It’s been an intense few weeks. I actually had to go back and recount my last post, just to figure out how to begin.
Our five courses are arranged in blocks, with one class studied intensively at a time. This first block is now, suddenly, coming to its close. I can say, confidently, that my knowledge of the History & Politics of Resource Management within Canada is newly brimming with examples and case studies – all of which are painfully evident of how we’re really fucking things up.
What’s more, is that we are all so guilty in our own complacency. We’ve been allowing ourselves to live off these natural resources (forestry, oil & gas, water, etc.) without contributing nearly anything back, and without even taking the time to closely study the environments they come from! I thought that I knew it was bad, but I really had no idea.
Biology doesn’t work in a closed system, we already know this. Energy must be put back in cyclically, in order to maintain homeostasis. In a universe of infinite possibilities, a method of sustainability has to exist, but we are definitely not there today, nor will we be if we destroy these areas before we truly understand them.
A lot of Quebec’s Boreal Forest, for example, looks like this:
Image courtesy of Greenpeace Canada
Forestry wouldn’t be this problematic if we’d only taken the time to learn how to harvest sustainably before clearing fields. Instead, companies apply their own share-holder pleasing environmental epistemology (read: bad, biased science). As witnessed by forest workers who live in the field, the clearcutting of sections, like this one, only exposes the rest of the forest to winds and weather, changes crucial drainage factors, and generally just screws up a lot of natural rhythms. Not so good.
And sure, treeplanters come in and do their best to recreate biological diversity, but the fact of the matter is that these trees do not grow back in the ratios which support life as it had previously existed – not even close. Trees are often mono or dual-cultured, are all of the same age at planting, and are planted in straight lines for easier counting. This approach encourages the growth of pests like the spruce budworm, which in turn spurs pesticide use, further contaminating the natural environment.
It’s important now to note the definition of ‘natural’ in this context. It might be easier to give the definition of unnatural: synthesized materials and substances that humans have isolated, which exist in their states here solely because of us, some of which can be destructive when applied in natural areas (think chemicals, like DDT). An unnatural thing can exist in a natural place.
In a modern arguement, someone inevitably want facts, and figures – something empirical on which to base a conclusion. They demand extensive studies, cited evidence and mapped statistics. Not to say that these things are always unnecessary, but we are losing our motivation to revolt out of passion alone, because that’s just not good enough anymore. It’s a letting go – even an invalidation – of our collective intuitions, and we are ceasing to pay attention when they strike us enmasse.
And that is sad.
We barely take the time to understand each other’s motivations, but we could if we let ourselves learn to. Once you empathize, you understand even your enemies, because now you’ve been there too. Have compassion for the people in power who are greedy enough to exploit these resources without education, for their greatest loss is something they don’t even understand.
I can tell you that being here, in Haida Gwaii, is giving me a chance to consider all of this at a primary source.
When you stand next to the stump of a tree that had lived a thousand years before you were born, and you know that it was cut down to be mindlessly exported to China, something doesn’t feel right. I don’t know the chemicals that enact this sensation, but I know that it makes you feel ill – and it makes me feel like we need to get our shit together.
Alright, so there likely won’t be another blog post until after this week, as I’ve got quite a bit of writing to do for this last portion of class. We have the end of this week off, and I’m really hoping to get some camping in!
Thank you for listening.
I hope you see the value in this politico-philosophical eruption, and find a part of your natural environment that you can be as passionate about. You’d do the world a lot of good.