I am writing this during a “booth duty” break in the ESfS (Earth Science for Society) event. The event introduces Earth Sciences to the youth of Calgary. The kids are mostly aged from 4 to 16 years old, and are from school groups, Guides, Scouts and the public. It is inspiring to see their excitement as they participate in “hands-on” activities, experiments and experience the technologies we use daily in our work.

They are Canada’s future and some, no doubt, will be influenced by this experience when the time comes to choose a career path as they embark on life’s journey.

This event is a credit to the many volunteers who give their time and effort so graciously to make it such a success. Thank you, Annette Milbradt, for getting the CAGC involved with this project and also for the many hours you volunteered at SIM (Seismic in Motion) over the past 15 years.

How often have you said, or thought, “if only I had taken a different path in life” or, “if only I had known then what I know now, things would be quite different”?

Maybe it was to do with a career choice, an investment, or to do with a relationship, but regardless, I’m sure most of us have had such thoughts and would relish the opportunity to go back in time and try again.

I distinctly remember my mother telling me that I should set my sights on a career as a lawyer or an accountant. Did I take her sage advice? Of course not! I knew better and decided that it was travel, sports and money that I wanted, and my choice was the British Army. It was a great choice and fulfilling for a few years, until I was posted to Northern Ireland, where suddenly I was exposed to the less appealing side of military life as the potential target of a very committed group of Irishmen who really didn’t want us in “their” country.

Seismic became the next career choice to provide the opportunity for travel, sports and money, hopefully with less risk of being shot at or bombed and I have to say, it has been a great ride and has provided the means to live, work and play with some great people along the way.

When times get tough, as they have been since the downturn in the “Oil Patch”, I think back to my mother’s advice and recognize that lawyers and accountants are insulated from the ups and downs of the “boom and bust” cycle experienced in the seismic world. Each time there was a bust, and there have been a few, no one was certain that times would ever get better, let alone back to previous levels. So far they have, and this is no time to think that the roller coaster will be dismantled and sold off for scrap any time soon. Of course you have to be old enough to have been through the cycles and I can empathize with the younger geoscientists who don’t have the same length of recall.

Some of us may remember back to the early 80’s during the “reign” of the first Trudeau and the proliferation of bumper stickers that appeared on Calgary streets stating “Please God, give us another oil boom, we promise not to p*** it away this time.”

It seems our leaders lack vision and many haven’t learned any lessons from the past to plan for the future, which in my mind is as bright as it ever has been in Canada, particularly for those with ambition, determination and with the willingness to innovate and embrace technology. There will be the need for ALL forms of energy looking forward, as populations grow, and there is an abundance of resources right here in Canada to satisfy that world need.

We will, undeniably, require geoscientists to find and develop these resources and also industry and political leaders to create the future economic climate of opportunity using lessons learned from the past to make it happen. It’s time to get it right.

Hindsight is 20/20, and as defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary is: “Looking back at a situation or event that occurred and having a clearer understanding of it and how it could have been done better.”

And the definition of 20/20 vision is: “The ability to see perfectly, without needing to wear glasses or contact lenses.”

If glasses do need to be worn, let’s hope they are not rose-colored.

As we quickly approach the year 2020, a year when we will likely be under new federal leadership and in the infancy of a new provincial government in Alberta, I thought it would be appropriate to list some examples of visionaries.

As defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary a “visionary” is one who has the ability to imagine how a country, society, industry, etc. will develop in the future and to plan in a suitable way.

We are very familiar with some historical examples across industry and technology that include Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, John D Rockefeller, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Warren Buffet, Sergey Brin & Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg etc. Many started enterprises that changed the world, mostly for the “good” and most made personal fortunes during the process. They share some common attributes (e.g. vision and determination), which helped them reach their goals. Many started from very humble beginnings, and many weren’t perfect, with shortcomings that they had to overcome through perseverance.

Who are these leaders in Canada today? And, who of them will lead us into the future and out of the malaise in which we find ourselves? The answer is one who doesn’t speak “rhetoric” but instead will be able to put words into action to create a climate of confidence and certainty that will attract investment and activity back into the Canadian energy industry.

Perhaps one of the kids inspired at this year’s Earth Science for Society event will be such a person who will go on to become a great visionary or leader and solve a few of the world’s problems.

The year 2020 will prove to be interesting in other ways. It is a leap year and those born on February 29th will be able to enjoy their birthdays, after a 3-year hiatus of no birthdays at all. There will also be another entertaining US election, with all the intrigue that it will likely bring. There will be an Olympics in Tokyo and the first World Expo in the Middle-East in Dubai, and even Calgary gets in on the act, with the X games that will start in 2020 and run over a 3-year span.

These events are sure to inspire future athletes, politicians, innovators and entrepreneurs and let us hope there will continue to be some geoscientists amongst them to ensure Canada remains a world leader in seismic exploration technologies and as the premier supplier of clean, ethical energy.



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