Letter: Measure tar sands before deaths

Dear Editor,

While I also respect anyone’s right to hold an obverse or unpalatable opinion, Terry Brenan [Oil sands next to tundra anyway, Feb. 11 Letters, Langley Advance] yet again misses the mark with his uninformed, incomplete response to my reponse  [Surviving LNG tanker proves nothing, Feb. 4 Letters, Advance] to his letter [Tankers proving safe for LNG, Jan. 7 Letters, Langley Advance].

Not to mention his all-hat, no-cattle, one-sided view of the situation, the fact that the tar sands are built in an uninhabitable swamp is even more offensive, but I am glad he brought it up.

Swamps are among the most fragile, important, and un-restorable elements of our ecosystem, and the fact that we don’t live in them is beyond irrelevant.

You can ask David Suzuki about that. He built his entire career on it.

But what does he know, compared to an armchair quarterback who apparently visited Fort McMurray and knows for a fact that what comes out of a smokestack is steam? I’ll be the first to let him breathe it.

And since when does the word “pristine” not apply to a swamp?

Comparing the loss of life at Bhopal in mere casualty numbers is another crass example of the exact source of our problem: our mentality. Counting bodies like dollars and writing them off as collateral damage is not something we need to be faced with in Canada.

And waiting until the big one happens is also about as intelligent as thinking it never will. Look how many accidents we’ve had in Canada just in the past year.

Just because it hasn’t happened yet in Alberta demonstrates the mentality that started this argument.

Imagine if the Calgary flood had washed through the swamp. That was just a shot across our bow, and it would have rendered thousands of hectares useless for growing crops, permanently.

Only a few people died in that one, but it still cost billions. The only difference there was that most of it was repairable, and mostly measurable in dollars.

It shouldn’t take 10,000 people dying to prove my point, or that nobody died to prove his.

No, I have not spent time in the Fort McMurray area. And who would want to? I wouldn’t want to be down wind or downriver anywhere near that hot mess.

But one does not need to go there to cite the scientific research that we have. I didn’t run the tests, certified scientists did, and they presented their findings in a movie that was screened at the Kwantlen College campus right here in Langley.

If one ever attended or led any of the many environmental and pipeline meetings or protest rallies organized by groups like Pipe-Up or Lead Now that occur regularly in Langley, then one could also find themselves accurately informed.

It takes several times the energy to cook the petroleum out of the tar sands that it used to, most of that as natural gas, which involves fracking, another very unpopular concept.

And if anyone thinks an oil fire burns hot, wait until we get an LNG tanker or pipeline explosion on film.

I wonder what Mr. Brenan will say when China wrecks their last two usable rivers and wants to come here for ours. There is already a drought in California.

All I know is, they aren’t going to be drinking my Great Lakes one bottle at a time.

Danny A. Halmo, Langley

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