Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Coquihalla Pondering

So yesterday evening at 10:30pm, Dean and I got in the van (cleaned and filled with gas by me) with a bunch of snacks (that we never eat - why do I always grossly over estimate?) and headed for Surrey. We were on our way to get our passports. Dean is heading to Nashville April 8 so we needed to do the fast track thing which you can do by filling out the online application and then going to a Passport Office (of which there are only 4 in BC and all in the lower mainland/island - UNFAIR, I say!) The Coq was terrible (deep slush) and it took us 6 hours to get there. And so we arrived at the passport office at 4:30am. And sat in our lawn chairs in line. And we weren't first. We were 10th and 11th! By 5:30 the line wrapped around the building. By 7:30 it was down the block.... But I digress....

We were admitted into the building (the first 30 people) at 7:45, the office opened at 8 and by 8:30 we were back at our van and heading home. Making that drive through the mountainous wilderness always makes me ponder our relationship to the environment. Today my thoughts (aided by many shots of caffeine because like most Clarkes, I cannot bare to let someone else drive and I did most of the 11 hours of driving.... Clarkes being naturally superior drivers, even if we do say so ourselves and tend to be a little on the fast side....) started to think about all the resources used by Dean and I to procure our passports. The gasoline, the emissions, the disturbance of large tracts of wilderness as we passed through it, the resources used for making the Coquihalla and maintain it, the plow/sanding trucks emissions and fuel used to clear the road for us, the wildlife habitat that was destroyed to create the highway, the resources used to make our van, the resources used to make the factory, the emissions of the factory, and so on... And I couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't a better way to do it? Really, there is an illusion of the government saving money by having so few passport offices. Yet the cost to the environment for the travel necessary in cases like ours, is a cost that we all bear in different ways - the government is responsible for the maintenance of the roads, for example, which get more wear and tear when we have to travel like this. I bet in the long run, it would be more cost effective to have passport offices in local centres. A drive to Kelowna at 4:00am would have used a lot less resources!

And then I started to think about what it would be like if we had to acknowledge and be conscious of the resources used for everything that we use. Like if when we went to the grocery store, instead of the steak being just anonymous meat, before we could purchase it, we had to realize all the resources that went into making that steak, all the resources that were used to grow the grain to feed the cow, the gas used to power the tractor, all the resources used to get the oil and turn it into gas or diesel, the emissions of the tractor, the efforts of the rancher, the resources used to round up the cow... And also we had to realize where this cow lived and how it lived to provide us with this steak. Or if when we went to buy toilet paper, we had to acknowledge all the resources that went into that paper, the trees that were cut, the fuel that the machinery used, the emissions they made, the resources used to build the pulp mill, the cost to the environment for the emmissions (and I spent 8 years in Prince George, so I have an idea of this... the smell of PG is the smell of the pulp mill on most days... kind of like a ripe fart), the polution created to bleach it, the fish that died, the waterways that were killed, and so on. Or when we went to buy a car, we had to come to terms with all the resources used to make the car and the factory to make the car and the impact that using the car would have on the environment... I think you get the idea. How would that change how we consume? Because I think it would.

For several years awhile ago, I got myself some bummer lambs (lambs whose mother's had either died or rejected them) and bottle fed them joyfully with my children and raised them and then had them slaughtered and butchered. And then we ate them. In fact the day they came back from the butcher, the first chops would go on the BBQ and we would celebrate and enjoy our lamb. Friends who were ravenous carnivores criticized me for 'exposing my children' to this barbarism. And wondered how I could bare to eat those cute creatures who we named, bottle fed and played with. My retort was that all meat was cute once and that I think if we all had to see what our meat looked like before it gave it's live for our nutrition, that there would be a lot more vegetarians and that people in general would eat a lot less meat! I also I would rather know that the meat I am eating had a good life and was treated with love while it was alive.

This all leads me to ponder the danger in the disconnect of our urban lifestyle. It seems predisposed to imbalance. The milk we drink comes from a plastic jug. The meat we eat comes from the store. The butter and cheese, the noodles, the beans all come from the store. Considering the ultimate source is often distasteful. Our food is anonymous. We are disconnected from the source. We do not have to grapple with the ethical questions of the rain forrests in the Amazon cut down for our soy milk when we purchase the chaste carton in the store. We do not have to face the lives of cattle or chickens raised in factory farming situations when we pick up the packages of meat in the cooler. We do not have to face the loss of bird habitat, prairie dog and other small rodents' habitat that have been destroyed for the grain to make our bread and pasta and to feed the stock to feed our voracious appetite for meat. Or that the herds of bison were slaughtered for the 'progress' of the railroad and the many natural habitats that have been destroyed for our homes... and the second and third homes. These casualties are so old now that only their ghosts faintly roam the land.

I believe that it is true, the 'blind shall see' and that our 'secrets will be shouted from the housetops'. I believe that there is always an end to the darkness of ignorance. I believe that sooner or later, we always have to face the consequence of our actions. Always. Anytime we embark on an action, the end result, the consequence for good or bad, is inevitably set. And the actions that we have taken as a society, although they are not held to account in the same generation will ultimately be held to account.

When?........ How about now....

And when I got home, I find that my friend who inspires me is pondering the same things today. You can read what she wrote here

9 comments:

Mary-Sue said...

Amen, soulsister. Amen. You've put it just like it sounded in my own head. Amazing we were thinking the same things at the exact same time without knowing it... wow.

Heather said...

Well Andrea, I like the way you ponder. ;-) Powerful stuff to be thinking that way...can't help but incite some changes with that way of thinking.

bum.by.the.sea said...

i agree on all that disconnection stuff.
but I also just had to say that I might not be a clarke, turns out, because I LOVE letting other people drive, so I can look out the window.

Andrea said...

Well, we all know you are a Clarke! But I think it is those McLean genes poking through... Or maybe those Cooke genes. Grandma never did get her driver's license and has spent her life on public transit or getting rides from others.

katie said...

i don't have to drive either

Monique said...

So we were all three thinking of "big picture" stuff on March 20. Wow. Too cool. I wrote a lot more stuff in the SD village too - I'm starting to get a bit too...disjointed with writing all over. Hm. And I want to know how to link to another blog!

Miranda said...

My friend Katrina, who recently became a Canadian almost 25 years after moving here from the U.S., relinquished her U.S. passport last year and suddenly realized she needed a passport for a trip in early May. She was toying with heading to Surrey from New Denver but had heard very discouraging stories. I sent her to this blog entry and she felt encouraged enough by your experience to give it a whirl. She spent 2 days getting to and from the Lower Mainland, but was successful at the passport office the day she was there and is thrilled! Five hours in line, no serious glitches. Thanks!

Miranda

bum.by.the.sea said...

excuse me, but I have my drivers liscence, if that's what you were reffering to.

Andrea said...

I know you have your driver's license - you've driven me places, remember? I meant not having the need to do all the driving...