Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Trapper's "Cache" or store house

Securing Supplies or “Possibles”

I posted something similar to this back in September of 2014

            Today we call them necessary supplies. Soldiers might call them “rations”. More than just food, “possibles” would also include needles, thread, first aid supplies, perhaps extra ammunition or a knife. In the early days of the mountain man they were “possibles” because there was a good possibility you would need them to survive and if you didn’t have any there was a good possibility you wouldn’t --- survive that is.

            Some time ago an agent, commenting on one of my stories, wrote that he had “never heard of a log cabin built high in the trees.” He was commenting on a stores cache I had described. I couldn’t believe that anyone who had read historical fiction, history, or any story depicting mountain men and homesteaders had not heard of a permanent storage cache or understood a description of same.

            But then, once I had given it some thought I realized that there are very few such structures described in either fiction or non-fiction. Any pictures of such that I now hold in my imagination are not from description but from an actual structure I’ve seen; perhaps a half dozen of them.
            I also had trouble finding pictures of one. There is a copy of one displayed at the Walter Wright Pioneer Village in Dawson Creek and although it is only on posts about  4 feet high it does present the idea quiet well. I should have taken a picture of it this summer. Here is a period picture I did find:

Charlie MacDonald’s cabin near Toad River
The "cache" or "stores" is the building on stilts on the left.

            Without a method of storing supplies in the wilderness and particularly in mountainous country those supplies will not last long. Wolves, bears, wolverines, lynx, and many other animals eat and enjoy the same items humans eat. If efforts are not made to keep those items away from wildlife then the human will not have the supplies he thought he had.
            And sometimes even the best of efforts fail.

            There are several descriptions of temporary caches such as one Lloyd Cushway describes in one of his stories. He has several collections of short stories, “Trail Smoke” being one but I think this particular story appears in “Crosswind to the Fire.”

            Lloyd and a partner had heard of a mineral find in the upper reaches of the Cameron River in North-East British Columbia. Since they had some experience with the area they decided that they would attempt to stake claims before the “big outfits” (primarily Gulf Minerals) could take it all. They put together supplies for two weeks and flew up near the area. They landed and with each carrying a heavy pack, hiked for an hour to a good camp.

Piper Cub

            The partner had to hike back to the plane and fly out to a meeting in Ft. St. John, so they quickly put together a meal consisting primarily of fried bacon and bannock. Before he left the partner helped Lloyd cut and limb a tree creating a pole which was then hauled up into two trees and tied in place between them.

            When the partner had left Lloyd threw a length of rope over the suspended pole. He tied one end of the rope to the extra pack and hauled it high then tied off the other end of the rope to one of the supporting trees. This is a temporary method of creating a cache safe from marauders that has been used by thousands if not millions --- and several times by Lloyd.

            A week later, having staked several claims in the pouring rain and crossing a rain-swollen river Lloyd discovered that his oft used method for a temporary cache had this time failed. In his hurry he had forgotten to wash his hands after creating lunch and the rope he had used was therefore covered with bacon grease. Perhaps not enough to be noticed by a human but Mr. Black Bear found it very tasty. After chewing on the tasty rope for a while the rope broke and Mr. Bear --- perhaps became a convert to the Jewish faith for like those who followed Moses he suddenly found himself gifted with manna from heaven; a bag full of all manner of tasty treats.

Black Bear near Tumbler Ridge

            When Lloyd returned to his cache there was nothing left to make a meal. What had not been eaten by Mr. Bear had been destroyed.

            The native population of North America had several methods for creating caches but didn’t have the same problem as the solitary mountain man. A village by its very existence serves to keep foraging wildlife at bay although stories of unwelcome visitors during particularly rough periods do exist.

Beaver (Dane-zaa ) family near Peace River town 1911
another Dane-zaa camp on the west end of Moberly Lake
At the east end of the lake is a corridor used by Grizzly traveling north and south.

            The lone trapper or the small holding, whether miner, farmer or trapper did not however have sufficient numbers to scare away wolves, bears, coyotes or wild cats. Therefore, if the human in question intends to remain in one place for any length of time it is worth his while to build a permanent cache that can be used year after year and will protect supplies and, in the case of the trapper, the product of his efforts, the pelts.

Ursus arctos horribilis

            Of course there are certain limitation in almost anything. For example, in the case of Ursus arctos horribilis better known as the Grizzly bear they go anywhere and eat anything they want. If your cache is high enough that he can’t tell where that marvelous smell is coming from perhaps he’ll wander off and attack an ant hill. If your cabin is strong enough and the marvelous smells not strong enough to drive him into a  frenzy perhaps he’ll tear up some roots down by the lake. If your cabin or cache is in an area he or she fequents and tempts to destroy, perhaps a move is in order.
            That’s a move on your part. Mrs. Grizzly will not be moving.

Ursus arctos horribilis

            Permanent caches or storage houses were and are built in the trees sometimes as high as fifteen feet. Such a height may not be necessary in summer but may not be enough once there is several feet of snow on the ground. It will appear, should you happen to look up and notice it blending in with the trees, to be a small log cabin tree-house. It will not have any windows and the door will be very strong. On the end where that door is there is a good possibility that the floor will extend beyond the front of the building forming a “porch” to offer a place to load and unload supplies. The roof may be of several materials such as shakes split from local trees, a tarpauline changed every few years or even some material hauled in from “outside”. Access is likely to be via the ladder leaning against the main cabin, but there may be a rope ladder attached to the “porch” or a few cross-pieces attached to one of the supporting trees.

            By the way, Lloyd did make it out to civilization and food. He was exhausted, wet, cold, and tired. He had pushed himself in many ways he should have known to avoid, but he made it to a ranch and then back to town. I see one of his collection of stories on Amazon and others can be found at Bill’s News, 250-782-2933. There are also many great treasures at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery, 250-782-2601.

            Another one of the places where you can find my novels but you can also click on the book covers to the right or go to where you can "look inside the book."

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dangerous days for travelers

Here is an excerpt from page 6 to page 14 of my novel “Partners”.  The reader has just ‘met’ the ‘old’ (he’s 36) educated one, Tom Brash and he, along with the reader is about to meet the young, boorish, impulsive one, Frank Clement.

He was well into the Cypress Hills now, and climbing. Despite the heat and tired horses he altered his course and angled up the hill. From up on top he might be able to see something that would indicate the location of the lakes. Perhaps he would cross the trail of some animal going to water. Seeing a grove of trees might also help, for many trees could not grow without some water.
Pausing for a moment he turned and looked back toward the south east. Although he had been in this wide open land for more than a month he still was not used to the vastness. Distance seemed to contract, and what appeared to be a hundred yards would prove to be five hundred.
The climb was much steeper and longer than he had anticipated, but he did finally approach the top of the hill. Before he crested the ridge however, he heard a murmur that he thought might be human voices.
His mount stopped when he dropped the reins. He stepped back beside the animal and drew a Colt revolving shotgun from the scabbard that hung down from the cantle. With the scatter gun in his hands he continued up the slope, cautiously scanning the country as he moved forward. He knew that he might meet full blood Indians who would not be as friendly as the Métis’ he had camped with. The Assiniboine, Cree and Blackfoot all claimed these Cypress Hills as their own. None of them looked kindly on those who might trespass, but those who met the Blackfoot seldom complained about poor treatment. If they did object it was only to their captors just before they died.
The voices grew more distinguishable as he advanced, though he could still not understand any words.
A shot rang out so close that Brash dropped to his knees thinking for an instant that it had been aimed at him. A scream was cut short by the sound of a blow. Tom dropped to his stomach and crawled to the top of the ridge where he could look into the hollow beyond.
A lake lay before him, perhaps the very one he sought, one arm of it disappearing off to the left. Directly below him on the shore of that lake were the remains of a camp that had been destroyed. A small teepee lay torn and scattered through the remains of a cooking fire and utensils. The body of an Indian man lay tied to the remains of a travois frame, a hole near the center of his bare chest, and blood staining the earth beneath him. Another form from which Brash thought he could hear moans - and guessed was a woman by what he could see of her dress - lay near the bound corpse. The camp was bordered by the lake and the hill, and by thick stands of aspen and willow which gave way near the water to wide strips of cracked and drying mud.
Two men also stood in the clearing. Each of them wore full, dark brown beards and buckskins, the clothing showing as much grease and almost as dark as the face hair. One wore a battered felt hat, his leggings tucked into high topped riding boots. The other wore a fur cap, the ear lugs tied together on top, his feet in moccasins which extended to just below his knee. The one with the felt hat held a rifle in his left hand, and a coil of rope in his right. Fur Hat had just finished loading his rifle and was removing the ramrod.
“Well, I reckon we isn’t gonna have any more fun with the Injun,” Felt Hat commented.
Fur Hat cursed. “Wasn’t much fun in ‘im, Seth. Got more out o’ watchin’ his chest blow up.”
Seth poked the moaning bundle with the toe of his mule-ear adorned boots. “Well, mayhap Mrs. Injun’ll be more entertainin’.”
“Nope!” a new voice announced.
Both men spun to see a slight figure step from the trees. From his perch high above, Brash saw a boy of perhaps fifteen in cloths that were little more than rags. He wore no hat and his hair was a long, snarled mess. A piece of rope was tied around his waist to hold his pants up, but just under it was a gun belt. The right side of his too-large coat was hooked behind the butt of a large holstered revolver. In his hands he held a rifle, thumb on the hammer and finger on the trigger.
“What’s yer prob’em, boy?” Seth asked.
The boy nodded at the moaning bundle. “No more hittin’,” he announced.
Fur Hat grinned. “Well, she ain’t no use then, is she?” He cocked his rifle and swung the muzzle.
The boy cocked his rifle and swung it toward Fur Hat.
“Look out, Hank,” Seth called.
Before Brash could even realize that what he had thought was a rope was actually a bull whip, Seth flicked it toward the boy. The very end of the braided rawhide snapped around the barrel of the boy’s rifle. Seth jerked and the rifle landed in the dirt.
Hank laughed. Seth grinned and brought the whip back, swinging it over his head for another strike at the boy. A shot rang out and the whip flew from his hand.
The boy stood with a smoking pistol in his hands.
Brash knew his eyes had been on Seth and the whip, but the appearance of the weapon was a shock. Apparently it was also a shock for Seth and Hank. Seth was doubled over holding his ringing right hand between his legs, eyes large and round, and fixed on the smoking muzzle. Hank’s eyes were similarly fixed, his thumb still holding the hammer of his rifle at half cock.
“Hammer down,” the boy instructed.
Hank gently released the hammer.
Seth took his hand from between his thighs and shook it violently. “He ain’t fast enough to shoot us both,” he concluded. He still held his rifle in his left hand.
On the ridge above, Brash realized that at least twenty feet separated Seth and Hank. Even for someone as fast and accurate as the boy appeared to be it would be difficult to stop both men before he was himself hit by someone’s return fire. Brash also suspected that there was a great deal of luck involved in the shot that took the whip from Seth’s hand.
“You first,” the boy announced, his revolver pointed at Seth.
Hank smiled. “Then you second,” he said swinging the muzzle around toward the boy.
“I believe you may be second.” Brash did not know what made him call out. One of the things that had forced him from his home was well meaning people who, after the death of his family, constantly demanded that he communicate with them, and here he was getting involved with people he didn’t even know. What he had just witnessed, however, was brutal, and the boy needed help. He shoved the muzzle of his shotgun over the hill and into view.
In the clearing, Hank had stopped the swing of his rifle. Seth had started to raise his own weapon and the weight of it against his left wrist was starting to make his arm tremble.
“Put ‘em down,” the boy said.
Seth and Hank leaned over and carefully placed their weapons on the ground.
“Short guns an’ knives,” the boy said.
Two large Bowie knives, a Colt, and a Smith and Wesson revolver hit the ground.
The boy pointed with his chin. “Over by the Injun,” he commanded.
Both men walked backward until they stood near the corpse.
Still holding his pistol, the boy retrieved the weapons. The knives he left on the ground. One pistol he put in his own holster, the other behind his rope belt. The rifles he picked up with one finger looped through their trigger guards. His eyes never leaving the two men he returned to the edge of the clearing, leaning the rifles against a tree.
The pistol at his waist was a Smith and Wesson. He broke it open, dumped the cartridges on the ground, and then threw it to land near the knives. “Stand,” he ordered, then exchanged his own weapon for the one that had been in his holster. It too was a Colt, so he used the tool from his gun belt to pull the caps from the nipples, then threw the weapon to land by the Smith.
Still facing Hank and Seth so he could keep an eye on them while he worked, the boy turned to work on the rifles. The first was a Springfield .58, muzzle loader so he simply pointed it over the lake, cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger. Throwing the empty weapon to land near the pistols and knives, he raised the other rifle. It was a Spencer similar to his own so he opened the loading tube in the stock and dumped the rim fire cartridges on the ground, then worked the action to eject the one in the chamber. He threw the Spencer to land by the Springfield.
With his chin the boy indicated the pile of weapons, then the horses. “Mount up,” he advised. The heel of his hand rested on his holstered Colt.
Hank and Seth looked at each other then slowly and carefully picked up their rifles.
As he picked up the Smith and Wesson, Seth eyed the cartridges that lay on the ground at the boy’s feet. “Them car’ ridges is hard t’ get,” he complained.

“Rough,” the boy replied

Keeping an eye on the boy the two men moved quickly toward their horses. In turn the boy didn’t fall too far behind them, watching to ensure they took only their own mounts and pack horse.
On the ridge above, Tom Brash rose and returned to his own animals. With reins in hand he led his mount over the hill and down into the campsite, the pack animals following readily.
Having just watched the two men ride away the boy returned to the camp site, but did not acknowledge Brash’s existence. Instead he went to the Indian woman and rolled her over on her back. Her left eye flew open and her arm came up over her face.
The boy squeezed her shoulder gently. “Won’t hurt yuh,” the boy said.
Tom could see a bad cut on the right side of her forehead that was already causing that eye to swell and close. The left side of her mouth and left cheek were also swollen and discolored.
“I have some medical supplies,” Brash announced.
The boy looked up at him and nodded.
Tom removed his bandanna and held it out to the boy. “Perhaps you could take this to the lake and get it wet? We will need to wash her off before we bandage her.”
The boy nodded again, took the bandanna and rose. Tom turned to his horses to retrieve bandages.
As he reached into the pack about where he knew his medical supplies to be, a scream came from behind him that made the horse jump. He turned to see the woman sitting up and looking at the dead man, her hands over her mouth. The boy was running back from the shore.
The woman jerked sideways and fell over the body of the man just before Brash heard the sound of a shot. Both he and the boy looked to Seth and Hank, who were in the relatively open area along the lake perhaps two hundred yards away. Hank held his Springfield over the limb of a tree, smoke still rising from the barrel. In the silence following the shot they could hear the two men laugh.
The boy cursed, threw the wet bandana on the ground and picked up his Spencer. Hank and Seth sprinted for their horses.

From this point on Tom and Frank have to avoid being silenced by Hank and Seth, relatives of the victims (Blackfoot) who want to issue penalties for the deaths, and a sociopath looking to build his own kingdom in Western Canada. At the same time they still have to deal with the same things that all other travelers deal with every day such as the weather and attacks that are not specifically targeted at anyone in particular.
Can they put up with each other long enough to keep each other alive?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Penalty Ranch

An integral part of who I am.

 On the left a wild cow milking after the branding and on the right an iron horse collar used to ensure an exact fit when the horse shows signs of "galling" due to an inexact fit. Harness collars are usually made in "standard" sizes and not made to fit an individual horse. All those who have bought "Small" "Medium" or "Large" coat will understand that their coat fit just as well as the horse collar fit the horse.
These are the only Penalty pics I have but there are many more in the collection below.

            I’ve mentioned in several places that I spent some time repairing fence, putting up hay, herding cattle, stooking (grain) bundles, riding the range and other work associated with agriculture in Western Canada. The most memorable of those jobs was four months during the summer of 1964 on the Penalty Ranch. I herded 21 Hereford bulls the summer before on a neighboring ranch and have helped out in other places but that summer (and a few visits the following year) became and integral part of who I am.
            The name “Penalty” was from the owner and boss, René Dhenin who informed all, visitor or employee, that doing something lazy, thoughtless, or dumb would gain one a penalty such as cleaning out a stable, hoeing the garden or some other unpleasant but necessary task that he might create. Those actions which might warrant a penalty included miss-treating animals, leaving a gate open or dropping paper/trash on the ground.
            I was never found guilty of a penalty offence but I did have to shovel out the horse barn. Sometimes it isn’t possible to convince someone to perform poorly but the work still has to be done.
            That summer I did work that I (usually) wanted to do, ate more than my weight on most days, and made less money than I’ve ever made. But it was the best job I ever had. It put me into great physical shape, I was able to work with and ride horses and I met and talked to some of the Peace Country’s early pioneers.
            Many young men and women spent time at the Penalty. Brian Clarke of Fort St. John was one. Ron Yipp of the same city was another. All have gone on to other lives, other work and other places. Truck drivers, business owners, accountants, advertising – pick something and there is probably someone in that business who once worked on the Penalty or some other ranch.
            One of those is Ron Yipp mentioned above. I believe his brother introduced me to Ron sometime during the ‘60s but we didn’t actually “know” each other. However Ron spent far more time than I on the Penalty and also rode and camped with René on several occasions. I have recently connected with Ron on the digital air-ways and he has forwarded something to me that is a great treasure.
            Over the years I’ve managed to keep many of the Penalty memories but most of the pictures I took have been lost. Every move from the Peace Country, to Vancouver, Haggersville, Jarvis, Oshawa, Windsor, Calgary, Fort Saskatchewan and back to the Peace Country has cost me some physical piece of the past.
            Here is a collection of Ron’s pictures from the Penalty showing some great times and some great scenery. I’ve taken some stops from the assembly to allow explanation for the viewer.
            Ignore the request for a free account, (X it out) and click play.

At the beginning a picture of the boat coming to the ranch from the landing at “Old” Fort St. John.  (North side of the river to the South side)
A picture of the ranch buildings taken from the boat.
At 0:12 the river and North Peace bank from the buildings
The tractors and fuel tanks (filled in those days in the winter by crossing the ice.) Beside those are two wagons/sleighs used to feed the cattle in winter with one of the teams of horses.
At 0:33 a picture of the Peace River from one of the upper flats … probably the “Breeding Pasture”
At 0:36 George McLaughlin (seated) and René Dhenin (note the canvas hat; he and it will appear throughout)
The only truck on the place except for those few times someone drove north from Chetwynd on the Jackfish Lake Rd. On more than one occasion that included a stock trailer or stock rack which absconded with Penalty Ranch beef. A few rustlers were caught.
0:43 Ron Yipp, immediately recognized as one of the good guys. He has a white hat after all.
0:44 Ron and René
1:17 The railroad bridge across the Peace just downriver from the ranch buildings and viewed from the edge of the “Breeding Pasture”
Several pictures of the branding including images of the “Genuine Chinese Cowboy”, Ron Yipp.
After the branding, a wild cow milking competition.
The “medical treatment” of a horse. Undoubtedly being “fixed”
Followed by great grub prepared while the branding was in progress.
At about 2:27 Ron’s father, George Yipp.

There is also a pic of Ron’s brother (Ken) and sister (Sheila) in there toward the end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

“Partners” rhyme – an overview

Barkerville about 1865

Here is a rhyme covering some of the story that appears in the novel “Partners”. No, it is not about the current trend to marry members of the same gender.
Wagon and three up on Cariboo Road

I suppose it could be likened to some of the couples one sees, of all genders, who, at first glance one might suspect have no business uniting. Some do make a viable couple and some do not.
This is a rhyme of six stanzas and therefore cannot cover all that is presented in a story of 246 pages which includes references to the wide Canadian Prairies, murder, genocide, renegades/outlaws, “manifest destiny”, Cree and Blackfoot, the early assassination of a policeman (murder again), vigilantes, gold mining, and self defense. It does give a fair idea of how I started the story; the unlikely joining of young and old, tenderfoot and “cheekako”, diplomat and attacker.
Calvenos Claim on Lowhee Creek

The video (not the best of those available but not the worst) trailer is at 
And the novel itself can be found by clicking on the “Partners” cover off to the right.
Or at at Barnes & Nobel, Indigo and Cole’s
It, as with my other novels is also available in a variety of digital formats.
The reason for the Barkerville pictures is that is where the story ends … and the one I’m working on with the same characters and some new troubles, begins.
            As always, leave a comment. Even if you don’t like what you read I’d like to know about it and why.

“Partners” overview
By D.M. McGowan

He was an educated man, Thomas Brash by name
Raised for the British Army to follow his father’s fame
Born in Upper Canada, the eastern Loyalist land
Then sent across the sea, military school, England

He had served in several stations, Europe, Africa and such
But found the land of Hind demanded just too much.
He left the British Army returned to his Kingston home
Taught school, married and farmed and vowed no more to roam

But fate stepped in to change the future he had planned,
Cholera took the family, he burned the house, left the land.
He wandered to the west perhaps thinking life was done
More than thirty years of effort and everything was gone.

But out there on the plains he found someone he could help
Perhaps some master plan? He’d play the cards he was dealt.
Two wandering strangers as different as they could be
Can each survive the other’s thoughts and company?

Renegades, Blackfoot and psychopaths they face
The elements alone are hard on the human race
Indian wars and killers, all the across the west
Such is their future where simple living is a test.

From different places and different teachings
Perhaps these two are over reaching
But it takes bold people to build a land
And different ideas build one that stands
Mucho Oro Claim
Pulling over for traffic on the Cariboo Road ...
Which usually necessitated a visit 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Eliminate fossil fuel use in 17 years?


This was one of the methods of transport and commercial delivery in t he 1860s
We don't do it that way anymore because it was slow, hard on horses and people, and much more cost efficient with an internal combustion engine.
Logging - a very big log - with International Truck in the 1950s
Now we have few logs this large and trucks much larger and with 6 times the power. And far more environmentally friendly.

I am tired of groups destroying advancement or progress and not being held accountable for their actions.

          I’m sure some will remember the attack made on the emotions of world population regarding seal hunting in the North Atlantic. Pictures designed to create the maximum sympathy from humans and yes, horrific sights. No scientific figures or environmental information was presented, just unsupported, heart-stabbing pictures. By purposely omitting pertinent information it was easy for a small group to create world wide support and thus power for themselves. Some members of the instigating groups involved went on to live very comfortable life styles and some even enjoyed excellent tax-payer funded incomes.
          The end of the North Atlantic seal hunt, along with the Canadian Coast Guard failing to halt pouching caused the North Atlantic fishery to collapse.
          The innocent bystanders – the fishermen from many countries – paid the price. Those who caused the destruction did not pay but moved on to new “causes” which increased their profile and thus their power.
          One of those “causes” was nuclear power. With pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to show the destruction possible attempts where made – at the cost of lives – to stop the proliferation of the most environmentally friendly power production possible. No one made attempts to explain that nuclear bombs and nuclear power have very little to do with each other. The nuclear waste produced by power plants was blown all out of proportion giving many the idea that we could not dispose of it or store it safely. Yes, perhaps we will need to find a way to store it or shoot it into space … in a thousand years.
          The destruction caused by this unsupported bad attitude toward nuclear power in this case was two-fold. First the world used coal powered electrical production for twenty years longer than necessary. (Some areas still use it.) Second, two nuclear plants where built either without proper safety procedures or on a very poor site. A third, in Northern Ontario was producing twenty years after it should have been shut down.
          Meanwhile, quietly, hundreds of nuclear plants produce power world wide without any environmental damage. And while it becomes increasingly difficult for those who actually produce … those who make the world work and improve … to pay for that improvement (including electric bills) the drones continue to increase their power and income on the backs of those producers. Groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace continue to look good in the short term, destroy everything in the long term and never pay for their actions.
Bulley Glacier, one of those disappearing due to climate change which is also amplified by a cyclic upturn in temperature.

          Now we have a new group, (Undoubtedly full of some of the same people who populated earlier destructive groups.) called the “Food & Water Action.”
          Has a nice sound, doesn’t it? Gives one the idea that if you don’t listen to their message you won’t have anything to eat or drink. However, if you actually read some of their propaganda and exercise a little logic you will see that if you DO listen to their message you WON’T have food or drink.
          They are advocating the elimination of fossil fuels in seventeen years. That is, by 2035. That is far more destructive than anything I’ve had to put up with in my lifetime. Due to my age I won’t have to put up with the resultant destruction, but some of you will.
          Yes, if anyone is paying even the slightest attention to world events it is obvious (as my father used to say, “To anyone with half an eye and an as….”) that climate change is a fact. Yes, we need to make some changes to the way we operate if we expect that our decedents be able to live on this planet.
Banff, Alberta

          Here is the bad news; there is very little we can do about it. Paying more taxes (on carbon emissions, for example) will change nothing except give politicians more money to throw around (and look good in the short term) to, again, change nothing. It has taken more than a hundred years to create this mess and we certainly won’t change it back to the environment of 1800 in the next seventeen, or even fifty years.
          The first logical step is to change along with the climate. Move crop and livestock production north with the climate for example. We still need to eat.
Gimili goats, Valhalla Provincial Park

          Yes we can reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence of fossil fuels. We have already reduced coal consumption by a great deal. We could eliminate coal use in a very few years by switching completely to natural gas. Other than nuclear, natural gas is by far the cleanest means of production with existing technology. With natural gas we can continue to improve nuclear production and increase wind and solar power.
          Those two production methods have already improved dramatically and it appears as if they will be the way of the future. Today one can hook an electric car to a solar panel and be ready to drive again in eight or ten hours. Ten years ago that would have taken a week. There have been marked improvements in electric autos, but the biggest change has been in the efficiency of the solar panel. I expect they will be even more efficient in another ten years and hope to see it if I live that long.
          Wind turbines are also vastly improved. Those produced ten years ago where just efficient enough to warrant their purchase and installation economically when comparing their life expectancy against life production. Their service and maintenance costs where, of course a consideration in that calculation. Today’s turbine efficiency is much better and improving almost daily with maintenance costs much lower.
wind farm near Dawson Creek, BC

          Transportation is another area that has improved greatly in ten years. Available electric and hybrid autos are still too expensive for most, and their efficiency is still a question but they do prove it is possible. Commercial transport, the movement of goods (such as food and water) is still not economically viable. From what I have read about attempts to produce electric powered trucks we in the North might expect garden produce to reach us in the next ten years at roughly five times the present price.
          We don’t make that kind of money and we all like to eat.
          Can we eliminate fossil fuel use in 17 years? Absolutely not! A pleasant dream certainly but one that is physically impossible. Attempting to realize that dream in such a short time will be destructive mentally for the individual and economically for the world.
          “Food & Water Action’s” campaign will destroy the lives of billions. Supporting the group means supporting the destruction much as supporting WWF and Greenpeace supported destruction.
          Here is a quote from one of F&WA’s publications: “And yet, science tells us that we'll see the worst of climate chaos if we do not act now.”
          Says who? I don’t see such information from any scientific body nor do I see any information that states we can make big changes.
          In another publication they mention “dangerous fossil fuel projects”. By what criteria are they sited as dangerous? All production of any type contains danger and requires adherence to safety protocols. Traversing two hundred miles of highway traffic is undoubtedly more dangers than eight hours on a “fossil fuel” production site.
          F&WA condemns out of hand pipeline construction and use. Does that mean they would rather have crude oil, produced water (containing H2S), condensate, Diesel fuel, gasoline, and natural gas transported by truck or train? Perhaps they haven’t seen the destruction caused by derailments or truck roll-overs? Perhaps they haven’t had an opportunity to compare those spills against the miniscule amounts in pipeline leaks?
          On the other hand, supporting the US Federal ministers and other countries governing bodies who are presently attempting to destroy the environment also supports destruction.
          Can we manage it in fifty years? Probably, but only with the use of fossil fuels (hopefully mostly natural gas and nuclear) to create those items – electric automobiles, solar panels and wind and wave turbines – that we need to realize that dream.
          We can not eliminate the use of fossil fuels without the use of fossil fuels!
          Even with these moves away from fossil fuels we can not reverse climate change! Can we stop climate change? Not a snowballs chance in hell! Can we slow climate change? Probably to a point where we don’t even notice it.
          In the mean time, let’s learn a better way to live with it.