Friday, August 05, 2011

Never Trust a Junkie...or a Pusher

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There is a scene from the movie Sid & Nancy, where Nancy Spungen, played flawlessly by Chloe Webb, is outside leaning against a brick wall in tears, upset after having had a drink thrown in her face at the pub by some fucker who ripped her off for 50 quid. She turns to Sid, who has followed her there from the pub trying to offer comfort, and confides, "Never trust a junkie". One could also add to that, “Never trust a pusher”.

The Alberta government is just such a pusher. They, along with their partners in crime, the federal Tories (and many Liberals I might add) and the multinational oil and gas companies, want to build yet another pipeline vein into the American arm and fill it not with heroin but with bitumen, a dirty, ultra-heavy, viscous hydrocarbon, in order to keep the junkie hooked.

I would not hesitate to say that oil, in all it's forms and methods of extraction and combustion, is responsible for much more suffering and far more deaths than heroin is. And to be sure, no one in their right mind would ever defend heroin abuse.

But the Alberta and Canadian governments time and again are on the side of industry, defending the exploitation of bitumen. Touting and praising the benefits of this dirty oil to keep the user using.

Often they will downplay or outright deny any science that runs counter to what they choose to believe about the harm caused by bitumen extraction and transport. Of course they would say that. There is a lot of money at stake for them.

The pusher and his business customer, the junkie, who is too fucked up to make rational decisions, will do anything they can to keep the drug going. They will lie, cheat and steal, and come up with all sorts of justifications for why they need the drug.

In Canada, these justifications for the oil drug invariably involve those two heroes of capitalism, jobs and the economy.

Can you imagine anything more ridiculous than someone who defends heroin abuse by saying that it keeps many people employed (the growers, those who ship it, those who sell it, etc.) therefore it is good for the economy and good for us? And the reason we would find it so absurd is because we are aware of the harmful effects of heroin addiction.

Here we see that the pushers, the ones who have the most to gain and of course the most to lose, cannot be trusted to tell us the truth about their drug.

When highly respected and reputable scientists like University of Alberta Professor, Dr. David Schindler, or Treeline Environmental Research Ecologist, Dr. Kevin Timoney, et al., have illustrated irrefutable evidence on the detrimental effects of the tar sands on water quality and quantity, wildlife, the environment, and public health, one would reasonably expect that rational human beings when confronted with such data would take a step back and say, “Gee, we better change what we’re doing in order to minimize the harm caused”.

Then laws may be implemented in order to facilitate the lifestyle changes that need to take place, to see to it that individuals and society are kept safe and healthy.

That’s what reasonable people would do. But those in the Alberta government (I'm specifically looking at you Rob Renner, dishonourable Minister of the Environment) take a different approach. They scoff at facts and manufacture lies in order to keep the drug flow of oil moving.

They pretend there is controversy in the evidence where in fact, none exists. If you keep the drug user confused or withhold information from him, he will continue on his merry way of stupefied oblivion and buy your junk.

Usually the truth sets you free, but only if you act on the knowledge you have gained. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. True. But is the horse just being obstinate, or have you led him to drink from Syncrude’s tailings pond? Perhaps if we all had to drink the foul effluvium that leaks from these dozen or so pools into the Athabasca River (some estimates put it at 67 litres/second from just one pond) we would all be more inclined to act.

Just as surely as heroin addiction figured prominently in the deaths of Sid and Nancy, our addiction to oil, where we are now literally scraping the dirtiest, most foul part of the needle to get every last drop out of it, will spell the end of us. And in the process, we will be dragging countless other innocent creatures along with us to our grave.

It doesn't have to be this way. We could be creating healthier societies based upon cleaner, renewable and more sustainable energy sources. Wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen, are just a few examples just waiting to be fully tapped, if only we would show the will and the desire to make it happen.

Most importantly, whatever form the future takes in how we choose to harness energy, reducing our consumption must play a key role in protecting our environment and maintaining any sort of balance with nature.

The American physicist, Professor Albert Bartlett, has summed the problem up this way:
We must realize that growth is but an adolescent phase of life which stops when physical maturity is reached. If growth continues in the period of maturity it is called obesity or cancer. Prescribing growth as the cure for the energy crisis has all the logic of prescribing increasing quantities of food as a remedy for obesity.
But, to quote another line from Sid & Nancy, as long as we’re addicts…we’ll be full of shit!

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