November 14 & 15: Valerie Laub

November 14 & 15: Two People With Cards in Their Hands

Valerie Laub


Two People With Cards in Their Hands

Two people with cards in their hand and poker chips piled on a small table.
They play their cards and move the poker chips between them as they play.
A long pause as X stares intently at his/her cards and Y stares impatiently at X.

Y: Today.

(X glances at Y)

Y: Today!

X: Hold your oil drums.

Y: Oh, very ‘ha’.

X: Let’s see, you played 1,177 kilometers?

Y: Yes. Yes. 1,177 “rational and respectful” kilometers.

X: How can a kilometer be rational and respectful?

Y: (picks up a card from the table). It says it right here: “1177 rational and respectful kilometers.”

X: But…

Y: Oh, just play!

X: Okay. Okay. (Slaps a card down) 1,000 irrational and disrespected rivers and salmon spawning streams

Y: Not fair. (grabs some chips from X’s pile)

X: Whaddya mean ‘not fair’? (grabs them back)

Y: “Irrational and disrespected rivers.” (grabs them again)

X: Makes more sense than rational and respectful kilometers. (grabs them back)

Y: Anyway, that’s two cards.

X: No it’s not.

Y: And streams don’t spawn salmon. They are just the habitat where salmon spawn.(tries to take some chips from X’s pile but X defends his/her chips. Y plays a card) 525,000 barrels a day.

X: (plays a card) Wild salmon economy of the Skeena Watershed worth $110 million a year. Sustainable. (takes some chips back)

Y: (card) 500 plus jobs, long-term. (takes chips)

X: Assuming the Earth survives long-term.

Y: Oh, don’t be ridiculous. Of course the Earth will survive.

X: Yeah, but humankind may not. Climate change. Mega-storms. Islands and coast-lines disappearing under rising oceans. Drought. Water refugees.

Y: Pessimist. (takes a pile of chips from X’s pile)

X: (takes the chips back) Tar sands create 3-5 times more green house gas emissions than conventional oil extraction (grabs more chips). By 2020 greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands will be almost double the present emissions of all cars and trucks in Canada. (grabs more chips) 3 million barrels of drinking water are lost everyday to the production of tar sands oil.

Y: You are such a sourpuss. Harper is all for it. (realizes what he/she has said and pushes a pile of chips towards X)

X: Thank you. (plays a card) 1606 dead ducks.

Y: (stares) What do ducks have to do with anything?

X: Landed on a tailings pond …. 1606 dead ducks.

Y: That was years ago.

X: Right. There will be more dead ducks than that by now.

Y: Who cares about a bunch of dead ducks?

X: Flock.

Y: What????

X: Bunch of grapes. Flock of ducks. Dead ducks.

Y: (slaps down a card. shouts) JOBS!

X: Penalty. (takes a pile of chips) You already played that card.

Y: (scrabbles after some chips) I did not. It’s a different card. These are other jobs. (X stares) Short-term jobs.

X: Perfect. Destroy the Earth for short-term jobs. (grabs more chips. they fight over the chips. then X slaps down a card) Oil spills.

Y: There aren’t going to be any oil spills.

X: (slapping down a card with each statistic) The year 2000: 49 spills. 2001: 34 spills. 2002: 48 spills. 2003: 62. 2004: 69. 2005: 70. 2006: 61. 2007: 65. 2008: 80. 2009: 103. 2010: 80.
Totaling 132,715 barrels of oil spilt between 2000 and 2010.

Y: Those were accidents!

X: Exactly. (takes a lot of chips) Pipeline spills. (card) Tanker disasters.

Y: (card) Double-hulled. (card) Piloted. (card) A nice safe route.

X: A nice safe route! Through the Douglas Channel!!!!! (card) Severe winter weather conditions. (card) Hurricane force winds.

Y: Why are we talking about ships? (reaches for some chips but X slaps his/her hand away) This game is about a pipeline.

X: A pipeline carrying oil which will then be SHIPPED by SHIP along our presently pristine coastline.

Y: (places a card down with a superior smirk) In regards to the pipeline: and I quote, “In the UNLIKELY event of a spill.” Unquote.

X: What?

Y: What?

X: In the “unlikely” event of a spill… what?

Y: (looks at the card) That’s all it says.

X: Right. Cause in the “unlikely event of a spill” there’s not really anything effective we can do. (takes a pile of chips)

Y: (slaps down a card) State of the art computer modeling.

X: Good for the computers. What about the land? The rivers? (takes more chips)

Y: (Card) A swift and decisive spill response.

X: And what would that be?

Y: I don’t know. (X stares pointedly at Y) The card doesn’t say.

X: Right. (takes a pile of chips) Bitumen is sticky stuff, sinks to the bottom and there you have it. Recovery is considered respectful, I mean successful, when only 15% of the oil gets cleaned up. We can kiss our river and streams, our drinking water and salmon good-bye.

Y: You’re just being petty.

X: (slaps down card after card) napthenic acid. alkyl-substituted polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

Y: Penalty!

X: (continues slapping down cards unperturbed) mercury. arsenic. heavy metals, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, silver and zinc.

Y: Some of those are precious metals. Silver!

X: Yeah, in your drinking water.

Y: I drink bottled water.

X: So do the people of Fort Chipewyan. NOW. (card) Poisons leaching into the MacKenzie River.

Y: Wait a minute! Just cause you don’t like the idea of a pipeline doesn’t mean other people agree with you.

X: Two-thirds of British Columbian’s are opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline.
(Y makes a dismissive sound) 83% are concerned about the risk of an oil spill. (takes a pile of chips) First Nations opposition.

Y: (defensively) So? Doesn’t mean a thing. As long as Harper is keen on the tar sands and the pipeline and shipping the crude to China, as long as he sees Canada as the next great oil state, it doesn’t matter what the people of British Columbia want. So what if it wrecks the climate and makes the Earth uninhabitable? So what?

(X stares at Y. After a moment Y pushes the rest of his/her chips over to X)