Date: March 30, 2007
Origin: The Telegram

This is the third March in a row that no pack ice has flowed into Conception Bay.

Perhaps I speak too soon. Maybe tomorrow we'll wake up and look out the window, and from the cove to Bell Island and as far as can be seen down the bay toward Holyrood and as far as can be seen up the bay toward Baccalieu Island will be white with gleaming chunks of pack ice, just like in the good old days prior to 2005. But I doubt it.

Icebergs used to float into our neighbourhood all the time. They'd leisurely drift through the Tickle, sometimes staying for two or three weeks. Occasionally, an iceberg would take up residence at the mouth of the cove and stick around for a few days, before being whisked away by the tides or currents.

A few years ago, a fair-sized iceberg had been parked in the cove for several days. One morning, still half asleep, I peeked out the window to check the weather, and a chill went down my spine. The iceberg had rolled in the night. Its shape had utterly changed, and three huge, icy fingers rose out of the water, like a gigantic trident emerging from the deep.

The icebergs were very popular. People driving through town would pull over to the side of the road to take a longer look, just like they do in summer to watch the whales.

Once, during a stroll up the road, we met a couple sitting on some rocks, enjoying the view of a small iceberg 100 feet or so offshore. They were thrilled. They were amazed. They were from Quebec. Here's a tip for the provincial Tourism Department and its "branding" bureau: icebergs are a lot more attractive than the pitcher plant.

Missing monoliths

We haven't seen an iceberg in Conception Bay since 2004. I blame Torontonians. And Vancouverites. And Berliners. And whatever residents of Amsterdam call themselves - Amsterdammers, I suppose.

Each spring, people in these cities pull off some anti-seal-hunt stunt or another and get lots of media attention and lots of donations to their cause. They are representative of an ironic twist in the newly invigorated environmental movement: the further people are removed from the natural world, the more passionately they are concerned for it.

This week, a spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare said global warming has prevented ice from forming in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the federal government should close the seal hunt there.

"There is wide open water and almost no seals," he was quoted as saying in The Telegram.

Uh-huh. Wide open water, hey? Think about that for a moment, mister. Focus.

Never mind the pros and cons of the seal hunt. The fact that so many people spend so much time and energy and money opposing it while ignoring a far larger dilemma reveals a strange paradox about life in our modern world: destroyers may pose as saviours. Live in a big city, with all the pollution that necessarily entails, but save the planet by putting recyclables on the curb.
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