Why is it that some humans, when confronted by a vista of beauty, see only dollar signs and potential to terraform, steal and destroy?
This morning, I read an article that deeply affected me:
One of my favourite life memories occurred in Newfoundland as a child with my grandparents. We are driving through rolling hills on our way to Burgeo from Stephenville Crossing. The fog is so thick and dense that I can hardly see the side of the road, and when we get out for a break, I remember holding my hand out in front of me and watching it disappear completely, shrouded by the mist.
We crest a hill, and turn a corner, and the fog begins to dissipate, revealing a stunningly beautiful valley bog. Small streams sparkled even with the clouds, large rocks jutted out of the rolling blanket of rich, green sphagnum moss spotted with tufted deergrass, and small shrubs reached up toward the sky. There was no buildings, just nature at its finest.
And there, rather close to us actually, was an entire herd of grazing caribou. They seemed to fill the entire valley, and as we got out of the truck to watch them in amazement, I could not help but be awed by their sheer majesty.
On the other side of the country, where our lands border with Alaska, there is another herd of caribou that is under great threat. They're known as the Porcupine caribou herd, and their summer migration takes them to the beautiful Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to feed and raise their young. I have never been there, but the pictures of it remind me very much of the beauty I saw that day in Newfoundland.
They don't recognize international borders, and why should they? These beautiful creatures have been migrating for far longer than Canada or the United States have existed, and their migratory lands are protected by a 1987 legally-binding agreement between the two countries. President-elect Biden has even committed to enshrining the protections permanently.
Yet now enters humanity's greed, our never-ending quest for more: their summer migration land has the great misfortune of sitting atop 10 billion barrels of oil, and Trump, with less than a month and a half to stay in office, is eyeing their lands with nothing but dollar signs and greed in his eyes. He has begun actively trying to sell leases to drill for oil in this land of beauty, destroying the Refuge which is home to so much more than just the caribou. They're already working on scheduling seismic testing to scope out the exact size of the reserves, which risks damaging the tundra permafrost.
So let's just put that in perspective for one moment, because 10 billion sounds like a lot. The United States alone consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day. That means, using very simple math, that the American government and the greed-driven corporations are going to permanently destroy one of nature's wonders and permanently alter, possibly destroy, one of North America's largest herds of caribou.....for 500 days of oil supply - less than 1.5 years.
1.5 years of supporting a dying industry vs thousands of years of nature.
Is nothing sacred anymore? Can nothing be saved by humanity's never ending desire to satisfy ourselves above all else? This land and these caribou are sacred to some people: the Gwich'in, a First Nations people who treat the land and its natural occupants such as the caribou with great respect. Their way of life is also threatened by our greed.
Some things shouldn't be touched. This is one of them.
The Canadian government is actively opposing these leases. Canadian banks are refusing to fund them. Unfortunately, the lands in question are on American soil, so for my American friends, please reach out to your senators and tell them to stop Trump. In his last days of office he has no right to destroy something so beautiful as this.
#beauty #nature #savethecaribou #savetheplanet #ProtectANWR #natureisbeautiful