Driving through northern Quebec and Labrador, it is easy to be mesmerized by the expanse of the wilderness and imagine it as a vast, desolate space. Yet occasionally I was reminded that there is a lot of activity extracting the resources. While there is logging, and mining, I found hydro-power generation the most interesting because it is fundamentally different. Unlike logging and mining that remove physical matter, hydro is “meta”, a derivative; it removes the power generated by the kinetic actions of water, but not the water itself. While logs and rocks are transported on roads and bridges by man and machine, electricity is transported through its own impetus along highways of power lines and towers.
Each of these industries leaves its own scars on the earth: clear-cut forests, open-pit mines and slag, flooded lands and quiesced rivers. Beyond these scars, I began to develop a sense that the wilderness was being drained of something. There is a movement of resources from the wilderness to the metropolis. The release of some potential energy to power our lifestyles. The scars are viewed as an acceptable cost, may be in part because they are unseen, not where we live, or the industries provide jobs.