So, I woke up early this morning to see if I could write this before everyone else gets on the wireless through this retreat center.
Now two days ago, we began the day by flying over the oil sands.
After being given maps of the current leases on this property, we were stunned at the amount of territory that would be affected by exploration and excavation. According to the map given to us, the leased lands are 100 km. by 160 km.
But, for me personally, it was the tour by Suncor employees that completely upended me. This one plant had hundreds and hundreds of miles of pipeline running throughout a moonscape -- not a tree, not a form of life except for human beings in boots upon it. Steam escaping, tall steel harsh looking towers.
The tour guides were young, vivacious 20 somethings. Words like fractionators, hydrofractors, candycane towers, sweet product, sour product, clean product rolled off their tongues fast and furiously. Yet, this young tour guide "knew nothing about climate change". We did find out however, that she had just upgraded from a $450,000.00 trailer home to a $650,000.00 home. This is an aerial view of a new housing development of 1500 homes in the Ft. McMurray area.
We went into the garage which was maintaining trucks whose shovel could hold 300 hippopotamuses...300! Here's the size of just one tire of just one of the 7 million dollar dump trucks. They have 70 of these trucks on site.
We weren't able to get close to the pits that these trucks worked 7 days a week 24 hours a day in nor the tailings pond which is one of the worst environmental parts of the oil sands.
The last part of the tour and on video on the way back we saw the creation and evidence of what's called the "reclamation" area. This area completed in 2010 is an area on their leased property that in the tour guide's words, "has begun the circle of life again". I found relief there but wow....(as I think was shared with employees who planted 5 million trees)...there's a rather crazy way that there's a belief that all's better now that "we've reclaimed the land" is arrogant to say in the least. This feeling that we can fix all that we destroy is rather powerful in this area. Here's a picture of the reclamation.
We were devastated by this tour. Not only by the woundedness of the earth.....by the kind of human arrogance and conquering....and many of us used the word "rape"....the total devastation of the ecosystems but by the minds of people who seemed to so deeply defend the process. No one said, "I am not happy about this work, but hey....I feed my family and send them to college....".....No one we talked with during this entire two days of immersion and experience in Ft. McMurray said anything critical of the actual industry and the effects of the industry on the community's health, their lives, their understanding of themselves, their creatureliness, their integration into creation, their humility as human beings. No one.
Jennifer asked why people would be negative towards the community and the oil sands workers. No one is negative towards them. It's this deep justification of such a workstyle and such destruction of ecosystem..... that caused our hearts to grieve.
What is Love in this context? Is it to pastor to the dying? Is this Love? Or is there a prophetic Love that says, "wait"....."hold up"...."talk to me"....(which I tried to do) How do I, who have the privilege of not working in such desolation, how do I talk about these vitally important things?