Tipping Barrels in the Great Bear

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tofino2This past Christmas break I spent a week in beautiful Tofino, on Vancouver Island. There's a national park there, filled with ancient trees, striking coastline, and heaps of wild life. I hadn't been there since I was a kid and fell in love immediately. I couldn't believe I'd waited so long to go back to the beaches my hippie parents camped-out for entire summers, when they were young and before the area was a park. According to them, in the old days it was just logging roads, fresh fish and clams, and miles of Pacific coastline. A good spot for good friends. Not much has changed really, the roads are paved now and you can't camp on the beach anymore. When the surf is up surfers are abound. But there's trouble brewing in the region.

Back home a friend of mine had posted a video about surfing on the BC coast (below). It's not directly in Tofino, but North East of the area, in a place called the Great Bear Rainforest. This gorgeous little film is a cool mix of surf video and environmental journalism. I'm a big supporter of the environment, but frankly I find a lot of environmental documentaries depressing. Not because I can't stomach the truth, but because of the sentiment in which they're presented. This one is different in that sense; it's informative, and because it's more surf adventure than doomsday prophecy, it comes across palatable and compelling. If you have a few mins I think you'll enjoy it. It sure made me happy to be from this beautiful planet.


SpiritBearThe Great Bear rainforest is in British Columbia, Canada, the province that most of this site's creators hail from. It's a majestic region of old-growth forest, killer whales, spirit bears, and good surf.

If you watched the video you'll know that some folks from Alberta and their oily cousins from Ottawa want to put a pipeline through the Great Bear. Really? Really.

In August 2011 National Geographic published a short article explaining the story. In a nut shell, a Canadian company, Enbridge, wants to build an oil pipeline from the central province of Alberta to the coast. This pipeline would send crude oil from Canada's tar sands to tankers waiting off the rain forest. It's a great idea to help boost Canada's oil exports to Asia, but a spill would be a disaster to the area. The debate goes live this week as hearings begin for a federal review into the project. Facebook is starting to heat-up as well, as local BC'ers learn about the project and chime in with their two-cents or supporting links.

kitimat-map2I've been wracking my brain for an 'integral' response to this (beyond my knee-jerk-environmentalist-counterculture-fuck-you-anywhere-but-here-man response), but frankly it's a darn complex issue. How to begin weighing so many factors? - There's the national economy, Canada's geopolitical posturing as an energy player, global energy needs, climate change from fossil fuels, provincial indigenous rights, regional environmental sustainability, BC's strong local culture of nature conservation, citizen protest, the gnawing fact that this is supporting a dated industrial model yet is the only one we've got at the moment, the morality of protecting a vibrant environmental jewel, and doing our best to balance all stakeholder needs. 'Whew.

It's complex. The only middle ground I can come to is that A) it's morally wrong to send supertankers and pipelines through the region - for environmental and local community reasons - and I can't support it. But B) since we're going to be shipping our dirty oil to Asia (and we are, the government seems set on that) it makes sense to ship it out the West coast. So if not the Great Bear, where? 


Maybe, and I say this with great reluctance, it makes sense to ship it through Vancouver.

It's a shitty compromise, but it will protect the wild Great Bear and will place tankers and oil under the watchful eyes of 2 million NIMBY citizens who live near the port. If there's a spill, our collective disgust and anger will make the clean-up happen more quickly and effectively than if it were hundreds of kilometres up the coast where we can't see it.

In this case, as unpleasant as it may be, it may actually be better to have it in our back yard.

Of course, this compromise solution isn't a very good one. Trying to make everyone happy doesn't really bring anything new to the table, it only shuffles the pieces on the board. An integral response includes as much as possible, but it should also transcend. It strikes me that a middle path doesn't seek more radical solutions that transcend Canada's 'need' for oil altogether. It still exists in the old paradigm of breakneck-greed, pathological disassociation from our environment, and benefit for the few at expense of the many. So for now, what are we to do?

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  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Thursday, 12 January 2012 06:53 posted by Bergen Vermette

    If anyone's interested here's a link to a petition:


    and also some email addresses of local and federal representatives. Fire away!


  • Comment Link Sarah Olson Saturday, 14 January 2012 17:47 posted by Sarah Olson

    It seems unimaginable that this pipeline would actually go ahead, given all the experience we've now, unfortunately, had with projects of this nature. But as you say the government is committed to shipping out this oil, and no doubt there would be economic and political benefit to it.

    It's interesting, as you say that integrating perspectives although 'inclusive', isn't inherently transformative and we really need that 'transcend' piece at this critical moment... Makes me think of another way of describing that growth process (I think it comes from Hegel? Don't quote me) which is negate and preserve, rather than transcend and include.

    The negate piece feels really key to me, so we can still include as many prospectives as possible and work to protect those economic and pollicial factors, and say a resounding 'FUCK NO!' to the pipeline... Or something like that.

    When Trevor and I met we were both doing co-majors in Environmental Studies (me with biology, him philosophy), but environmental issues really have slipped out of my focus over the past few years. For various reasons I suppose. This pipeline issue really seems to be igniting that fire for me again. We simply cannot allow something of this potentially destructive magnitude to happen on our watch, can we? The cool thing is we've seen so many stunning examples of protest over the last few years (Wisconsin, Arab spring occupy, etc) that, at least for me, it seems to be a time of 'wake up! Things are happening and we can do something about it'. I'm sure others will think this is trite or naive or something but I don't care.

    I see plenty of signs of a shift towards engagement -from the 350 really bloody fired up people from all walks of life who just gathered for five days at ISE, to the fact that my Facebook feed these days is full of links, videos, petitions, rather than just narcissistic babble about vacations and what people ate for breakfast.

    Anyways some morning thoughts. Thanks for posting this. I heard on the radio that over 4000 groups and individuals (environmental organizations, first nations bands, etc) have applied to speak or present information at the Federal review hearings, so let's just pray that their (and our) voices get heard... If not, let's burn some shit. ;)

  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Monday, 16 January 2012 20:02 posted by Bergen Vermette

    Fuck no! As you say, and I agree. I wrote my first letter to the prime minister last week - telling him to scrap the pipeline - and felt damn good about it too. It was easy to forward it to a bunch of MLAs, MPs, the newspapers, and opposition leaders too. I just cc'd them all. A few responded. I felt like a good little citizen.

    Just so happens I was reading some of the Wilber excerpts last night and came across his mention of the Hegel (yep, you were right, it was Hegel) "negate and preserve". What he says of it isn't super obvious to me, but I'll reprint it here and maybe someone can help decipher it:

    "Hegel famously stated that "to transform is both to negate and preserve" -- which is simply his version of transcend and include. What is negated or transcended or gone beyond is the *exclusiveness* of the particular holon, or its claim to be the whole truth..." (Excerpt B: Notes #5)

    What's not obvious to me is how that would apply in this pipeline case. I guess we could say that neither side of the argument has a right to the whole 'truth'. But then, when there's only two obvious solutions, it's hard to look at it as anything other thna zero sum for both sides. Seems only a third way would break the stalemate, and we don't appear to have that yet. Or at least I don't know about it if we do.

  • Comment Link Matthew Lewis Monday, 16 January 2012 21:02 posted by Matthew Lewis

    Wow. After googling 'alternative to northern gateway pipeline', this link came up


    It suggest that the Northern Gateway Pipeline project is a ruse. Expected to fail due to public outcry, the goal instead was to expand tanker traffic in and around Vancouver, as well as expand shipment of bitumen on trains.

    Worth a read, it might be the most coherent and realpolitik appraisal I have read on the matter.

  • Comment Link Matthew Lewis Tuesday, 17 January 2012 02:06 posted by Matthew Lewis

    Here's some more info on crude oil coming through Vancouver.


  • Comment Link Amy Jean Cousins Tuesday, 17 January 2012 04:14 posted by Amy Jean Cousins

    Thanks for your passion on this issue Bergen.

    My friend and past-colleague Caitlyn Vernon has just written a children's book on the Great Bear Rainforest called, "Nowhere else on Earth". She is a campaigner from the Sierra Club BC and is giving a reading in Vancouver on Thursday. Please go and see her!

    When Jan 19, 2012
    from 07:00 PM to 08:30 PM
    Where Rhizome Cafe, Vancouver, 317 East Broadway
    Contact Name Caitlyn Vernon


    There is so much going on in the news right now, I can hardly comment on it. I encourage you to go and talk with Caitlyn about her work, and how you can get involved.


  • Comment Link Amy Jean Cousins Tuesday, 17 January 2012 07:23 posted by Amy Jean Cousins

    Hey - so I actually READ your article and not just the first few paragraphs and the title... ha! Sorry bro. I've got a few issues with it.

    The proposal to ship through Vancouver, I would argue, is not "Integral". The attempt to include everything is not integral. Include and transcend does not suggest including everything. We let go of what no longer serves.

    Of course, I've worked in the environmental field and have strong emotional responses to this and other topics concerning our planet, critters and people. I do, however, feel strongly that I have enough perspective on this issue to say -without fear of "integral" judgement -that there should, in no way, be any transport of crude oil through our province.

    I had a conversation with my sister the other day, and she said to me the Dogwood Initiative's "No Tanker" campaign is to "negative".

    I thought for a second (my face is, after all, on their brochure and I'm a strong supporter of their work). I tried to sense if she was serious. My reaction, I have to say was less then graceful. Having a few days to reflect on it I realize the problem.

    She, and others (like your comment above Bergen about the video) are trying to make the Environmental movement "palatable". Now, as an educator, you're right -it can't be all doom and gloom all the time: it's not inspiring, it's not productive. But there are times, when the situation is urgent, that the message has to meet the urgency of the issue.

    In the case of the XL Pipeline, there's no half ways. You can't sort-of-fix a leaky pipe. You either fix it or you don't. You either run a pipeline across our province and ship tankers along the coast -or you don't. Five versus five hundred won't make (much of) a difference: it takes one tanker to spill.

    The idea that Dogwood (or other groups) should "moderate" their position so that we find it "palatable" is upsetting. We're talking about our waters and our traditional ecological systems here, not to mention our responsibility as guardians of the last old growth forest ecosystem and our moral obligation to decrease our effects on climate change.

    And so far as suggesting an alternate route through Vancouver -I would have to caution around that as well, although I haven't read up on the link Matthew posted. My concern there, is that, yes, there will be many citizens to hold spills accountable, etc., but we're still giving into larger systems at play here, and -in my opinion -an Evolutionary worldview, or a post-post modern perspective has a vision for something better for our future. A new system.

    In the words of MP Nathan Cullen, old systems "should do what dinosaurs do and just die." See his video clip here on the issue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3cgxcBr_M0

    From an Interal lense, old systems should (and must!) Evolve. Let's evolve out of this shit storm that is the Tar Sands, and create a new sustainable economy for Canada.

    The partial truth here Bergen, is that we're in this mess and have to find a creative way out of it towards a sustainable economy. We don't have to justify the Tar Sands in the name of "everything is partial" -- in this instance, we just need something different all together.

    Some things are true, but applied in the wrong way. It is true that we need jobs. It is true that we need energy. But the contribution of the Tar Sands on the (true) issues of jobs and energy, are applied from a completely out-dated and un-evolved perspective, and should, therefore, be superseded by something NEW.


  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Tuesday, 17 January 2012 08:45 posted by Bergen Vermette

    @ Amy

    I completely agree with you that the route through Vancouver is a terrible idea.

    Even so, it was an interesting thought experiment to try to walk my mind through all the different possibilities and factors at play. It felt like a risk to consider alternatives, and in doing so I actually ended-up in stronger opposition to the pipeline. The benefit was I also got a better idea why the federal government would be all for it. You can see my little thought experiment in real time above:

    First I ask myself, "what's an integral response".

    I try to figure it out by considering perspectives, stakeholders, points of view, alternatives, etc. (and quickly realize I have no idea what an 'integral' response even is).

    Looking at all the pieces, I end up with an initial alternative - Vancouver.

    And yet, as I say above, it's not really a solution. It doesn't offer anything new. It's still within the same old paradigm. Unfortunately, a new paradigm doesn't really exist yet either, and so we have stakeholders playing with what they've already got and not really thinking in big terms. Hence the problem.

    The other point you make about palatability of the message, I agree with in spirit, but not in practicality.

    You're saying that this is such an important issue, we need to get the message out in whatever way possible, and not be concerned with "moderating" it or making it "palatable" to all ears. Cool. I get the do or die attitude, and I like it. Even so, every issue feels like THE most important one, to those championing it.

    So we yell and yell, but people stop listening after awhile. Then next week there's another all important issue. And pretty soon, some people just hear a meme, or a stereotype - like the radical environmentalist, or the psycho PETA people. The message gets lost in the listener's preconception of the messenger. They "already know" what they're going to be told. They've heard it before.

    I think if we want to reach people with a message we've got to think about who the audience is.

    The choir is already convinced, so we need language and media that can speak to a wider variety of people. That's why I don't think it's a good idea to be doom and gloom all the time.

    I like the educated and straightforward approach from the video you link to from MP Cullen. That's barking up the right tree in my opinion. And I really like the Tipping Barrels video, my reason for posting it was that it struck such a good balance.

  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Tuesday, 17 January 2012 08:58 posted by Bergen Vermette

    @ Matt

    killer link man, very good find. for those without time to read it (though it's well informed), here's a tidbit from the end:

    "Clearly, the number of oil tankers plying BC waters is scheduled to soar. The proponents of the plan intend that environmentalists will get sidetracked into debates about whether rail is less dangerous than pipelines, or Prince Rupert is a ‘safer' port than Kitimat, or whether to protect the North or South Coast from oil spills. So it's crucial to focus on two concurrent goals: first, a legislated oil tanker ban that would protect the entire BC coast.

    BC environmentalist Rex Weyler is among those calling for such a ban. "Who divided BC North/South like Korea?" Weyler wrote in a March 11th email. "Tankers threaten our coast everywhere! And we have actual tankers using Burrard Inlet and Georgia Strait right now today." In 2010, Kinder Morgan's tar sands pipeline delivered crude to 71 oil tankers at the Westridge terminal.

    "This ‘North Coast' idea," wrote Weyler, "has slipped innocuously into our language, invented by the oil industry and Liberal party insiders because the Liberals can pretend to be against oil tankers when they actually support oil tankers in Vancouver, and support tar sands expansion in Alberta, which is the root cause and reason for these tankers...This ‘North BC' and ‘South BC' language is a divide-and-conquer scheme dreamed up in some Liberal party back room or oil company strategy session. This isn't coming from the people of BC," wrote Weyler "We've never once talked about only saving half the coast, north or south."

    The second key goal: shut down the tar sands."

  • Comment Link Amy Jean Cousins Wednesday, 18 January 2012 03:55 posted by Amy Jean Cousins

    Hey - thanks for outlining your process. I appreciate your thought into this issue and all it's potential avenues.

    I think we agree on this.

    I'm not really suggesting a "do or die" approach -just an educated, straight forward campaign. Maybe I hang out with too many "radicals" to know the difference anymore:)

    See you at the public hearings -should be in Vancouver around the summer time so I'm told...

  • Comment Link Amy Jean Cousins Wednesday, 18 January 2012 04:00 posted by Amy Jean Cousins

    Just for laughs:


  • Comment Link Matthew Lewis Wednesday, 18 January 2012 17:53 posted by Matthew Lewis

    @ Amy

    If you click on the second link I posted, you'll see this, which refers to the oil which is already being shipped out Vancouver from the terminal/refinery just East of Second Narrows. Oil tanker traffic is present in Burrard Inlet and it's growing.

    "In operation since 1957, Westridge Marine Terminal exports crude oil (brought by pipeline from Alberta) to California and Asia."

    "Already, oil tanker traffic has tripled between 2005 and 2010, and is planned to triple again by 2016."

  • Comment Link Adrienne Cousins Thursday, 19 January 2012 22:20 posted by Adrienne Cousins

    Hello friends,
    I am Amy's sister who told her the Dogwood initiative's "No Tankers" campaign is too negative.

    I currently have some distance from this issue so I'm really responding as a citizen and critiquing as an organizational change "expert". I'm not currently active on any issues. I'm like a sleeper cell, and like Sarah I feel that I'm ready to jump back into the game.

    So, for me, I'm having the same response to "No Tankers" as I have to "The War on (fill-in-the-blank)". It doesn't express to me what we want more of. What alternative future are we collectively working towards? For example, my friend founded the Respect Institute. It's an anti-bullying organization, but that's not what she called it; she made it all about respect and how to get more of it and respect others. Well done. That's telling us that is missing instead of just telling us what's wrong. We know that part. Sure you can start with what you want to say NO to, but then I really need you to move quickly to what you're asking me to say YES to.

    As a major player and active organization I expect Dogwood, and others, to help articulate that for us. As Bergen points out, most of us aren't sure what alternative future we should be working towards. We know it has something to do with alternative energy... sure I agree deepening our social dependance on oil is bad because of climate change and environmental concerns of a spill, but I also remember this milestone we hit a few years back called Peek Oil... anyone remember that? ... the average person has no idea. You and me in this community (i.e. not the average person) also have enough knowledge and vision to understand that in the long run, deepening our economic dependance on oil is not smart either. So, why is this so hard to clearly and consistently communicate? And why is our "Harper" government so against supporting an alternative vision? (...a sad and rhetorical question...)

    What most people hear here is "Our iceburg is melting!". As outlined in his book Leading Change, organizational change expert John Kotter details the importance of vision - and clearly and consistently communicating that vision - in leading change. This is the change and transition management theory basics.

    This is why negative tag lines, project names and campaigns don't work for me on a personal or professional level. They're just not effective in reaching people in a way that will effectively help them "transcend" anything. People naturally resist being told "no", ...even turquoise people :)

    Unfortunately, I agree that the urgency is pressing. I get the impulse to yell "No! Stop there's a cliff!" ... you can't "Yes, AND" someone at the edge of a cliff... they're in danger, you have to say NO! State the boundary for your safety and others'. Absolutely. AND, what's the chance of a stranger listening to your cries who has no idea they're at the edge of a cliff? Slim to none. You have to have a pre-existing relationship, trust, respect, etc. to pull out the "No, now listen to me" card.

    Otherwise you get tagged as "radical", dooms day profit, no-to-everything, etc. What I'm seeing is the unfortunate reality that Dogwood and other organizations trying to reach people don't have the respect they deserve on this issue.

    Maybe because we don't see or believe that if we follow them, they have the cahoones to effectively lead us out of this mess. Maybe because they don't create jobs and support the economy we desperately need to thrive (they pay their staff in hand craft mittens, pot-lucks and pride). Maybe because they don't have a compelling vision. Because if they did, we would be more willing to trust and follow their lead.

    I can deal with a healthy does of uncertainty. But without a clear vision, Dogwood is basically asking for a leap of faith. And even Jesus can't play that card anymore.

    xox adrienne

  • Comment Link Adrienne Friday, 20 January 2012 06:17 posted by Adrienne

    Blah, blah, blah. Yes change management and the bigger, fossil-fueled-game is important to me and what I'm getting all fussy about, but please don't interpret this criticism as my not supporting the issue. As Amy knows, I signed the No Tankers petition years ago, in ink, in Victoria.

    I criticize like a cool objective outsider, but I really don't want more oil-infrastructure in this province or spills in our waters. So the right response is - How can I help?


  • Comment Link Amy Jean Cousins Saturday, 21 January 2012 07:26 posted by Amy Jean Cousins

    So Adrienne and I took this debate off line last night (best to spare beams a twin conflict). After an hour and a half of impassioned debate, I think we both learnt something.

    I've forwarded a link to this article to my dear friend and comrad Celine, organizer for the Dogwood Initiative, and she may chime in with some info we're missing here.

    As Adrienne said, all debates aside, the best answer is "how can I help?" I've organized environmental actions on behalf of 350.org in the past, and in response to my conversation with Adrienne last night, plan to begin organizing a presence in collaboration with my friends at the Dogwood Initiative and Sierra Club BC...and perhaps...you? :)

    All are welcome. Thanks for reminding me of what I'm good at.

  • Comment Link Gail Hochachka Tuesday, 24 January 2012 04:18 posted by Gail Hochachka

    Bergen, thought-provoking piece here that walks us through your internal pathways of considering this issue. Thanks!

    Adrienne, I get where you are coming from in your first post... there is this little voice in me that keeps surfacing in amongst all this no, no, no language: what are the environmentalists posing as an alternative? "A new system" could be possible, but needs some time to evolve and thus doesn't come as the next evident stepping stone overnight. What might be the next pragmatic stepping stone as an alternative?

    To not send that oil, we'd have to had weaned the global population off oil a couple decade ago. To not send the oil, full stop--well, that's pragmatically unlikely given that there is such immense demand pushing the program, during a time of economic downturn (not to mention the strategic move to stimulate competition with the US market and the incredible upshift in oil-based development in China). To send the oil without the pipeline and tankers, well, how? what is the alternative proposal here? (I heard something about trains...but that would still require tankers...)

    That's one thing I am curious about...

    The other thing I am curious about is China's development, and the moral question around that...

    But, point here is that I can feel into how in the midst of the no-campaigns, one begins to wonder, 'well, what then?' I think that that constructive turn might be a key switch-point for the movement on the whole and would have people's attentive ear in a different way than it does now.

    Although, maybe the no-diatribe is working since the discourse on the CBC and across BC (and certainly up where we are from in Smithers) seems to be pro-no-pipelines-no-tankers at this point...

    Bergen, for what it's worth, I like your thought-process around bringing the pipeline and tankers closer to home to Vancouver. Rather than being more NIMBY, let's bring it to where the heaviest oil use exists in the province and where we can keep a watchful eye on it. Not sure it would effectively work, and can see lots of issues with it too, but as a process, I appreciate your thinking in that direction...mainly because it is unique and submits an alternative, which we can then at least begin to ponder and discuss.

    This is fun. :) Thanks, Bergen, Adrienne and Amy, and others.

  • Comment Link Matthew Lewis Tuesday, 24 January 2012 19:26 posted by Matthew Lewis


    I am curious, what is the moral question around China's development?

  • Comment Link Juma Wood Tuesday, 24 January 2012 20:42 posted by Juma Wood

    Worth considering in light of the topic and Matt's last question:


    Matt, I assume your question is sincere and no trap and so will allow Gail to respond if she chooses and look forward to participating, as this could possibly take us deeper into the conversation.

  • Comment Link Gail Hochachka Thursday, 26 January 2012 19:01 posted by Gail Hochachka

    Hello again,

    I don't have too much time to delve into this unfortunately, and so this won't be a well-crafted response... :) I mentioned the moral question of this since it's something I think about... Though I've not landed on any one stance or solution. More, just questions at this point.

    Questions.... what would China (and Asia on the whole) do without the unconventional oils from Canada... would they get oil any way from, say, Nigeria and other parts of the world (places that have even fewer ethical and environmental standards)? Would they increase burning coal, which is dirtier than burning oil and even worse for the atmosphere and climate? Or, would the restriction in cheap oil mean they would develop renewables more fully and completely? Since I posted this last commented, I learned that China has been developing wind power energy in quantities that exceed the total energy usage in Canada!

    So, the question here is how does this oil, or not, factor into global development: since there are over 1 billion in China and that figure is only going up, and it is such a huge powerhouse in the global economy, the manner and rate at which the country grows and develops matters for everyone. It matters because if that population can develop towards a green economy, the entire world would be impacted. If it doesn't, and goes towards even more fossil fuel based development, we will all still be impacted. We are all so connected now.

    On the one hand, being a communist nation, governance decisions can be made on the spin of a dime and will be implemented in great swaths across the country (such as their immediate and complete moratorium on logging to reduce deforestation). On the other hand, that can go either way, and the question is which way will it go.

    Considering how this might go, we can look at the way consciousness has co-evolved with the modes of economic production and the manner of social organizing through history. (Keep in mind that though this is what history tells us, doesn't mean there can't be wild cards and unprecedented ways this might unfold...but for what it's worth, here's what we find in history...) Industrial development as a mode of production evoked the emergence of a rational mindset, modern worldview, and universalistic morality. From there, arose the demand for equal pay for women, workers rights, unions, as well as it being the first time in history where slavery was abolished. It was a huge stimulus for our own country's development. And it evoked an onward evolution towards relativistic thinking, postmodern worldview, and a pluralistic morality. So, the views we Canadians can hold now on, say, the Enbridge pipeline were an eventual result of our ability as a nation to develop to a stance where we could take that worldview. Marx said that the modes of production determined the modes of consciousness of a nation. Wilber tempered that and said that the modes of production are one of the heaviest influences on the social consciousness. However you cut it, the ways these two relate are important.

    Many developing nations are frustrated and angry that just when their development (in both economic and consciousness terms) is getting off the ground, developed nations are saying, "okay, that's enough growth now, as a planet we have to stop." Recognizing the unfairness and hubris to that, other voices out there are saying strongly that we need (and can manifest) green growth, not no growth. If one pays any credence at all to what we know of consciousness development, we have to see the (at least historical) need for industrial growth of some kind to co-arise with a worldview that are able to take more perspectives. And, historically, the industrial growth I'm referring to was oil-based.

    Which is why it feels to me to be a moral issue here... is it morally right for Canadians who love their ecosystems to restrain development of a country that finally has a chance to get out of poverty? Or, is it morally right for Canadians to restrain oil-based development in Asia and thus stimulate green growth (wind power, etc), given that it will go that way? Or, is it morally risky to restrain oil-based growth if it would translate into a massive increase of burning dirty coal (thus, undermining at a higher scale any protected Great Bear rainforest with increased carbon emissions and way quicker climate change)? Is it even morally okay for me to be posing these questions about the fate and livelihoods of people half a world away?! Or, is it morally incumbent on us to consider these questions since the entire world's climate is at stake here?!

    You see the complexity here, yes?

    For me the issue is not really or only a bioregional one. That is, bioregionally, the pipeline makes no sense. But, taking this to a global consideration, it's a whole other thing. Not that i have an answer, but it'd be great to see more such conversation on these angles, which for me are super relevant and interesting. I live on that coastline and love it, and of course don't want a pipeline through my backyard. But frankly I am thirsty for conversation beyond the NIMBY one.

    I don't mean to offend anyone here, and pose these most certainly as questions (about the pipeline, but about global development on the whole) since they remain very unanswered in my own mind and heart.

    Juma, I haven't read the url you posted above, but will check it out.

  • Comment Link Matthew Lewis Thursday, 26 January 2012 21:06 posted by Matthew Lewis

    Thank you for that great response!

    My thinking on development has been strongly influenced by my study of economics. Krugman puts it very well in the following piece.


    I also believe that trying to make a decision in how to develop the world economy, without a functioning and capable global political apparatus, is pointless. Trying to measure the different impacts in burning coal or burning oil extracted from the tar sands is difficult, and I don't think a useful exercise. I once considered in my own decision making whether it is better (in terms of green house gas emissions) to consume frozen orange juice concentrate or fresh squeezed orange juice. The answer is non trivial in a sense. The calculation and comparison of the two in terms of GHGs is beyond me at the moment. In another sense though, it is totally trivial in that I shouldn't be using time and energy to think about this. If it was 'better' to consume one or the other, and it really mattered, then the difference should show up in the pricing system. The price should signal to me which to buy. Implementing a carbon tax would accomplish this with minimal hassle.

    One more thought on development. It's quite possible we will be grappling with increasingly large problems that are more global in nature, such as climate change. Some of these problems will be completely unpredictable! An argument against restricting development of the world economy is that we will need resources/ideas/technologies/will power in order to grapple with these problems. As we grapple with climate change, I think and am hopeful that we'll see a more effective global political apparatus emerge in order to implement solutions to problems that are beyond the scope of any particular nation.

  • Comment Link Gail Hochachka Friday, 27 January 2012 20:41 posted by Gail Hochachka


    Thanks for circling back to this. Interesting read by Krugman... I agree with a lot of it, but may also soften some of the edges in certain ways, though others in the field, such as Sachs, report many of the same things. Thanks for forwarding the url!

    In regards to the Enbridge pipeline, I like where you are taking this conversation. I see this as a "scales issue"... (UN Millennium Assessment raises this as a central issue in addressing complex issues.) That is, that the issue can't be only addressed at one scale (say, local or even bioregional) since it's impacts and causes extend far beyond that. However, one can't only work at a global scale and disregard the local scale where changes have to occur too.

    Taking this conversation beyond only the NIMBY one makes sense to me, considering these multiple scales.

    I say yesterday an article by a sustainable energy researcher from SFU on the Enbridge debates who says something similar:

    "And where is the logic in the almost-complete focus on pipeline or oil tanker spills by environmentalists and first nations? If Enbridge is able to convince the hearing panel that these local threats are acceptable, then the project goes ahead. But since climate change will devastate all of the ecosystems potentially affected by the project, efforts to prevent local damage from spills are fruitless if they are not part of a concerted effort to stop CO2 emissions. Otherwise, it's like trying to prevent a fuel leak on the Titanic as it steams toward the iceberg. We need to turn the ship."


    I think my frustration in the above comments was exactly directed towards this "almost-complete focus by environmentalists on the pipeline and oil tanker spills"... that's only one part of the conversation, and though perhaps a fundamental part, not even necessarily the most significant part! Yet until this article above, I hadn't seen/heard much talk beyond it. Perhaps it is strategic, since spirit bears and old growth forest is what pulls peoples' heart strings, but is it an intelligent campaign to exclusively focus there?

    How Jaccard ends this article is where you end you last comment: a call for more effective global political apparatus that transcends (but includes) the particular nations involved.

    Thanks, Matthew! All the best, Gail

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