The comprehension of limits is a shattering experience; as shattering as the discovery that the earth is not flat and not the centre of the cosmos.
-John N. Cole
Once there was a lovely little town. All the people (about 10,000) loved the fine weather and bright sun that shone down on them year after year, so they named their blessed little village Sunnydale.
After people lived there for a long time they began to think that the sun had taken a special liking to their town and saved all its brightest, most vibrantly mellow rays just for their village.
Sunnydale was special for other reasons too. It was surrounded with lush green forests, broken only by gentle meadows where long waving grasses mixed with the wildflowers in the most delightful arrangements. The valley bottom was full of rich fertile soil and grew some of the finest crops in the nation.
When the people first came to Sunnydale, they looked on the rich soil, the clean water, the bright sunshine, and the tall forests. The land was good, so the people set about building houses, planting gardens, and raising their families. They held dances to celebrate the goodness of the land and the vigor of health that ran through their bodies.
Unfortunately, nothing stays the same, and over the years, things began to change. Oil was pumped out of the ground far away and transported over great distances to Sunnydale, but still it was very cheap. People no longer spoke to their horses as they worked the handles of the plow and wiped the sweat from their brow.
Now, they sat on tractors and injected poison into the soil. At home the food came from fields in Ontario, sealed in tin cans in Montreal. There was no need to go out to the school play; professional actors portrayed the eccentricities of life in New York on the TV screen. The oil heater kept the house at an even 70 degrees F.
It was definitely a softer life, and many called it better. However, with many Sunndale residents stretched out on the sofa, eyes fixed in a semidaze, belly spilling upward at the electric light and holding a can of beer brewed in Vancouver, it became increasingly difficult to call this new way of life vigorous or healthy.
Then one day some really big news flashed across the TV screen. The oil, which brought so many benefits was causing havoc with the atmosphere. Releasing all that stored energy from the oil resulted in the off-gassing of carbon dioxide that was causing overheating of the earth’s atmosphere. The people of Sunnydale turned down their thermostats to 68 degrees F. They bought smaller cars which went further on less oil. Still the new oil costs snuck into their pocketbooks and the Earth was beginning to show signs of severe stress. The people were not happy. They began to worry more and enjoy less.
In order to be more competitive the local industries were allowed to put more of their costs (poisons) into the air and water. At times the water tasted like a mix of oil and plastic. The air began to smell like rotten eggs. Most importantly, the sun, which had given Sunnydale its name and blessed its people, no longer smiled down through the bright blue sky. Now, the sun hung like a smuggy bright spot over the hazy, grey-brown horizons of Sunnydale.
The soil was tired from over work. It no longer crumbled in the farmers hands. With all the salts and poisons it no longer produced the kinds of crops it used to. The richest forests had long since been cut down and sent off to distant markets. The meadows became sticky with exposed clay and deeply rutted with the runoff from denuded forest land.
Some of the young people continued to believe human made technology could fix any human made problems–soo everything would get better. However, some of the folks who had lived under the bright sun and walked in the lovely meadows began to wonder if more oil had ever brought a better life.