One of our recent radio policy spots a few days ago discussed the notion of responsible resource development (Click here to listen). It presented the simple point that one can protect the natural environment and simultaneously favour resource development and economic growth.
By and large, admitting that there is always room for improvements, development and environment are not irreversibly locked in a necessary zero-sum relationship to most Canadians. Canadians have done a good job of developing a modern economy that provides for one of the most equitable social systems around and is attractive to people from all over the world. These balanced accomplishments call into question the extreme position that all modern human development is absolutely wrong.
Witness a recent letter exalting the Sierra Club, published in the Vancouver Sun. The writer delights in the anachronism that if the Sierra Club had been in existence when Europeans first arrived to the East Coast of North America Canada would not be the devastated land that the writer figures it is now:
The ugly scar of the Trans-Canada Highway would not have desecrated Canada’s map; pipelines would not have been built; hydroelectric dams would not flood large parcels of land; oil & gas deposits would have stayed in the ground where they belong; mining would not have polluted aboriginal settlements; transportation would have remained where rivers flow; the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System would have been rejected as environmentally unsound; Atlantic & Pacific seaports would have merely been sleepy fishing harbours and there would have been just trees where now cities sprawl.
This is not the mainstream view of an individual who worries about the preservation of our natural settings and the future of a family. Rather, it is a confused and radical view that would love to turn the clock back centuries, and seems to emerge from an unrealistic dream world.
Unless it was meant as a parody, which calls to mind the musical genius of David Byrne and the Talking Heads in their 1988 piece “Nothing but Flowers.”