LETTER: Missing big picture with tunnel vision will be our downfall

LETTER: Missing big picture with tunnel vision will be our downfall


I often wonder whether that unfortunate aspect of human nature that permits us our collective tunnel vision regarding natural environment degradation, will be our eventual undoing?

Maybe due to Earth’s large size, there seems to be a general oblivious mentality as though even the largest contamination event can somehow be safely absorbed into the environment—air, sea and land.

For example, it’s largely believed that when released into gritty B.C. coastal waters, diluted bitumen (dilbit) will likely sink to the bottom, as with the 2010 Michigan spill in which dilbit is still being scraped off of the Kalamazoo River floor.

I wonder, could that sinking characteristic perhaps appeal to some people who are usually apathetic towards the natural environment deep below the water surface: i.e. it will no longer be an eyesore after it sinks.

It may be the same mentality that allows the immense amount of plastic waste, such as disposable straws, to eventually find its way into our life-filled oceans, where there are few, if any, caring souls to see it.            

After all, why worry about such things immediately unseen, regardless of their most immense importance, especially when there are various undesirable politicians and significant social issues over which to dispute—distractions our mainstream media seem only too willing to provide us?

Besides, what back and brain busting, home-mortgaged labourer sustains the energy to worry about such things immediately unseen?

I see it somewhat analogous to a cafeteria lineup consisting of diversely societally represented people, all adamantly arguing over which identifiable traditionally marginalized person should be at the front and, conversely, at the back of the line; and, furthermore, to whom amongst them should get the last piece of quality pie—all the while the interstellar spaceship on which they’re all permanently confined is burning and toxifying at locations rarely investigated.

As a species, we really can be so heavily preoccupied with our own admittedly overwhelming little worlds, that we’ll miss the biggest of pictures.

Frank Sterle Jr., White Rock


  1. “It’s harder to rally people around a threat to humanity than one that endangers their own backyard.” I spotted this profound yet disturbing truism, albeit perhaps logically Darwinian, in an essay (titled “Crossing Lines”) in the July/August issue of The Walrus.
    It highlights the apparently prevailing penny-wise-pound-foolish widespread human mentality when it comes to the serious manmade pollution, though immediately free from our societal view, that’s toxifying our life-sustaining natural environment and worsening an already dire global warming reality.
    Perhaps it helps explain the increase in per capita automobile ownership (including SUVs) in Canada last year, compared to 2016, especially in B.C.; it’s something that UBC’s Sauder School of Business economist Werner Antweiler describes as “a disconcerting picture”, considering serious global greenhouse gas concerns. “The number of vehicles has grown faster than the number of people in the country.”
    Could it be the same mentality that, when asked by a Global news reporter (a few months back) what he thought of government restrictions on disposable plastic straws, compelled a young male Vancouverite wearing sunglasses to retort, “It’s like we’re living in a nanny state, always telling me what I can’t do.”
    Astonished by his utter shortsightedness, I recall wondering whether he was the same sort of individual who had a sufficiently grand sense of material entitlement—a.k.a. the “Don’t tell me what to do!” attitude—to permit himself to now deliberately dump a whole box of unused straws into the Georgia Strait, just to stick it to the authorities who’d dare tell him that enough is enough with our gratuitous massive dumps of plastics into our oceans (which are of course unable to defend themselves against such guys seemingly asserting self-granted sovereignty over the natural environment), so he could figuratively middle-finger any new government rules with a closing, ‘There! How d’ya like that, pal?!”
    And, of course, the condition is allowed to fester via a mainstream news-media, being socially liberal and/or economically libertarian, that seems to not have a problem with such childish oh-well perspectives; the same narrow-mindedness that often makes me question whether we really have plausible hope in turning around our recklessness in time?

  2. I read a very recent government report from the US that over 63 billion gallons of crude is required to produce enough plastic just to produce water bottles for North America alone..…..each year!
    If you are a so called environmentalist and yet purchasing your water in a plastic bottles you are the problem.
    As the old saying goes; “think globally, act locally”.
    It is not what people are saying or devoting their mouths and money to, it is how they act that really counts.
    I just passed through Jasper recently and I very specifically kept my eyes peeled for what I tried to identify as environmentalists. You can spot them easily, high end gear all talking about the environment and getting ready to go hike and deface the environment. And of course lots of plastic water bottles.

    Cost me $10 so that I could get into town and purchase fuel and a sandwich.

    This proposed national park for the South Okanagan will be a travesty to our environment. Cameras lights action, Ottawa will be able to placate the environmental lobby at our expense.

    Michael Guthrie, Oliver