Accelerating into the fog

Imagine, for a minute, that you are riding a motorcycle and you are accelerating. Exhilarating, isn't it? Especially on a twisty road, and this one is particularly wriggly. There is curve after curve.

Imagine, for a minute, that you are riding a motorcycle and you are accelerating.

Exhilarating, isn’t it?

Especially on a twisty road, and this one is particularly wriggly.

There is curve after curve. You hit another, and open the throttle a bit more.

The centreline is zipping by. So are the deep woods on either side of the road. You crank the throttle some more … wooohooo!

And then all the markers are gone, obscured by a thick patch of fog.

Now you can’t see a blessed thing. You are blind, and have no clue where you are going or even where the road is.

So you crank the throttle a bit more …

And so here we are, in the midst of a global crisis, essentially blind, cranking the throttle and expecting to emerge unscathed.

We’re talking about rampant industrialization and resource extraction, climate change and planning. Or the lack of it.

The evidence of this recklessness is everywhere.

We could go macro, and lament the stuff Ottawa is and isn’t doing. Or we can stick around home and look in the Yukon.

For example, the territory likes to brag about its clean, fish-filled rivers and watersheds.

But how pristine are they? And how many fish do they contain? Are the ecosystems healthy? Are they as healthy as they were five or 10 years ago?

We don’t know.

The territory has done almost no research into such places. It has virtually no baseline data.

Even high profile areas like the Peel Watershed are a mystery. Other less iconic places might as well be on the dark side of the moon.

And, when a development is proposed, the company behind it is tasked with figuring out what’s there – of collecting that basic information.

That seems a little ridiculous.

The information a mining or exploration company is interested in collecting is far different than the stuff a biologist might be focused on.

Consider, for a moment, that every year the territory spends more than $74 million making sure there’s mineral and oil and gas development in the territory.

It voluntarily maps out the geological data for the companies, and makes the information freely available – promoting development.

It spends just seven per cent of that budget doing inspections and other oversight. As a point of comparison, it spends five per cent doing communications.

In comparison, the territory spends just $27 million on its Environment Department.

And there is scarcely any similar collection of baseline biological data that might match the mapping of geological formations.

So we know where the commodities are, and how rich the deposits are, but are more than a little clueless when it comes to the quality of the water, or the populations of fish and other biological resources.

The problem is that our society’s economic policies give priority to things that are, in a practical sense, virtually worthless, like lead and zinc, and generally disregard the things that are really valuable to sustaining life, like water and fish.

That offhand approach to those resources is seen in how little we examine them prior to approving projects that will destroy them.

As we said at the beginning, we are essentially blind on a twisty highway and we’re opening the throttle.

It may be exciting in the short term, but it’s almost guaranteed to end in disaster.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Connie Peggy Thorn, 52, pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to manslaughter in the 2017 death of Greg Dawson. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of Greg Dawson

Connie Thorn, 52, was arrested in October 2019 and pleaded guilty in Supreme Court on Jan. 27.

Abigail Jirousek, left, is tailed by Brian Horton while climbing a hill during the Cross Country Yukon January Classic in Whitehorse on Jan. 23. Jirousek finished second in the U16 girls category. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Cross Country Yukon hosts classic race

Cross Country Yukon hosted a classic technique cross-country ski race on Jan.… Continue reading

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver talks to media on March 5, 2020. The Yukon government said Jan. 25 that it is disappointed in a decision by the federal government to send the Kudz Ze Kayah mining project back to the drawing board. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Territorial and federal governments at odds over Kudz Ze Kayah mine project

The federal government, backed by Liard First Nation, sent the proposal back to the screening stage

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 27, 2021

Yukon RCMP said in a press release that they are seeing an increase in tinted front passenger windows and are reminding people that it is illegal and potentially dangerous. (RCMP handout)
RCMP warn against upward trend of tinted windows

Yukon RCMP are seeing more vehicles with tinted front passenger windows, prompting… Continue reading

An arrest warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old man facing two tickets violating the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em>. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Arrest warrant issued for CEMA violation

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ansh Dhawan over two tickets for violating CEMA

The office space at 151 Industrial Road in Marwell. At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 25 meeting, members voted to sign off on the conditional use approval so Unit 6 at 151 Industrial Rd. can be used for office space. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Marwell move set for land and building services staff

Conditional use, lease approved for office space

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

Most Read