We Continue to Go Backwards at an Unsustainable Rate
by Rafe Mair - The Canadian.orgOld men cannot help feeling sad – not just at the physical ramifications, the illnesses you know will come all too soon or the fact that the fateful day is not far off.
It’s not even the mistakes made, the people hurt by what you’ve said and done or the opportunities missed. These things are balanced off by the knowledge that your fate is that of every living thing in the world and your family.
To have the love of my life, four children (one deceased), eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild balances the unbalanceable equation.
For me, the truly horrid part is to see that not only have humans learned no lessons, we continue to go backwards at an unsustainable rate.
We have freely elected governments in both Ottawa and Victoria that not only refuse to understand the consequences of their deliberate, greedy ways, but actually believe that their actions are helpful to mankind. They have all, I assume, been taught to tell the truth but they consistently lie, such that one cannot accept a word they say. Worse, they have created an atmosphere where everyone, especially big business, must also lie – although which came first I cannot say.
The past week has been especially hard for this old guy to handle. The premier of the province tells us that an oil refinery in Kitimat will blow our troubles away. We should now consider the proposed Enbridge Pipeline to be a blessing as if the diluted bitumen to pass through the pipeline is now not a worry. She tells us that the “Prosperity Fund”, from Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) revenues, will put, someday soon, $100 BILLION into our kitty for safe keeping. How unhelpful it is to point out that LNG is a glut on the market or alternatively will, at the best, offset the egregious fiscal harm done the province since the Liberals took power in 2001.
We have a federal government utterly bent on having this pipeline approved and have sent a lawyer off to convince First Nations that lots of Wampum will come their way if they just ignore their centuries old commitment to the environment.
The basic point is essentially this: when large corporate profits are at stake, the environment, our natural inheritance, means, dare I say it, fuck-all – a naughty phrase but it, better than any other, sums up this utterly uncaring attitude of those put in authority over us. It's not that they don't care - they do care about political funds and corporate profits while ignoring our inheritance and what should be our legacy for our descendants.
What really struck me this week was the resignation from the Sea Shepherd Society of Captain Paul Watson, who has been designated a “pirate” by the US District Court of Appeals, which made the point that the critical importance of your crusade cannot permit you to enforce your own penalties.
As I sit here by my computer this Thursday morning, I’m wearing a Sea Shepherd pullover – I put it on, eerily, before I heard the news of his departure from the organization's anti-whaling fleet. I have been on Sea Shepherd's Board of Advisors for over 20 years – I’ve known Paul for more than 30.
I’m not going to trouble you with Paul’s many activities but simply say that, yes, Paul did try to protect the oceans of the world, contrary to the wishes of corporations and their captive governments. For the vast majority of cases, he tried to enforce international law when no one else would. He looked at Japan killing hundreds of whales a year for scientific purposes with all the animals - surprise! surprise! - ending up as sushi in exclusive restaurants and tried to save these whales.
He tried to enforce laws against stripping shark fins away and throwing the poor creatures back in the water for a slow, painful death, so that Chinese gentlemen could get a hard on. He tried to enforce international laws against killing seals so that fancy women in Europe could wear mink coats. He went to the Faroe Islands to stop the annual “harvesting" of Pilot Whales for no better reason than they’ve always done it. (You might find it interesting to note that on the back of a Faroe bill is an engraving of a man clubbing a whale to death).
Let me try to put this in perspective. There have seldom been fundamental rights granted or enforced without the presence or threat of force. The barons at Runnymede, Martin Luther, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, the protection of minorities, and the list goes on. It’s interesting to note that in his 30-plus years, Watson caused no injuries, much less death.
I’m not making a case for Paul – he can and does speak for himself and what he believes in.
What distresses me is that governments, acting in our name, put fish farms, desecration of farmland, destruction of our rivers, pipelines and tankers, ahead of what really should count in life while so many of us vote for them.
As Pogo said in the famous cartoon of the 40s and 50s, “we’ve met the enemy and it is us.”
Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.