Dinosaur Economics

Ask the dinosaurs. What happened to them? We asked one of our elders, “Why did those dinosaurs disappear?” He thought about it for a while and he said, “Maybe they didn’t do their ceremonies.”

 Leroy Little Bear

i wanted bitumen to be made of dead dinosaurs. why did i want these

ancient kin to be passively implicated in the fossil fuel industry? it

felt like an appropriate way to romanticize the disaster of the tar

sands. how tragic to be killed by a meteorite and for your remains

to warm the planet into disaster millions of years later. perhaps this

is a means of climate change coping. a weird one. however, in my

research for this poem i concluded that the ford f-150s of alberta are

not burning dinosaurs to propel themselves. in fact, petroleum, nat-

ural gas, etc. come from plankton, marine organisms and bacteria

from oceans three billion years ago. so the entire term fossil fuels is a

strange, incorrect one. others were also attached to dinosaurs as part

of the energy sector but for different reasons. the term tar sands still

remains jarring to me as someone who grew up in alberta. maybe this

surprises you and me, but the programming in this province began

early. i distinctly remember learning about “have-not” provinces in

elementary school, how “we” paid for their free daycare. what i did

not learn was that none of the land below the depth of a plow was

surrendered in treaty, that my nêhiyaw ancestors would have never

understood children going hungry in a land of such prosperity. there

was prosperity here before the money, oil wells and pipelines; there will

be prosperity after those cease to be here. in 2006 my working-class

family of four (three out of four of which are treaty indians) received

a cheque for $1600 from the klein government due to the surplus of

a booming oil economy. that year we went on vacation, packed up a

station wagon to the brim, fuelled by old sea creatures.

Bibliographical info

Emily Riddle’s “Dinosaur Economics” Copyright © 2022 by Emily Riddle. Source “Dinosaur Economics” from The Big Melt (Nightwood Editions, 2022). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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