Only Those With Heads Buried In The Tar Sands Would Call The Wildfires & Mother Nature ‘The Beast’ & ‘The Foe’

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted June 27th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

They call them “the beast.”

For weeks now, we have been hearing the word “beast” used to describe the Fort McMurray wildfires raging away in tar sands country in Alberta, Canada.

The wildfires have repeatedly been referred to as “the beast” by many of Canada’s federal and provincial leaders, by those with vested interests in Alberta’s tar sands, and by the mainstream media reporters across the country.

Wildfires raging in Alberta, Canada's tar sands region

Wildfires raging in Alberta, Canada’s tar sands region

There can be no doubt about one thing.

These wildfires, which have already gone down as the worst of their kind in Canadian history –  have done a horrific amount of destruction – totalling well over $10 billion to date – to property and to the economy of the region.

But they are they are not the beast.

The beast is what breathed these fires. It is what played a roe in setting the conditions – the record setting dryness and heat for any spring in northern Alberta – that made it possible for such fires to spread so rapidly and out of control.

This is the beats! It is right here, in this aerial shot below.

tar sands air shot

But then, of course in Canada, going back right to early this May when these fires began leading to one round after another of mass evacuations of homes and businesses, you could not talk about climate change with reference to this disaster.

The few who dared to, like Canada’s Green Party leader Elizabeth May, were soundly criticized  by other members of Canada’s political community and by many in the mainstream media for “politicizing” this disaster at a time when we should be focusing all our attention on helping the victims.

As if Elizabeth May and others who have been raising concern for years that disasters like this could not only happen, but could very well morph from once every hundred years to once every year or more, are not sensitive to the victims.fort mcmurray car on fire

I will trust their sensitivity over that of the petro-chemical industry which was featured lending a charitable hand to the victims in glowing accounts by the mainstream media.

This the same media, by the way,  that  caved years back to pleas from the industry to please stop calling the tar sands the tar sands and start calling them the oil sands because it would sound less filthy and would be easier to market them that way. It’s one of the reasons this media writer has continued to call them the tar sands and will as long as I continued to see aerial photos of them like the one above that makes them look like Canada’s version of a scorched earth policy.

And before I leave this post, I think I’d be remiss not to say a word or two about the contribution that Rachel Notley, who last year was elected Alberta’s first ever NDP premier, made to the climate denier followings while the wildfires were fully engaged.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley goes about pressing for building tar sands pipelines in a warmer, fuzzier way than the neo con cowboys she replaced

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley goes about pressing for building tar sands pipelines in a warmer, fuzzier way than the neo con cowboys she replaced

At one point, in the middle of this past May, Notley (who comes across looking just as obsessed in getting tar sand pipelines built coast to coast as her less touchy/feely Conservative predecessors, was heard making the following statement on CBC when winds shifted and the fires took another turn for the worse – “Mother Nature continues to be our foe,” she said, “and not our friend.”

Mother Nature is the foe?

That’s even more twsited than calling the wildfires the beast in one breath, then shaming people out of making any mention of climate change and the tar sands in the next.

Notley appears to be more intelligent than that in most of her interviews. But maybe that’s what comes from spending decades living in a culture and economy that is so heavily dependent on strip mining some of the last of her country’s and the world’s old growth forests for tarry goo.

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post. A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

Visit Niagara At Large at for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders



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