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By Eric Brattstrom and Dotty Kyle
Damage done by our disregard for the very land we share with billions of other species should give us pause and help guide us to be more thoughtful custodians of this once bountiful Earth. The destruction is not always "in our faces" – we get used to it or it's out of sight. The more than 400 dead zones of our oceans (a million square miles and growing) is out of sight to most of us and so is the once pristine First Nations lands of Alberta, Canada. It's an old story. Newcomers walk all over treaties with indigenous people. Oklahoma residents now proudly proclaim themselves "Sooners," not recognizing the true history of the term – a land grab opening a choice portion of Indian territory to white settlement.
We are currently aiding and abetting the government of Alberta in their disregard for the health and property rights of First Nations people. Proposing to provide an outlet for their tar sands diluted bitumen with the Keystone Pipeline and perhaps through Vermont as well in the Portland to Montreal pipeline is truly wrong-headed and risky.
Oil sands (as the industry prefers to call their toxic product), once extracted, refined and burned, will be the last straw that the Earth as we know it can handle. James Hansen, former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, speaks publicly about the dangers of continued reliance on fossil fuels and tar sands in particular.
Big Oil is destroying hundreds of square miles of CO2-absorbing Canadian boreal forests and replacing them with leaking sludge ponds and polluted rivers and in the process dumping countless tons of greenhouse gasses into the already overextended atmosphere.
Canadian First Nations people have taken up the slogan "Idle No More" in their fight to save themselves, the land and creatures they rely on for their very lives. We second nation Americans have a dog in this fight, as well – the survival of our grandchildren. It would be unconscionable to sit back idly and watch from the sidelines.
Write or speak to Senators Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy and Peter Welch...or better yet, to John Kerry and President Obama.
They need to know where we stand.
Brattstrom and Kyle live in Warren