take too long to pull up the anchor and get underway, I threw my very small, inflatable tender over the side of my boat, grabbed a paddle and headed towards a struggling figure in the water.

As I headed towards him, I noticed that the sailboat, its sails full in the light breeze, was starting to turn out to sea. As it passed nearby I realised that its traumatised occupant was probably only 4 or 5 years old. “Do you know how to steer?” I shouted. No response came – he was frozen with fear and I was concerned that a gust of wind could capsize his boat at any moment. There was no way I could paddle fast enough to catch up with him so I concentrated a reaching the swimmer, who unlike the child, was not wearing a PFD and was clearly in considerable difficulty. At least, I thought, somebody ashore must have seen what happened and initiated a rescue.

After an exhausting few minutes of paddling I pulled alongside the man in the water. He was a big man, very overweight, exhausted and frightened. I could see blood in the water from a gash in his side. His knuckles whitened as his stiff hands gripped the line that ran alongside my little inflatable. I realised that pulling him aboard was going to be impossible, as he was already too weak to assist. A combination of shock and hypothermia in the cold Atlantic waters were taking hold. “OK, I want you to hold on and I’m going to paddle us ashore,”I said realising at the same time I was being very optimistic as wind and tide where conspiring to push us further out to sea. He was too exhausted to answer but made a feeble attempt to pull himself out of the water. I instinctively reached out to help him and tried in vain to heave him aboard, but I became alarmed as the tender started to buckle under the load, leading to a situation that could quite easily end up with both of us in the water.

At this point, a bizarre piece of luck occurred which probably saved lives. In the struggle with the swimmer I had lost track of the sailboat, which thanks to mother nature and some random sail settings, had come around in a wide circle and was now moving at a brisk pace and on collision course with us. The first I knew about it was when my tender was stuck with a dull thud from behind, nearly catapulting me into the water. Somehow in the confusion I managed to grab hold of the sailboat’s rigging and hold on for dear life. It turned out to be our salvation, as I managed to clamber on board, find some rope and put it around the man in the water. It was still impossible to pull him aboard so I set sail for the beach, dragging him and my inflatable alongside us.

As we approached the shore, the young boy sat opposite me, shaking and speechless, tears rolling down his cheeks. Looking towards the village the realisation dawned on me that the frantic running about and launching of boats I had expected to see just wasn’t happening. Life was going on totally oblivious to the drama on the water.

As I later paddled back to my boat, I patted myself on the back for a job well done with one hand, and hit myself over the head with the other for not wearing a PFD myself. Putting on a PFD should be as automatic as fastening a seat belt in a car. Remember, being a great swimmer isn’t any help if you are injured or knocked unconscious during a fall overboard – only a PFD is likely to save you!

There were other lessons to be learnt too.

  • Two or more adults should be available when taking young children onto the water.
  • Have flares or other signalling devices readily at hand and know how to use them. Looking back, if I had taken 30 seconds to fire off a flare or sound the horn before jumping into the tender, I would have alerted people ashore and made a successful outcome more certain.
  •  Understand that if some one falls overboard you may not be able to get them back on board easily. This is where a floating line, lifebuoys, and boarding ladders become important together with a predetermined plan that everyone on board understands.
  •  Briefing your crew about the location and operation of safety devices, as well as man overboard procedures, is an essential responsibility of the skipper. Putting it off because it “might alarm the crew” or set a sombre tone is misguided. Ultimately, remember, it may be the skipper who needs rescuing!

Resource Extraction In Western Canada – Should We Should Say No To Enbridge?

Placer mining, in this case for Yukon gold, destroys river valleys and in this cold northern climate, recovery is slow.

British Columbia has been my home for 15 years and I have been privileged to see more of it than most Canadians ever will. I have flown, driven and sailed Western Canada but still have barely scratched the surface.

Before I left the United Kingdom in 1996, I got to know parts of my homeland particularly well, having co-authored four regional guidebooks. It just isn’t possible to have this intimate level of contact with the Canadian landscape – it’s just too vast. I wasn’t born and raised here and I found of the land intimidating, and at times, downright scary. I was more used to the gentleness of the British countryside.

What has surprised me is that despite its vastness and sparse population, little of what I have seen of the Canadian landscape remains truly untouched wilderness. Certainly from the aerial perspective, resource extraction and exploration dominates huge areas, even if it isn’t currently active. I recently spent summers working in the Yukon flying surveys and fire patrol as well as transporting miners in and out of Klondike gold mines. The land south of the Klondike is riddled with evidence of active mining, predominantly for precious metals. Many river bottoms have been turned over in the frantic search for gold, and machinery abandoned one hundred years ago can often be found rotting and rusting in the bush. Even further north, seismic lines criss-cross vast areas, indicating an interest in the ground below. In the short Arctic growing season, these scars are slow to heal. That said, keep in mind that my work generally has taken me to areas that have seen human activity so my perspective is somewhat biased.

British Columbia is mined as well as extensively logged. Much of this happens in areas remote from habitation and, again, is best seen from the air when trying to appreciate the scale of activity. Statistics are useful and they tell part of the story but there’s nothing like getting close up and forming your own opinion, and I have acquired an appreciation of the scale of operations from snooping around. My photographs are for those unable to see for themselves and gain a sense of the scale. Of course, this is my perspective shot and edited to make a particular point. And that point is, that in 100 years, we have removed huge tracts of forest. We’re gone from handsaws and horses the highly mechanized and sophisticated harvesting techniques – in the same way that farmers on the prairies have gone from scythes and horse-drawn hay wagons to huge combine harvesters.

Clear cut areas show up well during winter. These are east of Kelowna in BC’s Southern Interior.

In the last three years I have visited some 20 lumber mills and at least a dozen mines, including Yukon gold mines and BC copper mines. I’ve also seen the oil sands from the air and spent many winter nights in the tar sands capital, Fort McMurray. Please take a look at the piles trees ready for processing of lumber mills – some of them boggle the mind.

Just one small part of a vast stockpile of lumber awaiting processing at a mill in Williams Lake, BC.

You might not be able to fly a small plane over Western Canada but you can do the next best thing. Go to Google Maps and take virtual flight across Canada – or for that matter any part of the planet. It’s a great way get a sense of scale. But that only gives part of the story. The tar sands, for instance, currently occupy a small fraction of the land in Alberta (surprisingly small considering their media coverage), but they are adjacent to the Athabasca River which has the potential to spread pollutants as far as the Arctic Ocean.

The effects of logging and mining are like a dripping tap. They are generally involve slow paced environmental degradation and unless it’s in your back yard, most of us tolerate and accept that it’s what’s necessary to make the world go around.

Let’s get back to Enbridge as here the stakes are a lot higher and we may not just be dealing with dripping taps. We could in fact be dealing with gushing mains. The company will endeavor to sell us a rosy story of jobs and money flowing into government coffers. I’ve no doubt the oil industry told the same story to the residents of the Gulf of Mexico, or for that matter, the nuclear industry to the Japanese people before they built Fukushima. We will be living with the consequences of these catastrophes for a very long time – thousands of years in the case of Fukushima.

I would like to think that champions of the Enbridge pipeline are just ignorant of the potential for catastrophe. In any rate, ignorance is no excuse for gambling with peoples lives and livelihoods, especially when the gamble extends into future generations. Those involved rarely come from the land they are exploiting and as soon as the money dries up will disappear in a heartbeat. Let’s face it, jobs are temporary, and bright minds and willing hands can be better employed creating a sustainable future.

Right now, we need oil to function, but it’s days as a primary energy source are coming to an end. By necessity or perhaps choice we will make do with less and we will eventually learn to exploit exciting new energy technologies that are poised to transform our world.

This is just my opinion and I’ll be the first to admit that deciding when enough is enough is tough. Ultimately, we are dependent on those very resources to get out there and even take a look at what we are doing. Our planes, boats and cars need those resources in their construction and operation. It’s a subjective decision but I believe when your heart aches over what you see first hand, then let that be your guide.

Despite the industrialization of the landscape, we still live in one of the most beautiful and pristine corners of the planet. I hope we choose wisely and keep it that way.

See my Resource Industries in Western Canada Gallery.

We have some of the most wonderful scenery on the planet, let’s keep it that way.