We’re about to leave Red Deer and tonight will be our last night on the road. It’s gone by so fast.
After Edmonton we stayed with Richard and Linda McKelvie in their amazing home in Ponoka. They are an example of what we need to see more of as we enter such an uncertain future. Their home was built with a hill over it that dramatically reduces energy consumption for heating and cooling. In the evening when we arrived, the McKelvies hosted a potluck supper followed by a presentation on the tremendous energy potential of geothermal heat. This could provide distributed power generation at the community level with far less need for expensive transmission lines. It seems the biggest impediment to implementing this power source is that ‘it just hasn’t been done around here’, yet the technology has been proven elsewhere in the world and Alberta has plenty of workers with the skills to drill down for heat and to build power stations. These are the kinds of green jobs we need to create but the Stelmach and Harper governments are ignoring their duty to turn in this direction.
Richard said several times that what we need are people with vision who will just say ‘it’s going to happen’ and then they do it even though there will be missteps and failures along the way. For too long we have mostly seen ruthless business people with that attitude and they have caused great destruction but we could have leaders with that same doggedness who lead us in positive directions. We need to stop listening to the ‘old boys network’ who preach apathy. Someday they will be known to be as pathetic as the racist we ran into during a rest stop. Our fossil fool government will look as stupid as the politicians who argued against giving women the vote. Turning a blind eye to the damage caused by unrestrained tar sands expansion is like ignoring the residential school problem. The repercussions will haunt generations to come.
Yesterday we rode to Red Deer to meet with a community group for dinner and a movie. We heard about how the cost of living and doing business is going way up because of all the oil money coming into the province yet many people seem to be struggling more instead of getting richer. Only the rich are getting richer. Meanwhile government support for seniors is getting cut. Crime is increasing. Quality of life is going down.
After dinner we watched the film of last year’s ride. The issues are still just as difficult as last year but we must press on. If there is another bike ride like this five years from now, I hope those riders will hear stories of responsible investment in sustainable energy, improved quality of life, human rights and treaty rights being respected, and workers feeling proud of their jobs instead of ashamed. I don’t want those future riders to choke on fumes from upgraders, to read longer lists of cancer deaths, or to hear another person say, “I support you but you won’t make any difference.”
Where to from here? Keep making noise. It appears we will have an election this fall so have to keep asking politicians what they think about the tar sands. Make it clear you will campaign against anyone who won’t take a stand against irresponsible expansion or won’t aggressively support sustainable development that helps make fossil fuels obsolete.
It’s our future. Let’s not screw it up.
(Posted by J.D. Gibbard)