Friday, 3 June 2016

Rebuttal to Fort McMurray Criticism

Captain Paul Watson expounds on the Fort McMurray conflagrations..
       The following text has been taken from a repost by one of my Facebook Friends, Ingmar Lee, a fellow who lives near Bella Bella on Canada’s west coast. I know he is a person very concerned about the environment at his beautiful west coastal region of the world.
     Captain Paul Watson needs no introduction as one of the founding members of Greenpeace. They have done and continue to raise some very valid environmental concerns around the world. They are very action based funded by huge money donated by concerned world citizens.
Please read the following posting that Paul Watson wrote on his Facebook page and was reposted by Ingmar. There are also a couple of comments following.
Captain Paul Watson expounds on the Fort McMordor conflagrations..
The Sodom and Gomorrah of the Great White North
by Captain Paul Watson - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
May 2016
Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scolded Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May for suggesting that the tragic fires in Alberta were connected to climate change.
It appears that the Prime Minister likes to speak about climate change in the abstract but does not want to address the reality of the actual consequences of climate change.
Prime Minister Trudeau suggested that Elizabeth May’s statements were “inappropriate.”
Well he sure as hell is going to view my position as very inappropriate but there are some things about Fort McMurray and Alberta that simply need to be said.
Fort McMurray is a town that was established by the fur trade and built upon the bloody corpses of millions of wild animals. The name comes from a Hudson’s Bay fur trader named William McMurray. The place has been a blight on the landscape in the boreal forest ever since the fur traders forced the native Cree people to pack up and move along.
Calgary, is Canada’s petro-capital, hosts the cruel annual Stampede and is the home of the blue eyed Arabs in their white cowboy hats.
Alberta, a Province where oil is so revered that Edmonton named their hockey team – the Oilers.
Fort McMurray is the home base of the workers and company offices of those who devastated the natural environment with their obscenely destructive tar sands development projects.
Fort McMurray is a city of 80,000 that has been known as the “beating heart” of the Canadian oil industry.
The wealthiest per capita city in Canada with an average household income of $181,000 Canadians dollars.
A town with a birthrate above the national average.
A town with the largest number per capita of imported luxury cars.
A town of climate change deniers who have long held environmentalists in contempt and who laughed at the warnings that the planet is heating up and the ever-growing signs that consequences were fast appearing on the horizon.
Fort McMurray and Calgary, the two communities most responsible for the worst destruction of eco-systems in Canada – the scorched earth economic policies that ripped open the bowels of the land, destroyed rivers, lakes, forests and wetlands and caused the deaths of millions of animals.
Fort McMurray, a town that contributed so much to creating and spewing great volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and as fate has unveiled, the very town that is suffering the fire storm consequences of the seeds that it has sown.
In 2013 Calgary was hit with its worst flooding disasters in memory.
Yet the Prime Minister says there is no connection between these disasters and climate change.
Fort McMurray is now experiencing the highest temperatures and the lowest precipitation in its entire history. Temperatures this week were 31 degrees F. higher than average for the month of May.
To say there is no relationship to climate change is a delusional denial. Of course there is a connection and that connection is blazing forth dramatically in Fort McMurray where the entire population has been evacuated and over 1200 homes have been razed to the ground.
Of course we should feel compassion for the losses of the people who live there but it is insane to not discuss why this is happening and why it will continue to happen.
When humanity spits into the face of Mother Nature we should not be surprised to see the consequences of our collective arrogance and ecological ignorance spat back at us.
This horrendous fire, just like the flood that hit Calgary and the super storms, floods and tornadoes ravaging through communities around the globe are the consequences of the hundreds of millions of tons of carbon that we annually inject into the atmosphere and the irreparable damage we are doing to the natural mechanisms that absorb carbon, like the forests, wetlands and the ocean.
This fire is nature’s punishment for the sins of human avarice. Not in a theological sense, there is no divine plan here, just the natural chemical reaction caused by humanity’s activities.
In nature there is always an equal reaction to an action. The tar sands development was a huge action and the reaction is and will be equally huge as a consequence.
The disaster in Fort McMurray is man-made and the people suffering the most are some of the very people who participated in creating the circumstances that they are now experiencing.
Prime Minister Trudeau says that now is not the time to discuss this, but when is it time to discuss cause and effect. They did not want to discuss it in the past. They don’t want to discuss it now and they have no intention of discussing this in the future.
They can dismiss it as an act of God, a natural disaster or whatever they may choose to call it, but the writing is on the wall. Big oil, government, both Federal and Provincial, big banks, and jobs are the underlying cause of this disaster and that is a truth now written in the sky with broad brushstrokes of flame and smoke.
Top of Form
Robert Roy
Bottom of Form
Robert Roy Sunny Ways vs. "Fire in the Sky". The first reaction for some on the less popular side of oil industry was to feel like Karma was truly coming to town in Tar Sands Land. Not a warm fuzzy feeling, maybe much sooner and more violent than was expected. Th...See More
Barbara Joyce Hutton
Top of Form
Barbara Joyce Hutton Very well said. My sentiments exactly. Mother Nature is not finished with this yet. It has now moved into BC. So guess we will be next to experience Mother Natures Rath. Rightfully so!

     Very Interesting is all I can say. There is some truth in what the captain writes. Since the fur trade arrived in the New World, we have not been kind to the land, the wildlife or the native people.
     By “We” I mean all of us, not just Ft. McMurray and the residents who were forced to flee due to the large forest fire that recently ravaged that region of North Eastern Alberta. As far as we know the fire started naturally but grew very quickly due to the unusually warm and dry winter and early spring. For this we can place some blame upon a very strong El Nino winter; effected because of a warmer Pacific Ocean than normal.
     In 2013, southern Alberta suffered from spectacular floods that ravaged Calgary, High River and many other communities along the Bow and Elbow river systems. This high water can be attributed in part to massive clear cut logging in the foothills region of the Eastern Slopes region where these rivers begin. Once again, people were forced to flee their homes toward higher ground.

     In 2011, another forest fire ravaged much of the central Alberta Town of Slave Lake. Once again the residents fled the fire to safety. All three of these incidents cost or will cost insurance companies billions of dollars and untold hardship and stress upon the people who lived through them.

     What caused these disasters? Yes, all of us built cities and towns in the boreal forest. Boreal forests depend upon fires to rejuvenate so it stands to reason that every square foot of the forest will burn someday. Will it burn in such spectacular fashion or is it only spectacular if it burns parts of cities and towns? There was a forest fire burning in Northeast B.C. at the same time as the Ft. Mac fire but that fire very quickly became a mute story when the wind directed it away from nearby communities and a rainstorm happened along to assist in putting it out. We humans have become very good at putting out forest fires over the past few decades. This ability is one of the reasons that millions of acres of pine forest in B.C. has been infested and killed off by the pine beetle. Warmer winters has also had somewhat to do about the naturally occurring pine beetle but I wonder about that somewhat. Central B.C. is naturally a much warmer place than most of the rest of western Canada. I don’t know how often -40 degrees weather ever happened in October and November that would have frozen the beetle to death before it could manufacture anti-freeze or before it had the chance to bore deep enough into a pine tree to protect it. That rarely happens now and with our ability to put out fires, the beetle has proliferated and killed pine forests in B.C., Northwest USA, Alberta and into Saskatchewan.
     The largest Canadian forest fire ever happened in 1950 and covered more than 1.5 million hectares, three times as large as the Ft. Mac fire. Global warming had not yet been discovered but that summer was also very warm and dry with powerful winds and plenty of land to cover. There were no tar sands plants polluting the air in 1950 either.
     Remember the devastating Kelowna fire and the fire that started east of Kamloops that ravaged Barrier about ten, maybe fifteen years ago? That one started by a cigarette tossed into tinder dry grassland and forest.
     Many cities or towns all of us built in B.C., Alberta or anyplace in this country could be burned down by wildfire due to close proximity to forest or grasslands. The luck of the draw or direction of the wind puts many places at risk. California and Australia also see homes lost every year due to wild fires.
     The point I am trying to make is that it is not solely to do with what any place does to establish itself that puts it at a higher risk of destruction. Anyone who drives a vehicle, a boat, flies on an airplane or heats his home is using fossil fuels and that is fact. If you have ever packed your groceries into plastic bags or used plastic in any way, you are supporting the oil industry. All of us in North America have numerous items in our homes manufactured with an oil heritage. That oil comes from the ground at the risk of earthly damage and destruction. We all want these fuels for the least possible price as well. We are all responsible for our share in this fuel manufacturing process. We can all see the damage that it is causing our earth but we continue to weigh the pros and cons and risk the health of earth as a whole to provide ourselves with our comfortable lives. Ft. McMurray is not alone in environmental destruction but it is a very visible poster child. Ft. Mac industry does add carbon and other harmful chemicals to the air and water, no doubt about it. We are all concerned about settling ponds at the oil sands plants, just as we are concerned about settling ponds at any mines everywhere. We have seen what happens when ponds burst into pristine rivers as happened at Mount Polley, near Likely, B.C. Obed coal mine and Pinchi Lake mines also burst tailing's ponds into pristine rivers and lakes with slurry's of cyanide, heavy metals and coal waste. It seems to be an acceptable cost of doing business that corporations try to avoid but our environmental protection agencies dole out few real consequences.
     Mining also causes very visible scars on pristine landscapes. East of Hinton, Alberta, coal miners have moved entire mountains, one truck load at a time. It is unbelievable to see how 7000 foot mountains can just disappear in a couple of years. They do smooth out the rubble and plant some grass when they have depleted the coal but it is not quite the same. The diversity of life has disappeared for centuries. There are mines scattered throughout Canada that leave spectacular destruction in their wake, covered by a bit of grass when completed if lucky.
     We can all see massive clear cuts of forest that have been hacked out of beautiful, pristine wilderness from coastal B.C. through the rest of Canada. Old growth forest logging still happens every day even though we all know that these spectacular forest habitats will never likely recover. 1000 year old trees still get chopped down to make 2x4s and pulp so we can build another house or wipe our butt with silky smooth wipes. We can all see the damage that cutting mountain sides of forest cause to streams and rivers. Floods of debris and silt destroy valuable spawning habitat for salmon and trout as well as numerous other species that depend on clean water. Treeless mountainsides reflect the sun’s rays causing warmer micro-climates and water temperatures. Warmer water causes ice to melt quicker and heat up the ocean. We risk this environmental damage against our growing population’s requirements for comfortable houses and conveniences. Do we hear a hue and cry from the west coast environmentalists about this damage? Sometimes, when it occurs in front of their own village.
     Fishermen should not be left out either. Deep sea fishermen are dragging the sea bed with huge nets causing undetermined but unseen destruction to the ocean floor. Everything gets mowed over and torn up far from view under water in the hopes of catching the few fish that are left out there. Any species of critter scooped up but not wanted is tossed back into the sea, most often dead or badly wounded. Fishermen have so depleted the ocean of life that it is not likely to live much beyond a few more years. Krill, the basis of life in the ocean is harvested by shiploads to feed dogs, cows, pigs, chickens and to make fertiliser. Herring are harvested at their most vulnerable time of spawning in the spring of the year which depletes food source for larger species in the ocean. This makes less food available for salmon, birds and whales. Live sharks have their fins cut off and then are pushed back into the sea to drown so somebody can get his virility charged soup.
     To replace dwindling salmon stocks, B.C. has allowed scores of fish farms to be tied up in secluded bays along the coastlines of Vancouver Island and throughout inlets up and down the coast. These fish feedlots raise foreign Atlantic salmon by the millions. They are accused of polluting the sea bed beneath each pen, spreading disease and parasites to local migrating salmon which may cause depletion of natural wild salmon stocks. Alexandra and her followers is the lone voice of concern for wild salmon and we know nothing about that here in Alberta or anywhere away from the coast. Are these examples any worse Sodom and Gomorrah’s than Ft. McMurray?
     The oil sands plants, mines, forestry and fish farms all provide valuable industries for our growing countries. They provide invaluable jobs to isolated communities. They all make profit for shareholders. An exploding world human population is driving all of these industries. None of us agree with the methodology to the madness we are perpetuating on our earth. How do we stop it? I think it is impossible to halt and roll back to the 1800s or whichever era you would like to live in.

     The one point I want to make to tie everything together follows. Don’t forget the real people who actually live and work in the towns and cities responsible for resource extraction. Whether you live in Ft. McMurray or Likely, or Prince George or Hinton or any of the small logging or fishing communities the men and women are working hard to provide for their families. These people crawl out of bed and punch the time clock everyday to go to work making the attempt to earn an honest living trying to give their families a better chance at life than they had. They are just ordinary people on the treadmill of life going to work, eating, sleeping and then back to work. With a bit of luck they come home safely everyday to families with enough pay to feed the insatiable taxman, mortgage or rent, the grocery store, the car payment, the insurance companies, the dentist and doctor. Maybe they have enough left over for a bit of fun to make all their time sacrifices worthwhile. Most of these workers are honest and caring and giving. These are the people who will run into a burning building to save your cat or child, they will extract you from a car wreck and comfort you until the authorities show up. When Ft. Mac was burning we watched in awe at what ordinary people were doing to help out complete strangers with no more pay than a firm handshake and thank you. We heard of firefighters battling flames while their own house next door was on fire. One fellow did not even take the time out to save his own dog; he was too busy helping a neighbour.
     As much as we may not agree with what they do, even the corporations opened up camps to provide shelter and food for evacuees. Men working in some of the camps gave up their own rooms so evacuated families could stay together.
     I hate it when people run down these brave and caring people during crisis situations. I recall that when the Queen of the North crashed into Gill Island in the middle of a cold and stormy night that when the Mayday- Mayday- Mayday call went out, brave people crawled out of their warm beds and into any boat that would float. They did not want to I’m sure, but they risked all to do whatever they could to save strangers in time of urgent need. Even though some of those rescuers are environmental destructors such as fishermen, loggers or fish farmers, they were every bit as eager to do what they could to help, and I wouldn’t want anyone else out there but them. They know what is required to do without a big command structure. Just bend your back and get it done. They opened their modest homes and community hall to use as makeshift rescue centers. There was hot coffee and food and warm, dry clothing for the rescued passengers.
      When the big wave comes crashing into Vancouver in the near future after the coming earthquake, I for one will not wish this on that “Sodom and Gomorrah.” Bad things are happening to people who now live there as well but I will try to add any support that I can for them in their time of need.
     To all the Captain Watson's of the world and his followers, stop calling the kettle black while you are standing in your own black frying pan. Come up with a genuine solution to some of the world problems and do what you can to minimise your own impact upon this beautiful and fragile earth. Do not bully hardworking people of our country in their time of desperate need. The best way for you to lose any respect that you may have gained through some of your causes, is to kick your peers when they are down.

Robert Scriba, a former logger, trucker, hunter and fisherman learning to be a friendly occupant of our earth.

June, 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment