The Great Bear Region in B.C. is a Canadian treasure we should all embrace -- home to one of the planet's last intact coastal temperate rainforests, some of the world's most productive cold water seas, and some of its most important remaining free-flowing salmon rivers. But it is in danger from the Northern Gateway Project, and the outcome will be deadly.
British Columbia currently faces a perfect storm of fossil fuel extraction and export projects colliding with the realities of a changing climate and rising inequality. Recent years have also been a time that has seen the emergence of mass social movements that are re-defining societies and challenging some of the most entrenched powers on our planet. From the Arab Spring to Idle No More, we are witnessing the rebirth of people power. Here in B.C., whispers of change have grown into a steady hum of organizing and mobilization as communities have come together to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, but now we are in need of growing this movement like never before. Here's why.
Our environment is changing rapidly and these changes are occurring faster than we can understand them. Climate disruption during the last decades has promoted a reorganization of biological communities, influencing the interrelationships of species and their distributions.
Filling up at the gas station is certainly one of the ways to use oil that is most familiar to us. But guess what: of all the oil we use, only 43 per cent goes to fueling our cars. Given this, can we seriously consider ending our "dependence on oil", as some would suggest? Someone who wants to stop using oil will have to say goodbye to smart phones, ballpoint pens, candlelight, clothing made of synthetic fibers, glasses, toothpaste, tires (including those on bicycles), and thousands of other products made from plastic, a petroleum derivative. Good luck with that program.
The largest onshore oil spill in US history -- Enbridge's ruptured Line 6B that released nearly 3 million liters of tar sands diluted bitumen into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan -- finally has an official price tag: $1,039,000,000 USD. That's according to newly disclosed figures released by Enbridge in a Revised Application to expand another one of its pipelines, the Alberta Clipper.
Line 9 is a 38-year-old pipeline running between Sarnia and Montreal. It runs through 115 communities and under prime farmland, and crosses major river systems that flow into Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. A spill could put the drinking water of millions of Ontarians at risk. And a spill will happen.
The world's leading scientists agree that carbon pollution from burning these fuels is rapidly heating the planet. This scientific reality creates a challenge for people still bent on increasing carbon pollution for self-enrichment: they need to convince us that the bad they are perpetrating is somehow good.
"Here," said a Heiltsuk friend as we began the walk, "put this in your pocket, it will help protect you." She handed me a piece of dried Devil's club bark, medicine from the B.C. coastal rainforest to carry with me as we walked by Alberta's tar sands facilities. Strong medicine was definitely in order as my lungs hurt, heart ached, and eyes welled up with tears with all that I witnessed.
British Columbians have made their voices heard both inside and outside the formal review panel process Concerned citizens, fishermen, engineers, academics, economists and business owners who have never spoken up publicly about something like this before, have said "no" to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Why hasn't Enbridge headquarters got the message yet?
We are stoking the heat ourselves, with the colossal pressure and encouragement of all the corporations that make billions in return for our dependency on fossil fuel, funneling a pittance in revenue to our governments, all the while decaying our democracy. Dumbing down its citizens with the toys offered in return.
British Columbians would not take kindly to an Alberta pro-tar sands Prime Minister ramrodding through a decision to approve the Northern Gateway Pipeline in the face of opposition from so many different constituencies. In my personal opinion, it would be political suicide.
British Columbia had all the makings of Canada's "environmental election." Pipelines and tankers, forests and coastlines, oil and gas, dominated much of the political debate and news coverage. But in the end, pro-development Christy Clark won. So, should pro-growth advocates be celebrating the end of the road for environmentalism as a political force? Not so fast.
TarSandsRealityCheck.com, which launches today, offers fact-checked, easy to understand information about Canada's tar sands. Created by academics, ec...
I think both the NDP and the Greens owe it to the public to make a peace treaty and find a way to show everyone that we can work together for solutions that are good for people and the planet. This is an important lesson for us to learn before the upcoming federal election, while we still have time to find ways to work together. Big Oil won a battle this week but they haven't won the war.
Canada's ability to oversee large energy projects is crumbling. No matter which way you look at it, Canada's regulatory system just isn't up to the challenging task of protecting the health, environment and economy of Canadians from risky energy projects.
If we connect the dots between all the natural gas, coal and tar sands proposals in B.C., a big picture emerges and the choice we face becomes both stark and clear: B.C. needs a government with leadership and vision to make the hard decisions. The province needs courage to stop building pipelines that would put at risk thousands of jobs and lock us into global warming. We need stewards to protect our collective future wisely, by investing in green jobs and saying yes to a clean energy future.