A Conservative Argument for Environmental Justice

My recent column for the Mennonite Creation Care Network begins like this:

When I was a kid, maybe seven or eight years old, I liked to go fishing on the lake near our family’s Ontario home. A friend and I would hike to a rocky point with room cast the heavy line and lures we used. Sometimes my younger brother and I would row a little boat out into the bay and fish. The best part was that it was just us kids—no adults. The only rule was that we had to wear life jackets. 

A few things stand out to me as I think back on those little fishing expeditions in the 1980s. One is that I expect there was probably more adult supervision than we knew. Our sense of freedom was complete, but I doubt we were really out of sight for very long. The second thing, which I knew nothing of at the time, was that the place we fished was part of a horrifically polluted watershed. We lived just outside of Dryden, Ontario, home to a pulp mill and, at one time, a chemical plant. According to the province, in the 1960s and 70s the pulp and paper operation dumped “around 10 metric tonnes of mercury” into the Wabigoon River. A paper published last year in The Lancet Planetary Health called this “one of the worst environmental disasters in Canadian history.” 

The full column full piece can be found on the MCCN website.

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