Ecology

The predator we need to control is us!

photo of David Suzuki

SCIENCE MATTERS
by David Suzuki

• Humans are the world’s top predator. The way we fulfil this role is often mired in controversy, from factory farming to trophy hunting to predator control. The latter is the process governments use to kill carnivores like wolves, coyotes and cougars to stop them from hunting threatened species like caribou – even though human activity is the root cause of caribous’ decline.

Predation is an important natural function. But as the human population has grown, we’ve taken over management of ecosystems once based on mutually beneficial relationships that maintained natural balances. How are we – a “super predator” as the Raincoast Conservation Foundation dubs us – aligning with or verging from natural predation processes that shaped the world?

Site C and LNG: a tenuous relationship

Site C would be BC’s most expensive infrastructure project ever. Its debt funding will be loaded onto the shoulders of our children. It needs a convincing business case and, so far, that case is anything but convincing.

by Eoin Finn B.Sc., Ph.D., MBA

The relationship between the LNG industry and the Site C’s power is tenuous at best. To date, four LNG plants – LNG Canada, Kitimat LNG, Woodfibre LNG and now Pacific NorthWest LNG – have received export licenses and environmental certificates from Canada’s Governments. Only one – the small-scale Woodfibre plant in Vancouver’s Howe Sound – will use grid electricity to power its liquefaction process. All the much-larger plants will each burn about 10 percent of their gas intake to power the minus 162oC refrigeration process. If built, they would together add about 30 million tonnes to BC’s annual carbon emissions – a 50 percent increase. Upstream emissions would at least double that.

When I first settled in Vancouver in 1978, I went to a Canadian Club lunch. The guest speaker was BC Hydro’s CEO, who sternly warned the audience that, unless he got the OK to build three nuclear plants, the coal-fired Hat Creek and the Site C dam, we would in future have to munch on sushi in the dark. That was my introduction to “hydronomics”, and the engineers who want to keep on building dams – proving that, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Canadians want climate plan, not fracked LNG

by Bruce Mason

 

• On October 2, when Canada’s environment ministers met in Montreal, they were made aware of how Canadians view key climate issues. Topping the list: the majority (66%) of Canadians support an effective climate plan to meet targets.

The new public opinion research revealed a substantial majority of respondents (70%) believe climate change is a significant threat to Canada’s economic future. It also found that 60% support a price on carbon emissions everywhere in the country.

The survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted by Nanos Research for Clean Energy Canada, was released as federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers gathered to prepare for a First Ministers’ Meeting on climate change later this year.

“The public is sending a clear signal. They’re tired of bickering among politicians,” reported Merran Smith, Clean Energy’s executive director. “Canadians want to see provinces do their part, but they also want the federal government to pick up the slack if provinces don’t deliver necessary results.”

Monsanto tribunal in The Hague

For an increasing number of people from around the world, Monsanto today is the symbol of industrial agriculture. This chemical-intensive form of production pollutes the environment, accelerates biodiversity loss, and massively contributes to global warming.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Monsanto, a US-based company, has developed a number of highly toxic products, which have permanently damaged the environment and caused illness or death for thousands of people. These products include:

  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the twelve Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility;
  • 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant, Agent Orange, which was used by the US Army during the Vietnam War and continues to cause birth defects and cancer;
  • Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe;
  • and RoundUp, the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the source of the greatest health and environmental scandal in modern history – this toxic herbicide is used in combination with genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready seeds in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels.

Monsanto promotes an agroindustrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.

The power of one – saying no to salmon farms

The nations of the Dzawada’enuxw have been uniting and travelling down the coast of Vancouver Island locking arms with other nations in their quest to remove salmon farms from their traditional waters, sometimes called the Broughton Archipelago.

They have said “No” for almost 30 years to the salmon farms using their territories. But somehow, Canada, BC and the Norwegian/Japanese salmon farmers decided to ignore them. So today, one third of the BC salmon farming industry has made themselves at home in Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory.

Keep the Peace and feed us all

Will BC create a Peace Valley breadbasket or a Site C basket case?

by Bruce Mason

In photo, Caroline Beam and her children Xavier, Lucas and Tristan at their home on the banks of the river, with the Gates pictured in the background. The Beam children have grown up with the river as their backyard. From the upcoming book, The Peace in Peril, by Christopher Pollon. Photo by Ben Nelms.

• Let’s focus for a moment on some fundamental issues for Common Ground readers – nutrition and food security, safety, sustainability and sovereignty – as they relate to the most costly ($9 billion and rising), unnecessary mega-project in BC history.As you read this, scorched-earth infrastructure for a massive, otherworldly wall of compacted earth is being constructed to crush and greedily swallow up nature in the northeastern Peace Valley. Towering 60 meters high, and more than a kilometre wide, the Site C dam will cause an apocalyptic, man-made, 93-square-kilometre flood, engulfing enough precious topsoil to grow the nutritional requirements for at least one million people.