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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Canary in a Coal Mine

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A year or so ago Eliza and I took a trip to Courtenay, which is up the coast on Vancouver Island. We do it often because her mom lives there. On that particular ferry over, is where I first read about some albino Ravens that have been living in Parksville since the 1970's. Okay not totally albino, they have blue eyes, but close enough for me, they're totally white. I really wanted to see an albino Raven, I love Crows, and Ravens are even more magical and full of lore and mystique. Their blackness is such a part of who they are, so a white one with blue eyes would be pretty incredible to see. We stopped but didn't really know where they were typically sighted, so I have yet to find them and lay my own eyes and lens upon them. You, like me will have to settle on this great shot by Ralph Hocken, and on these photos from the local paper.
     We got to Judy's and she mentioned that she had to attend a local meeting about a proposed coal mine in the Comox Valley. I thought maybe they were trying to figure out what to do with an old mine. There are all sorts of old mines around BC open for tourism, not for mining of course. We all know how dangerous mining is, how poison it is for the environment, that's what we learn on these guided tours. But what Judy said next really caught my attention. She said that a company wants to start mining coal out of the Comox valley watershed, from Parksville to Courtenay...
rare old growth,  each tree an eco system.

totem poles combine people and animals.
     They aren't using the coal in Canada, because we all know how harmful it is to burn coal. They plan on selling it to some other planet, called China. At least I assume it's another planet, because I am pretty sure that the China here on Earth has enough pollution problems, without adding to them, and also for the obvious reason that we share the same planet. If China is polluting, I am inhaling it and wiping it off of my bookcases, my pets lick it off their paws... Also, we live in BC! We are ahead of the environmental game here- oh... we're not? Oh. Okay, well someone else will stop it. It'll totally be stopped before they need my help.
precious and rare clean fresh water... we are all waterkeepers.
Ravens lives jeopardized by Raven Coal Mine.
      Okay so, it's been around a year since Judy first mentioned the coal mine. They are still talking about mining that coal! There are surveys and talks and all that bulls*&$t! They are going to sell the poisonous fossil fuel, to China- the country here on Earth! And that effects our entire planet- not just the obvious rape our precious watershed! There is an organized force trying to stop this from happening and, once again for some reason, the good guys need help to stop the bad guys from f*&*&ing us into an early extinction. This force is small, and they need everyone's help. I know, I still can hardly wrap my head around it. Ruin a watershed when the world is facing a clean water crisis? How is it legal to profit off of natural resources at such a rate of speed that nature can't even replenish itself?
     There is an excellent letter circulating around written about this proposed coal mine, it is by a wonderful and prolific Canadian writer named Anne Cameron. I will try to get her permission to post her open letter here.
     In this letter Anne Cameron speaks of the obvious ugly truths behind mining - and points out that there are not sufficient safety standards in place to protect the miners, not matter how much money they tempt the miners with. She knows from the past, that the land can not take the beating that mining gives it, the waters are poisoned and the earth perishes for hundreds of seasons, sometimes hundreds of years... because of the mess humans have caused taking things that are meant to be left alone.
     And we have history. We can benefit from prior knowledge. We have men who have worked in coal mines and earned that pay check -was it worth it? When the Chilean miners were trapped all those days that led into weeks, under there in the deep dark earth, was it worth it then? Okay, thank goodness they survived, but how many haven't? Did these Coal Companies see Margaret's Museum? Apparently not, and perhaps they should.And after the coal is mined, and sold to China to operate their pollution spewing industries, how does that NOT effect me? We know we can't burn the coal in Canada because it is BAD to burn coal... but somehow they can sell it? TO BURN?!
     The totem poles that were carved hundreds of years ago represent an obvious relationship between humans and animals. A linear free standing structure, each character depending on the other for support. I am not going say, we need to get that back. We have that coursing through our veins, too. We are being deprived of it by corporations and by our own governments because they profit off of the corporations. Look around you if you need proof that people care about nature.
poppy garden... on public property.
succulent garden with glass beads and paper weights...
     People all over the country/world are reclaiming property and planting sustainable gardens on that property. Vacant lots-in this case an unused railroad track that stretches for miles... turned into beautiful flower gardens and raised vegetable plots. It spreads across this city for everyone to enjoy. No one pilfers the flowers, property is respected, vegetables are not stolen. Some may be eaten by those who need it, but there is always a harvest for the gardener. People love and respect nature. Jammed into tiny apartments we need to get our hands dirty in clean dirt, and this is how we do it. In turn bees, birds and bugs can live and procreate and find a home in some sort of wilderness in the middle of a busy city.

public garden on unused railroad tracks...
Cosmos in a public Garden
I think this is a pretty clear indication that people respect the land and love and worship nature. I think the majority of us do not want a coal mine to go in and rip through some of the most beautiful nature the world has left. Home to a rare albino Raven. Home to Bald Eagles, deer, wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars and every species of bird the province has to offer, about 119 in all. I am pretty sure that no one wants China to continue to burn coal, and that selling China coal to burn is total bulls*^t and quite simply stupid. I am sure that basically the ones raping the land for profit have not heard, clearly from nice folks like us, that this isn't going to happen, because money just isn't enough of an excuse anymore. We actually can't live with no water and no air, so money isn't all that huge of an incentive anymore.
     Yes, money may buy elite billionaire you and your family a seat on a spaceship that can grow vegetables, heck money might even buy you a ticket to another planet. But there are a bunch of us who love earth. We love the blue skies, we love drinking water from a stream on a hike - okay we loved that ten years ago, now we love the thought of doing that again, so you see where I am going with this...we are the fun ones that the rich ones need so they can dream about who they want to be. Me, who walks my dogs each day and feeds the birds from my the palm of my hand... I am living the dream that money can't buy. There's plenty to go around, too.
     We need to stop a coal mine folks. We need to stop it dead from ever happening in North America. That is something we can control, because we are here, and frankly have nothing better to do. Not that there isn't a lot to do and we have nothing, but this is the BEST thing to do right now to make a huge immediate difference in our futures.
    Let's stop the Raven Mine now, before it gets some momentum and gets even harder to stop later, like after they've hired a bunch of unemployed folks from all over the country to work there...

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