it's rare when reading that i'mshaken by revelations that seem worthy of a seer or prophet. Such insights await the reader of Gordon Laird's prophetic Power.Laird's odyssey across this country's grotesquely scarred energy landscape conveys a full sense of the sinister forces in charge of both private investment priorities and public policy in Canada's energy industry.
The variations, associations, divisions, multiplication and complex permutations of this axis of evil -- to appropriate a Bushism -- resemble the spread of a deadly virus or fatal cancer.
It has, like some monstrous creature from the realm of gothic horror, created dead zones from sea to sea. The once pristine Atlantic outpost of Sable Island is now frequently engulfed in pollution plumes. Cape Breton's tar ponds, the toxic legacy of the island's coal industry, ooze poisons that have made areas of the ocean too toxic for edible lobsters and made Sydney harbour devoid of life.
The death of Saskatchewan's Nero Lake, whose waters have been sterilized by uranium contamination, is actually a "benefit" in that it stops radioactive transfers up the food chain.
Laird envisions a new, greener Canadian landscape based on the replacement of ecocidal megaprojects by earth-respecting solutions like energy conservation, micro-hydro, solar and wind power and the use of methane gas from dumps.
His message is urgently needed to convince radical critics that state energy monopolies and trade barriers will not work to heal the planet.
He points out that even basic improvements currently enjoyed by many American states -- like low-sulphur gasoline, local wind power programs, incentives for hybrid cars -- are still years away in most parts of Canada. His is a refreshing, maverick view that breaks with the simplistic solutions championed by the anti-globalization movement.
Laird talks about his ideas Wednesday (February 27) at City Hall (see Readings, page 60).
Power: Journeys Across an Energy Nation by Gordon Laird (Penguin-Viking), 347 pages, $35 cloth. Rating: NNNNN