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

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

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read