Another year of enviro-wars begins

Greenpeace stunt, Antarctic adventure go awry as media adds to alarm and confusion over environment

Stamp commemorates Douglas Mawson's 1913 Antarctic expedition

VICTORIA – The new year lurched to life with a round of shouting about the environment, as our post-industrial, post-literate urban society grapples with conflicting claims of impending doom.

The release of a group of Greenpeace protesters from a Russian prison was welcomed by TV news networks desperate to fill the holiday dead zone. Our intrepid Canadian pair got to describe over and over their bid to hang a strongly worded banner from a Russian offshore oil platform, and their horror when security forces boarded their vessel from helicopters and seized it.

In all the fawning interviews, I kept waiting for two questions to be asked. What did they think Vladimir Putin’s regime would do? And what was the point? How is disrupting one oil platform for an hour going to save the planet?

The Greenpeace “activists” claimed this was the first oil platform to operate above the Arctic Circle. So it was a line in the snow, which I’m sure impressed Putin as he ramps up his territorial claim to include the North Pole.

Meanwhile at the South Pole, TV anchors remained carefully sombre as they reported numerous bids to rescue a scientific vessel trapped in thick ice. No quips about the predictive abilities of climate scientists please!

In fact this ill-fated voyage was a re-enactment of Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1913 expedition, with pro-global warming news outlets BBC and The Guardian aboard to capture the melting wrought by a century of industrial expansion. The rescue efforts (from a Russian ship by Chinese helicopters) also disrupted an Australian icebreaker’s supply trip for one of the real scientific expeditions working in Antarctica.

Skeptics had great fun with the Antarctic debacle, as they did earlier with the resurgence of Arctic ice that trapped climate tourists.

As is normal in the Internet age, the climate debate has split into two fanatical factions, each of which promotes the most extreme examples it can find to prop up its version of truth. They call each other “warmists” and “deniers” among other pithy names.

Greenpeace is now known in B.C. as part of our Team America anti-tar sands brigade. They got off to a good start in 2014 by selectively seizing on reports of a new study of mercury contamination in northern Alberta.

A “bullseye” of this dreaded neurotoxin has been drawn around oilsands operations by measuring traces in snow. The study by Environment Canada scientists isn’t published yet, but Postmedia News reported on a presentation in November by the researchers.

“The federal scientists stress the mercury loadings around the oilsands are low compared to the contamination seen in many parts of North America including southern Ontario and southern Quebec,” the news report states.

This is like the study of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) pollution in northern Alberta lakes that was twisted into propaganda and fed to the news media last year. This is another group of neurotoxins that are far more concentrated in urban areas than around remote industry.

Consumption, rather than production of coal, diesel and other fuels produces the vast majority of these emissions. I look forward to the study of their effects around Lost Lagoon and Burnaby Lake.

Of course safe levels of these materials have been set by Health Canada. You’re more likely to get significant exposure to mercury from a broken fluorescent lamp or the mercury amalgam in your old tooth fillings than you are from feeding ducks at the lake, although you might get a whiff of PAH when you gas up the car or board the bus.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press.

Just Posted

West Kootenay highways a mess as heavy snowfall continues

‘Roads are very icy, people have to be patient and have to slow down’

Snowfall warning across the West Kootenay

A strong Pacific frontal system had Environment Canada issuing a snowfall advisory early Tuesday

Over $25,000 raised for Columbia Basin literacy

Success for 2018 Books for Kids campaign

Castlegar water rates set to rise for commercial, industrial users; no change for single-family homes

Multi-family residences are also likely to see a price hike in 2019

Thousands donated to Castlegar health centre campaign

Money will go to purchasing new equipment

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

Oogie Boogie, Sandy Claws and coffin sleigh part of B.C. couple’s holiday display

Chilliwack couple decorates their house for the holidays using Nightmare Before Christmas theme

Famous giant tortoise DNA may hold fountain of youth: UCBO

After Lonesome George’s death he still provides clues to longer life

First Nation sues Alberta, says oilsands project threatens sacred site

Prosper Petroleum’s $440-million, 10,000-barrel-a-day plans have been vigorously opposed by Fort McKay

North Okanagan site of first RCMP naloxone test project

Free kits, training to be provided to high-risk individuals who spend time in cell blocks

1 arrested after bizarre incident at U.S.-B.C. border involving bags of meth, car crash

Man arrested after ruckus in Sumas and Abbotsford on Thursday night

More B.C. Indigenous students graduating high school: report

70% of Indigenous students graduated, compared to 86% across all B.C. students

2 facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog found in B.C.

Amy Hui-Yu Lin and Glenn Mislang have been charged with causing an animal to continue to be in distress

Out of the doghouse: B.C. city lifts ban on pup who barked too much at dog park

Cameron the Shetland sheepdog is allowed back into Uplands off-leash dog park under some conditions.

Most Read