We're #1: A More Positive Take On Canada's Dismal Environmental Record

"You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you
And always look on the bright side of life"

      - "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" by Monty Python from the film Life Of Brian

There are those who claim that every single Canadian should feel shame and embarrassment over the fact that Canada's overall environmental record ranks eighth among the G-8 nations and that, according to the World Wildlife Fund, Canada's 33 million people "emit more greenhouse gases than half the countries in the world put together".

But I'd say that such people are simply being overly negative.

I mean, at least we didn't come in ninth, right?

It may be true that many countries in Europe have been making significant progress in cutting their greenhouse gas emissions while Canada's emissions continue to skyrocket, but that's no reason to stop telling ourselves that we've been doing the best job possible under difficult conditions.

The pessimists, worrywarts and naysayers out there may want us all to feel down and despondent, but the fact is being the world's worst per capita contributors to climate change-causing gases means we're actually number one at something. And there are few things, outside of hockey, that we've ever been #1 at. So, come on all you proud Canadians out there, let's hear it: "We're #1!! We're #1!! We're #1!!"

That's right, people of Canada, we finally stand out. We're finally being noticed. No longer a middling country that most of the world barely even notices, except perhaps when thinking of vacation destinations, we're now actually becoming well known for something other than Celine Dion and Bryan Adams.

And, once noticed like this, we'll never be forgotten.

We'll be immortal.

Think about it, future generations will always remember us as special, as unique, as extraordinary.

"Extraordinarily what?" is simply missing the point. The point is we're #1 and we've now got a legacy to take with us through the ages.

Like the Portuguese and their slave trading.

The Spanish and their impressive American Indian-slaughtering conquistadors.

Mississippi and Alabama and their racism.

Saudi Arabia and their misogyny.

South Africa and their apartheid.

The Soviets and their gulags.

The Khmer Rouge and their killing fields.

The Americans and their carpet bombing of Vietnamese civilians.

The North Koreans and their brainwashing, starving and parading.

Think about it. Did Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky do their absolute best at the whole cold-blooded racist scumbag thing back in the day? Yes, of course they did. But are they remembered? Hell, no! The fact is they simply never measured up to the zeal and conviction shown by their neighbors in Alabama and Mississippi.

Likewise, did the English and French slaughter Natives in the New World? Most definitely! But the fact is they simply sucked at it compared to the Spanish. The Spanish, above all others, will be remembered.

And, hey, is there misogyny is Yemen? You bet there is. But they've got nothing on the Saudis.

Well, the same thing goes for destroying the planet. The Americans, particularly during the George W. Bush years, may have indeed done their very best at doing nothing when it came to trying to rein in global warming, but, try as they may, they have never really been able to step up to the plate and hit a real home run on this issue the way Canada has.

But, to be fair, they never actually stood a chance, did they? After all, Canada has had a secret weapon for years now.

The Sands of Oily Despair

There's no denying just what that secret weapon is, nor the importance it has played in helping propel us Canadians into first place both on that G-8 list and on the list of the world's worst per capita polluters.

We're talking about the oilsands of Alberta of course.

Not only have these pits of environmental despair made us #1 when it comes to destroying the planet for future generations, but they've also helped to raise our profile globally, making us much more (in)famous on the world stage than we ever thought possible.

A column by Mark Morford in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week perfectly highlights this fact and is just one of many recent pieces in the international media that have put the spotlight on this Great National Project of ours.

Here's a taste of Morford's piece. And don't be put off by some of the negative-sounding adjectives he uses. Just remember that all publicity is good publicity and keep telling yourself that it's always great to be noticed:

Have you heard? Have you taken even a cursory peek lately into the oversized eco nightmare that is Canada's monstrous, pollutive, disgusting hellholes of rapacious greed and pollution and destruction and sheer capitalistic joy? I bet you have.

They are, you might say, the finest example we currently have of a massive, soulless industry and a major first-world government shoving a giant middle finger in the face of all notions of progress and environmental integrity.

They're not the only ones, to be sure -- the coal industry's middle finger is downright callused from flipping everyone off so aggressively -- but for sheer gall, for shamelessly stomping a greasy black boot heel into the face of environmental progress right now, the oilsands simply can't be beat.

They are true wonders, testaments to mankind's remarkable power to continue -- against every hunk of knowledge and common sense -- to rape, maul and utterly devastate everything we supposedly hold dear, all in the name of filthy profit.

"True wonders"!

"Sheer capitalistic joy"!

"Testaments to mankind's remarkable power"!

"The oilsands simply can't be beat"!

Now that's a rave! When's the last time anyone outside of Canada even bothered to write about Canadian industry, let alone with such incredible passion?

It's true that this topic has been much discussed in the Canadian media - and it certainly did make a big splash in my earlier piece, Canada: Top Ten Things To Love and Hate, where it once again came in at #1 - but, to have commentators in other countries taking note of our unique status like this is definitely something extra-special that's clearly worth celebrating.

I mean, to be this noticed and discussed by people around the globe when it comes to the most critical issue facing the planet today really does make one feel rather lucky to be a Canadian right now.

It's great to know that, though usually a small player on the world stage when it comes to the big stories of our times such as this one, we truly can, at times, be world-class contributors, pulling far more than our own weight.

So, all you Canadian politicians out there - and all you regular Canadians too, for that matter - please keep doing whatever you've been doing because it sure is working.

One thing's for sure, with the oilsands scheduled to triple production by 2020, we're certainly not about to lose our first place ranking anytime soon.

We're #1! We're #1! We're #1!

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Friday, October 9th, 2009


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