June 19th, 2018

Exploiting our soil and resources is shortsighted

By Letter to the Editor on February 11, 2018.

Are we mining our soil and eroding our civilization? Is our sense of history too short?

Most city job seekers think from month to month, businesses calculate quarterly, corporations year to year, our politicians election to election (sometimes minute to minute). The stock market is no longer a source of funding to develop our industry over a generation – father to son.

Few people ask why the great civilizations (Babylon, Egypt, Rome and Mayan) disappeared, while the hunter/gatherers endured for tens of thousands of years. Is our sense of time becoming shorter and shorter, tied to the speed of financial returns, or the interest rate?

The coastal tribes were conscious of seasonal returns of salmon and cod until our “higher” society market reduced the fish population to farming. The plains natives did not eliminate the herds of buffalo, or kill the bird life; we did. Our so called “advanced” civilization seeks to exploit every resource for the short-time makers-of-fortunes (the entrepreneurs). The chapter titles of a recent book is enlightening: 1) Good old dirt, 2) Skin of the earth, 3) Rivers of life, 4) Graveyard of empires, 5) Let them eat colonies, 6) Westward hoe, 7) Dust blow, 8) Dirty business, 9) Islands in time, 10) Lifespan of civilizations. (“DIRT” by D.R. Montgomery)

In the short span of my life I have watched farms become huge because farmers can’t make a living on 80 or 160 acres without subsidies or tax breaks. Foreigners are stunned to learn of our farms and ranches of thousands of acres. Most families in my youth had backyard gardens, “food banks” for generations of fresh-food-conscious garden raiders. Kids knew which gardens the best peas, carrots or apples came from. Most children today have no idea where food comes from. Dirt under fingernails! Yuk!

Don Ryane


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6 Responses to “Exploiting our soil and resources is shortsighted”

  1. gs172 says:

    While I am also guilty of romanticizing the past at times, there are some facts that are lacking in your letter. To say that ancient societies endured is true, but it was more of existing than flourishing. Infant mortality is over 30 times greater among hunter-gatherers, and early child mortality is over 100 times greater than encountered in the United States and Canada. We see that on average 57 percent, 64 percent, and 67 percent of children born survive to age 15 years among hunter-gatherers, forager-horticulturalists, and acculturated hunter-gatherers. There is, as one would expect, a clear trend towards longer live and lower infant mortality rates in industrialized societies. That’s not to say we can’t do things better, but I for one do not want to go back in time.

  2. diplomacy works says:

    To say ancient societies didn’t flourish is flat out wrong.

    While Europe was lost to the dark ages, pestilence and ruled by kings and queens, the west coast of Canada supported a lush life for First Nations who feasted, potlatched, fought and traded with their neighbours.

    Further south, archaeologists have just discovered a “lost” city of the Mayans, including “… more than 60,000 hidden stone structures, including palaces, temples, and fortified walls, in the Guatemalan jungle.”

    Some like to believe settlers brought modern medicine and so improved the lives of the First people’s here – truth they brought pestilence and death and were looking for a way out of Europe and to being free and owning land. But first settlers “cleared the plains”.

    A long life is not necessarily a good life and hunter-gatherer societies live longer than usually thought, a lifestyle that has never and will never be superceded.


  3. biff says:

    good points all around from don, gs, and dw. most things are a mixed bag of pros and cons, but clearly, we are too often idiots and fools today: so much in our faces to tell us we are blowing it, and too few willing to force an absolutely necessary acknowledgement that we have much to change and a lot to fix. the present pipeline fiasco is a prime point. those supporting its building to the bc coast choose to be blind to the real and dirty effects it will bring. we have decades worth of massive leaks and spills, poisoning land, water tables, streams, rivers, lakes…present construction models and clean ups being way ineffective. are we just plain inherently dumb, or is it simply that our economic approach makes us dumb?

  4. already extinct says:

    Equally good points biff, but did knowing all you wrote keep you from using all that petroleum you willingly bought?

    I applaud you if you say yes, but unfortunately I know you didn’t because you delivered your message thanks to BIG bad OIL.
    Not defending the spills, the greedy buggers involved in this messy corrupt business, sanctioned by our equally greedy corrupt politicians owned lock stock and barrel by petroleum -, etc etc, just saying….

  5. biff says:

    guilty. i do my best to use sparingly, but like the lot of us suckers i am dependent. however, i am willing to support leadership that moves us away from the disgusting mess. i support moving into cleaner forms of energy. i am willing to take a financial hit in order to have a sustainable future – whatever it takes, so long as i am not being played.
    consequently, i find it odd that our prov’l gov’t seems to be pushing green, and yet they are getting militant about constructing more dirty piplelines. to them i say: take a stand; show leadership; now is the time to demonstrate what you truly stand for? alas, i am seeing just another bunch of political stumping dummies that will prostitute themselves for any cause that might earn a vote.

  6. already extinct says:

    Well said!

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