Questions on growth & power in a weather-worn world

Last Wednesday morning – January 10th, 2018

View of the rising sun . . .


Morning sun over the lake, Jan 10, 2018 - bruce witzel photo


Come, you lost atoms to your centre draw near and be the eternal mirror you saw.

Rays that have wondered into darkness wide, back into your sun, subside.

 Sufi poet, Attar



Growth and Power 


Humanity has harnessed water power since earliest civilization. Dams have changed the natural flow of rivers to run mills, control flooding and provide irrigation and water.


Water power mill at Saint Catharines Ontario - bruce witzel photo

  Water mill near St. Catharines, Ontario – bruce witzel photo


In the Great Depression of the 1930’s large hydro electric projects were built to create power for homes and industry and hence, a multitude of jobs for the American people. The developed world’s lifestyle is largely based on using vast amounts of power.

Although hydro-electricity is considered a renewable energy source, it comes with an ecological cost – flooded valleys and loss of habitat, farmland and ways of life.

There’s pros and there’s cons to all forms of power. 


Rosevelt Dam in Arizona - bruce witzel photo

Roosevelt Dam – bruce witzel photo 


Site C on the Peace River


Here in British Columbia controversy has developed over construction of a 3rd large dam on the Peace River, known as Site C. It will be the most expensive public megaproject in Canadian history. When construction began in 2015 it was estimated to cost 8.7 billion dollars. 

On June 29, 2017 the freshly elected New Democratic Party formed the provincial government. This ended16 years of Liberal Party rule. Then in fall of 2017 the BC Utilities Commission were ordered to do a special review of the Site C dam. 


Aerial view of the inlet cofferdam, the south bank excavation, and Moberly River for Site C (September 2017) - photographer unknown

Site C dam, September 2017 – photographer unknown


On December 11, 2017 the BC Premier John Horgan announced that his government would reluctantly continue the project, but that it was now predicted to cost 10.7 billion dollars. In typical political fashion he blamed the previous government.


Screen Capture of Site-C Hydro-electric project on the Peace River, BC


Reactions were swift. Many business groups and trade organizations lauded the decision – other groups did not.


Kwatsistah - North West Coast Vancouver Island - francis guenette photo 

Kwatsisthah Totem on North West Vancouver Island – Bruce Witzel photo


Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, immediately released a strong condemnation:


“We are truly shocked at the callous disregard for the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples, despite the Premier’s acknowledgement of what is at stake… 

The Premier knew coming into office that flooding the Peace River Valley would be profoundly destructive for the Dunne-Za and Cree peoples whose histories and cultures are inseparable from that land…

He (Premier Horgan) has even acknowledged that construction of the Site C dam would violate Canada’s legal obligations under Treaty 8. The fact that he would allow the destruction of the Peace River Valley despite such serious concerns is a blatant betrayal of his government’s commitments to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”


Children overlooking the Peace River - photographer unknown

    Children overlooking the Peace River Valley – photographer unknown


Another contentious issue surrounding the dam is the question, does the province actually need the power? An opinion editorial published by Dermond Travis, the executive director of Integrity BC, points this out:

“B.C. consumed 62,467 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2010. Last year, it had jumped to 62,951 gigawatt-hours, an increase of 0.8 per cent, In 1996… we consumed 64,664 gigawatt-hours of electricity. By 2016, B.C.’s population had grown to 4.75 million, there were 468,000 more households (than in 1996)… and we consumed 1,713 less gigawatt-hours…  In 15 of the last 20 years, we’ve used less electricity than we did in 1996.”


This has come about from energy conservation and better efficiency standards. The public electrical utility, BC Hydro, has an aggressive Power Smart program. Even so, they have repeatedly overestimated long term demand for power in British Columbia. 



The Road Less Travelled


The powers that be tell us that the Site C damn, and indeed all destructive energy mega-projects, are simply about supply and demand. I believe it’s something profoundly different.

In 1976 the physicist and energy policy analyst Amory Lovins coined the term soft energy path to describe a future where energy efficiency and appropriate renewable energy sources steadily replace a centralized system based on fossil and nuclear fuels.


Solar powered home near Carbondale Colorado (2) Oct. 2016 - bruce witzel photo

                        A solar powered home in Carbondale, Colorado – bruce witzel photo, Oct. 2016


Here is Amory Lovins take on the matter:


“The energy problem, according to conventional wisdom, is how to increase energy supplies to meet projected demands. The solution to this problem is familiar: ever more remote and fragile places are to be ransacked, at ever greater risk and cost…

We must… take care to preserve resilience and flexibility, and to design for larger safety margins… recognizing the existence of human fallibility, malice, and irrationality (including our own) and of the present trends that erode the earth’s carrying capacity.”


Looking west off Alberta Highway 22 (2)- the cowboy trail - Bruce Witzel photo

  Alberta Rockies near Longview – bruce witzel photo


“People are more important than goods; hence, technology, and economic activity are means, not ends, and their quantity is not a measure of welfare…

The energy problem should be not how to expand supplies to meet the postulated extrapolated needs of a dynamic economy, by rather how to accomplish social goals elegantly with a minimum of energy and effort, meanwhile taking care to preserve social fabric that not only tolerates but encourages diverse values and lifestyles.”


From the introduction of Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace, 

by Amory Lovins –1977 


This Weather-worn World


The earth is at a turning point. Past U.S president Jimmy Carter said it early in his administration way back in 1976: 

“We must face the prospect of changing our basic way of living. This change will be made on our own initiative in a planned and rational way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature.”

PE (Professional Engineer) Magazine Dec. 1976, pg. 9 


  From Desmog Blog                                                                                                                                           

                                                                        photo compliments of DeSmog Blog


Now four decades have past and the world is witnessing this change – some good and some bad.


On the day before Site C’s continued construction was announced, I read a blogpost from lens and pens by sally entitled (in part) Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty, (by Sally W. Donatella click the purple for the link).

Along with 2 beautiful photos, she begins by saying:

One cannot think of climate change without its partner the weather. And the weathering of our hearts is just as affected by the myriad of weather-related altercations that are becoming more and more prevalent, regardless of one’s location.”


She describes a walk with her grandson at sunset by the East River in Lower Manhattan – how nature can provide us tranquility and inspiration.

“We paused, we watched, we embraced our good fortune,” she concludes. 


Afternoon view on the lake Jan. 10, 2018 - bruce witzel photo

  A view of the lake on Northern Vancouver Island – bruce witzel photo, Jan. 10, 2018



This brings me full circle.

What kind of growth and power will you and I witness for, in this weather-worn world?


  Cheers ~ Bruce


Statue of mother and child, un-recalled location - bruce witzel photo 


There is only one thing that matters ultimately and it is the personal and social value of supreme importance – which is that we grow in love…

Everything else is consequential.


John Main



Christmas Peace


Peace cannot be kept by force: it can only be achieved by understanding.

~ Albert Einstein ~


Young Mountain Sheep in Sheep River Provcincial Park Nov. 22 -2017 -bruce witzel photo



Our cabin at the lake, Christmas card Dec. 25-2017 - bruce witzel photo



Glass Christmas Oranament - bruce witel photo




Cabin snow (4), March 10-2017 - bruce witzel photo


We are all meant to be the mother of God . . .

What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture?


~ Meister Eckhart, 1260-1328, German Dominican Mystic ~


Kicking Horse River, Yoho National Park - British Columbia, Nov.26, 2017 - bruce witzel photo (2)

Kicking Horse River (above)             Sheep River Provincial Park  (below)


Mountain sheep on the road -bruce witzel photo



Christmas Peace

~ Bruce ~


Elena Travenaut's  painting (1979) on living room wall - bruce witzel photo

Smiles, Love and Letting Go


Emma holding Gramma's hand June 8-2012 - bruce witzel photo (2)

Emma holding Grandma’s hand – 2012


Walk along the Fraser River - bruce witzel photo (2)

Emma along the Fraser River in 2012


Old piers on the mighty Fraser River - bruce witzel photo (2)


Richard Rohr on Letting Go of of the False Self


The saints and mystics say, “When I’m nobody, I’m everybody!” When I’m no one, I’m at last every one. When I’m nothing, I’m everything. When I’m empty, I’m full. This is why so few people truly seek an authentic spiritual life. Who wants to be nothing? We’ve been told the whole point was to be somebody.                               



Emma & Fran decorating  Christmas cookies, Dec. 18, 2016 - brice wtzel photo (2)

Emma with Grandma – Christmas 2016


Brit and Emma - Kristen keeley photo, Dec. 9, 2017

                                            Emma and Britney (sisters forever) – Dec. 2017


Christmas baking 2016 - bruce witzel photo (2)

Brit, Grandma (beloved Francis), Emma & Kristen – Christmas 2016


Fran at Monument valley - October 2010

Fran at Monument Valley, October 2010 & below;

Old souls, rising up.


Monument Valley, Navaho Nation, Oct. 29 - 2010 - bruce witzel photo


St. John of the Cross expressed it this way:

To come to the pleasure you have not, you must go by a way in which you enjoy not. To come to the knowledge you have not, you must go by a way in which you know not. To come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not. To come to be what you are not, you must go by a way in which you are not.


Peace and Love ~ Bruce



Eastern Sierra Nevada's, October 2012 - bruce witzel photo

I lay in the meadow until the unwrinkled serenity entered in my bones, and

made me one with the still greenery, the drifting clouds.


~ Alice James ~

Eastern Sierra Nevada's, Califfornia USA - bruce witzel photo


 Cheers    ~    Bruce

NEW DAY DAWNS–High River, Alberta (transformation)


A tree gives glory to God by being a tree . . .


Morning Sun (oil painting3) in High River Alberta - bruce witzel photo


This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out it roots in the earth and raising its branches in the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will . . .

But what about you? What about me?                  ~ Thomas Merton ~


The  image above was taken on November 18–2017 and then transformed to appear like a painting by using Arcsoft PhotoStudio 5.5

The quote was borrowed from the book New Seeds of Contemplation published in 1962 by Thomas Merton.


             Cheers – Bruce

WARMING UP IN THE BANFF LIBRARY –A deep question, solar windows and Jane Goodall–in-one


Jane Goodall on why we are here


Francis and I, were walking in the city of Kamloops BC and the town 

of Banff Alberta last week.  Here’s a bit of what we experienced on our

sojourn. Three of the photos are  in hi resolution  ~ just click to enlarge. 

The solar tips were inspired by visiting the Banff  Public Library.

There  I found an article with the profound contemplative wisdom

of  Jane Goodall.


I conclude with Ms. Goodall’s poem . . .


Jane Goodall poem



Francis with Thompson River in Background, Nov.6-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Francis at the Thompson River


Thompson River in Kamloops B.C. Nov. 6 -2017 - bruce witzel photo


A Canada Goose landing  on the Thompson

Canada Goose landing on Thompson River in Kamloops BC - Nov.5-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Bow River in Canada’s Banff National Park (click on photo for full size)

Bow River near Banff Alberta, Nov. 8-2017 - bruce witzel photo



Bow River in Banff Alberta, Nov. 7-2017 -bruce witzel photo


Bow River (above) as seen from the bridge in downtown Banff (below).


Banff, Alberta (2)Nov. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


Bruce and Fran in Banff Nov.7-2017 - fran guentte photo

After an couple hours, we temporarily dropped into the Banff Public Library to get warmed up from the chilling –10 Celsius temperature and basked in the sun beaming through the south facing solarium.


Banff Public Library exterior  Nov. 7-2017 - bruce witzel photo


~ A Solar Lesson ~

One square meter of any surface on earth receives about 1000 watts of

energy when sunrays hit it perpendicular on a clear day. Doing the math,

1 square meter equals 10.75 square feet. Hence, the 8’ x 20’ skylight of the

library (160 square feet) was receiving about 15 kilowatts of free solar

energy. This illustrates that plenty of energy is available from properly

solar oriented windows and glazing.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see.


Bruce in the Banff Public Library Nov. 7-2017 - francis guenette photo


And with forethought, passive solar design can be done at little or no extra cost. After all – every building requires windows . Also, the design doesn’t  necessarily have to look unusual or unique, though it may.


Here are a few important nuances:

  1. 1)  Passive solar windows  are simpler and lower cost than passive skylights.

  2. 2) Skylights  and  high clerestory windows provide privacy from nearby streets or unwanted views.   

  3. 3) Windows provide wanted views , cross-ventilation and excellent cooling.

  4. 4) Skylights and clerestory windows can provide excellent overhead  natural light.

Banff Library interior

  1. 5) Windows are easier to shade in the summer than skylights, by utilizing overhangs, curtains or blinds, etc.

  2. 6) Exciting new types of skylights now provide both daylight and electricity, and can automatically begin to shade when required.

  3. 7) Compared to non-solar design, passive solar buildings create a closer connection with the outdoors and in general, a much healthier environment.


Vermillon Lake, Banff National Park  Nov. 8-2017 - francis guenette photo

Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park  Nov.8-2017 – Fran Guenette photo

(click to enlarge) 



A poem – by Jane Goodall


    Jane Goodall poem in Banff Libreary journal article






When the night wind makes the pine

trees creak

And the pale clouds glide across

the dark sky,

Go out, my child, go out and seek

Your soul, the Eternal I.


Vermillon Lake and Rocky Mntns in Banff National Park (3) Nov. 8-2017 - bruce witzel photo 


For all the grasses rustling at your feet

And every flaming star that glitters high

above you, close up and meet

in you: the Eternal I.



Yes, my child, go out into the world: walk


And silent, comprehending all, and by

and by

Your soul, the Universe will know

Itself: the Eternal I.



The lovely dunes; the

setting sun

The duck –and I;


Two Mallard Ducks on the Thompson River in Kamloops B.C.  Nov.6-2017 - bruce witzel photo 


One spirit moving


Beneath the sky.



Fence and Rocky Mntns. near Trans-Canada Highway (2), Banff Alberta Nov. 6-2017  - bruce witzel photo

(Click to enlarge)


Cheers – Bruce

PEEK IN THE FOREST , by Fr. Charles Brandt

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