After my last post was read by a close friend she implored me to get out and smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of Spring. Thanking her, I assured her that I get out on a daily basis to walk and throw the frisbee to our dog in the foothills above Salt Lake City. Rain, mud and snow do not deter us and we love to see our dog Candie run after the frisbee. Besides if i tarry too long, she’ll pace the house and nuzzle me with her nose until I relent and take her out.
The hills and our yards are greening up, trees are ablaze with color and, for our allergy sufferers, the air is filled with pollen. Of course our apricot tree has once again “prematurely ejaculated” and we probably will not see much fruit production this year-again.
The contrast of snow against bare bark and green grass is breathtaking. Our valley is coming to life again and our garden is yet to be planted. We’re still looking at the forecasts and have been bringing the plants out first thing in the morning and bringing them back inside before bed. Since I am virtually blind I often step on the pots and baskets that litter our kitchen and MY bath.
My poor vision is also preventing us from going fly fishing, which I try to do whenever my health permits. But I still want to go fishing which is really a misnomer because I do not catch a lot of fish. I do catch things like submerged branches, overhanging foliage, sixty pound black labrador retrievers, my own clothing and yes the occasional trout. For the most part I am a “traumatize and release,” fisherman, but I do occasionally keep and either eat my catch, or foist it on my neighbors.
My wife and I love to eat trout but, because the waters in our state and the west are contaminated with the byproducts of burning fossil fuels for energy, eating too many fish is poisonous to one’s appreciation of spring, summer, fall and winter.
As if our already strained water supplies needed further insult there are some who would like to build nuclear power plants and yet an other water intensive process, oil and gas extraction from our tar sand deposits. National Geographic Magazine, you may recall, ran an article on the unmitigated ecological disaster in Alberta, Canada which is the direct result of oil extraction from their tar sands.
“Canadian Oil Boom” is the title of the feature article that appeared in their March 2009 issue of the magazine. Despite assurances from the oil and gas industry that the extraction process and its toxic byproducts are really nothing to worry about, the author of the article, as well as another friend of mine who has worked in Fort McMurray Alberta, would beg to differ.
My friend’s company was contracted to build slurry walls around the toxic sludge pits and in those areas where another extraction process was being used. Slurry walls are basically trenches that are around 3-5 feet wide and 70 to over 100 feet deep and circle the pits. Bentonite clays are often used to fill the trench. These clays absorb water and swell and in theory prevent other noxious fluids and suspended solids from contaminating the surrounding ground water.
The water in question is the Athabasca river that originates in Jasper National Park. Natural seeps of bitumen along the river are used as evidence by the industry to explain the mutated fish in the river. But hydrologists found that an estimated 45,000 gallons of contaminated water in Suncor’ Pond 1 could reach the river. It now has. But at the same time America needs fuels.
We need liquid fuels. Our military is one the world’s largest consumers of liquid fuels. WWI and WWII were fought over liquid fuels and their access. Despite the demonization of President George Bush, America, for tactical and strategic reasons, needed secure installations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don’t believe me? Tell that to the over 80 million who perished in the last two great wars.
The Pentagon recently announced that it considered impending Peak Oil to be a national security concern. It is imperative that we reduce our consumption and convert to cleaner fuel technologies. Liquid fuels are too valuable to burn in order to heat and cool our homes as well as an absolute necessity for our Military. Don’t believe me? Read the DOD reports. Which brings me back to the fish I would occasionally like to eat.
Water is precious in the arid west. Our native american ancestors great civilizations in the Four Corners Region collapsed because of prolong drought and the salination of their fields, according to Jarad Diamond in his sequel to his pulitzer price winning “Guns, Germs and Steel,” the title of which is “Collapse.” Water is too valuable for drinking and to irrigate our crops to be diverted into the development of tar sands in our backyards. In addition, we are blessed with one of the most beautiful of God’s Creations with our diverse landscape in Utah. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat the fish.