On the first day of February 2006, a landmark agreement that has been called "one of the most visionary forest conservation plans on Earth" was inked by First Nations elders, the provincial government and environmentalists. Eighty five per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest -- at 3.1 million hectares, an area roughly twice the size of Vancouver Island -- is permanently off limits to logging.
Already there have been three near misses. Four months after Quebec's deaths, another derailment and explosion occurred outside an Alabama town without deaths. This was followed by a collision of two trains that resulted in an evacuation of more than 2,000 persons and a 400,000-gallon oil spill. A third derailment and explosion happened in Virginia forcing another evacuation. Safety is bad enough, but rail is also terrible for the environment.
While it will be a huge task, people in different countries must form some sort of power base that can challenge corporate power and also influence the signing of a world climate agreement. For our part in North America, it's unfortunate that the NGO environmental sector is so seriously split that it can't be called a movement.
It's the belief that we'll respond to risks that inspires people like me to speak out about environmental concerns. We sound the alarm to educate the public and encourage change. Far from being pessimistic, we speak out because we're optimistic. We believe that change is not only needed, but that it is possible.
Our days on tour are long and can be gruelling, but we are fuelled by the mutual satisfaction that we are engaged in extremely important work and that our message is being heard. Personally, I feel excited and energized and have just come off of what I would describe as one of the best summers of my life.
The Pipeline Bogeyman is the New Baby Seal Hunt -- a cause celebre for environmentalists and their fellow travelers as varied as meddling movie stars or Middle Eastern oil sheikhdoms that finance anti-development, anti-fracking, anti-oil sands efforts.My favourite example of the hidden and cynical geopolitical forces aimed at stifling Canada's economic development was the cinematic flop against natural gas fracking called "Promised Land" starring Matt Damon and financed by Abu Dhabi, the world's third biggest oil exporter.
Clayoquot Sound has become known around the world as a test area for conservation and for economic activities that don't undermine the environment. Yet little progress has been made in securing legislated protection for Clayoquot's ancient forests and in advancing the title, rights and community aspirations of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of the area.
Unfortunately, extreme weather events are becoming all too common, as they turn out to be more frequent and furious than ever before. Environmental advocates are quick to point out the "teachable moments" by linking the drastic weather patterns to climate change. However, they need to walk the fine line to ensure that they don't come across as overzealous or self-righteous in their attempts to spur public engagement, as this could turn people off and thwart even their most sincere and genuine efforts.
And where's the "humanity" in defending animal rights? Like me, devout animal lovers and environmentalists (often one and the same) betray an underlying misanthropy, a profound disgust and disillusion with humanity. We can love animals because they aren't our competitors; they're dumb and easily used to serve our ends.
It would have been better by light years if Canada had ended its Kyoto agreement responsibilities with a new and better environmental agreement already in hand -- instead of slinking away like the juvenile delinquent who missed so much school that catching up with the other students became completely out of the question.