History and Future

‘Old people think of the past, the young ones look to the future,’ Camp said when I took my seat at the pub for our weekly beer and chat. He seemed unusually pensive this evening.

‘I guess you’re right but mind you, grandparents think of the future.’

‘They worry about it but their thoughts more often then not wander into the past, their personal history mostly. ‘

‘Clare likes looking at pictures from the past. It’s called nostalgia. For me it’s the history that fascinates me. Roman and European history mostly, and even the local, indigenous history, but not so much the recent past like the sixties and seventies. I was there after all,’ I said.

‘There is a sad and informative graphic exhibit at the Raven’s Cry, the ‘Tems Swiya’ Museum’ in Sechelt called: Tears of the Past.  It’s about the local residential school which housed kids from 48 B.C. First Nations from 1904 – 1975. There is also the history and visual reconstruction of the four 4000 year old skeletons that were found up Salmon Inlet. A 50 year old male and a 28 year old female were accompanied by 350’000 beads which were individually made from clay and slate. Enough beads to fill a bathtub and it would have taken four people 20 years to make them. The oldest artefact displayed at the museum is a 14’000 year old spear point.  Very impressive. You and Clare should go and see it. Also right next to the museum Tony Paul is carving a 34 foot long Reconciliation Pole,’ Camp said.

We both sat quiet for a moment contemplating the universe and our beers.

‘Greta Thunberg didn’t win the Nobel peace price. Instead it went to the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed for resolving the decades long border conflict with Eritrea,’ I said. ‘I guess he saved thousands of lives while Greta has managed to inspire and engage millions of teenagers clamouring for human action to slow down climate change.’

‘Her clarion call could potentially save the human race from premature extinction,’ Camp said. I thought he sounded just a tad cynical.

‘Well yes, we must all do our part.  I had an interesting conversation with our local dry cleaner, whose grandfather opened the business in 2014. According to him dry-cleaning is achieved with a synthetic chemical – Tetrachloroethylene,  – which is also used as an automotive break cleaner. There is one major difference. Dry cleaning is totally over regulated with extensive and expensive transportation and disposal protocols while the same chemical is completely unregulated in the auto industry. Kill the mouse, save the elephant. Also those plastic bags your clean shirt comes in must be biodegradable. ‘No problem, he said, it just adds cost.’

‘You’re full of earth shaking information today. Dry cleaning? To save the world? What next? The climate emergency is approaching hysteria levels these days. Reminds me a bit of the sixties and seventies when everybody built nuke shelters and all the kids had to do nuclear attack drills at school.’

‘That was a single-issue calamity and fear which was mostly alleviated by signing international nuclear and disarmament treaties. Mind you the nuclear clock is still at five to midnight. Every house in Switzerland still has a nuclear concrete shelter in the basement, mostly used for wine cellars these days. On the other hand, soil erosion, toxic emissions and pollution are all man made, resulting in warmer global temperatures which in turn are responsible for species collapsing, and rising sea levels and more extreme weather world wide,’ I said.

‘True but hardly anybody sees the big picture,’ Camp said, waxing philosophically. ‘It’s mostly about feel-good incentives. Take the electric car for example. If you charge it in B.C., the electricity is hydro generated but in California it’s most likely from coal, nuclear or even diesel generators. Then there is the Lithium for the batteries, mined mostly in Chile, where Tesla gets it. Side effects are contaminated ground water their drinking water.’

‘Electric cars will only get better with time and popularity but they don’t work so good in the cold north. I prefer the hybrids. No plug-in and hardly any exhaust and low fuel consumption,’ I said.

‘What about an electric bicycle?’ Camp asked. ‘I thought you and Clare were checking them out.’

‘You have an electric bike?’ Vicky asked as she set down our refills.

‘No, we’re thinking about it,’ I said. ‘ We do live on a  very steep hill and our bicycles are rusting away in the wood shed.’

‘Rich man problems,’ Vicky said.

‘Old man choices,’ I retorted.

‘Lazy man exercise,’ Vicky laughed.

‘Don’t forget to vote on Monday,’ Camp said.


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