Originally from May 30, 2018
As the Trans Mountain Pipeline controversy peaks and threats fly- Canadians wonder where this is all going to go! I am not afraid here to pick sides. First Nations, Environmental Groups and the BC government are justified in opposing Kinder Morgan, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party and Ms Notley’s NDP. And here is why….
This pipeline will mean new development in the Tar Sands which will cancel Mr Trudeau’s pledge to reduce emissions by signing the Paris Accord. We (Big Oil included) know that raising global temperatures over 2 degrees C will create costly increases in environmental disasters. This year’s temperature rise in the Arctic has been the highest ever- with a weather station at the northern tip of Greenland recording 60 hours above freezing temperatures for the month of February. Unseen!
Climate Change related issues abound and impacts are exacerbating. Loss of forest, weather irregularities(the list is long), coral reef loss, acidifying oceans, up to 70% loss in glacial ice, the major source of fresh water on the planet- to name a few. Other issues as well such as loss of topsoil- up to 70% loss in soil organic matter, extensive loss of biodiversity and species extinction, water contamination through nutrient overload and chemicals, rise in metabolic diseases leading to skyrocketing health care costs- these are not necessarily related to Climate Change but certainly reflect an anthropocentric and destructive attitude towards the planet- and the life and diversity of life that sustains us- economically, socially, politically, spiritually, psychologically…
HSBC- the largest bank in Europe- has divested from tar sands production. Likewise -the City of New York divested it pension funds (6 billion$)from Big Oil in January 2018. Over $6 trillion have been divested from the fossil fuel industries since 2011. And now, Ms Notley and Mr. Trudeau are willing to use Canadian taxpayers money to insure that this pipeline will be pushed through. Are Canadians willing to invest in more destruction as more and more companies and people are screaming a gigantic NO to further disastrous exploitation of finite resources? Are Canadians willing to damage reconciliation gains with First Nations, endangering environments along the pipeline’s course and in Vancouver’s English Bay… “We’re a world at war, (as well on the natural world) ravaged by disagreements, a bizarrely globalized people in which the extravagant excesses of one culture wash up as famine or flood on the shores of another” (B. Kingsolver) Should we continue to be “that culture” or should we show compassion for our children and this beautiful planet?!
According to the International Monetary Fund(IMF), Big Oil is already highly subsidized. In 2016, the fossil fuel industry cost to taxpayers worldwide was $5.3 trillion. For Canadians this meant $46.3 billion. It is time for us to change course and use our financial resources in creating a new low carbon economy- not a growth economy based on consumption and resource extraction that results in the fragmenting and destruction of a now very fragile planet “while enriching those who disdain us” (Carl Safina).
Can we build a better economy? Absolutely! We are already doing in small but significant numbers across this wondrous planet…
Instead of suffering an economy based on our “deficiencies” sometimes “created”; built so that the world of experts and corporations can profit from those deficiencies- we build an economy and a life based on our intrinsic “gifts” and those of nature. We create an economy that supports life as Janine Benyus says- “life creates the conditions that are conducive to life.”
How can we do this?! Here are a few examples…
The diseases that are killing us- literally and financially- cancer , heart disease, diabetes, obesity… are metabolic in nature- these are much related to our environments: the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the stress we absorb(poverty, loneliness, gender and racial discrimination, bullying….) These diseases are reaching epidemic proportions- but for the most part are preventable. But instead of focusing on prevention (one once of prevention is worth more than one pound of cure) and deal with the root cause of the problems that lead to these diseases- processed foods, contaminated air and water, addressing poverty and other societal ills- our “growth economy” capitalizes on them.
In times of crisis, we always see communities come together – individual “gifts” of people come to life in service of the poor , affected, and distraught. In our communities- we used to value our elderly, take care of our children and marginal folk. Now this obsessive growth economy means exploitation, more consumption, and pollution. Any means to grow the economy is justified to the point of creating deficiencies(so that we can service them)- we are more valuable to this growth economy by the market value of our problems than our gifts.
People plant trees mostly because of their beauty. Not discounting the importance of beauty to the heart and soul of any living entity- a tree has much more to offer- what we call “ecological services” better known in the native community as “gifts”. A tree captures CO2 through photosynthesis, shares the carbon with soil biology in exchange for nutrients, and sequesters Carbon, releases oxygen and aerosols that enhances anyone exposed to a reduced risk of cancer. In its lifetime, a tree transpires 250,000 gallons of water- releasing clean-pure H2O for the benefit of all life on the planet. Yet- too many of us only see 2×4’s.
In our extraction economy including the Tar Sands- we bulldoze down these wonderfully gifted trees that sustain our life – for economic gain. The very trees that have so much to give for free are shaved to the ground- exposing soil and carbon that oxidizes contributing more greenhouse gases to an already CO2 overloaded atmosphere. But it does not stop there- huge amounts of natural gas are used to separate the bitumen from the sands, the fuel needed to run the operations in massive trucks and cranes, the building of pipelines, the dilution of the bitumen, the water used in the process that creates these massive tailings ponds polluting ground water and rivers, the wildlife destruction and species extinction- and then after it is refined – we burn it in our SUV’s.
Agriculture has fallen to similar patterns- we have basically destroyed the life in our soils; up to 70%loss in soil organic matter across the arable planet through overtill , chemicals- including commercial fertilizers. We have forsaken its richness and capacity to regenerate itself- created deficiencies that we try to resolve with more chemicals and more fertilizers. And we are losing the battle. We try to resolve the problem using the same method that created them- sounds familiar!
Acknowledging our gifts- observation, time , love, compassion, networking- we could better understand the living world we inhabit and mimic its ways. We can heal the soil and heal ourselves in the process- regenerating soils , atmosphere, lives and the health of the planet, we ARE the environment. Our energies and capital should be directed towards this regenerative process funding the transition and education necessary to accomplish and insure the survival of all life- and that of future generations. We need to stop this incessant war on nature and , ultimately value our “gifts” and not on our deficiencies. We sense this in the depth of our souls.
To all Canadians and taxpayers, Mr Trudeau and Ms Notley- we have to stop investing in destruction- and rather invest in education, prevention, and regeneration. Let’s be the “radical environmentalists” that we desperately require, NOW, for all the lives on this incredibly beautiful planet.
Gerard Dubé , La Broquerie , Manitoba