Tar Sands Pipelines: Our Moment of Truth
I’m writing this in Bergen, Norway, after a cruise from Leith (Edinburgh) Scotland that took us past many oil rigs – giving pause to remember that we’re as dependent on oil as we ever were – in fact, perhaps more so. A day or two ago I read in an article in the Guardian Weekly how the US, by growing corn for methane gas for cars, was contributing to starvation in the Horn of Africa. I thought of the passionate embracing of weaning ourselves off carbon fuels done by our governments as they rush to help Alberta further screw up the environment. While this is going on, I watch as president Obama wrestles with the long Trans-Canada pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico as celebrities march their way into jail in protest.
I reflect. We are, I think, at the moment of truth. Either we stop these pipelines or the environmental movement becomes like unions were under communism – pallid burlesques of what we once were, now reduced to patronizing speeches by corporations and governments when they feel the need for some fuzzy warmness from the inert masses that now do precisely as they are told.
Of course there is no environmental movement as such. I can’t even define what an environmentalist is when you have turncoats calling themselves environmentalists as they figuratively peddle their ass to corporate interests while pocketing huge bucks in the bargain.
I think I’m an environmentalist and place my record in government and in the media out for scrutiny, but I’m sure many would disagree. No matter, because what does count is how we all comport ourselves from this moment forward.
We are facing massive corporatist takeovers of our societies and the governments that are supposed to be our protectors. It scarcely needs demonstration in BC where, hand in hand, our governments have helped rapacious corporations ruin our fisheries, wreck our environment, make power we don’t need which our own power company must buy at a loss, while we cede our farmland and nature preserves to huge interests which have no stake in preserving our precious resources.
And now it’s pipelines across our wilderness and tankers down our priceless coastline. To rub salt in the wounds, we are asked to be prostitutes without pay – in fact, we are the legitimate hookers’ worst enemies, enthusiastic amateurs.
We must unite! This is the definitive fight. If we lose this, all is lost and we’ll be reduced to a land where there are a few “game” preserves to attract wealthy hunters and the occasional highly expensive streams where the rich can, after a lottery, fish at great profit to large international guide/outfitter companies. It’s as serious as that.
We first must know what we’re fighting – “who” doesn’t matter, for they all wear they same uniform and have the same mission. What we’re fighting for is simply stated: pipelines will burst and tankers will founder. We are not talking “risks” here but mathematical certainties. This is the truth of the matter and we must not be hoodwinked by talk of acceptable “risks”.
ONCE A ‘RISK’ IS TAKEN WITHOUT ANY LIMIT OF TIME OR EVENT IT IS NO LONGER A RISK BUT A CERTAINTY WAITING TO HAPPEN, THE ONLY UNCERTAINTY IS THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE.
Corporations spend huge amounts on “feel good” bullshit and the worse the polluter, the higher it’s piled. We must never lose sight of this.
What must be done?
I spoke of unity but fully acknowledge we can’t have a single coalition of all or even many environmental groups. Apart from the impossibility of such a merger, it would be a bad idea.
What must happen is that we all support those who have made the stopping of these pipelines their #1 priority. Such a group – led by the estimable author and co-founder of Greenpeace, Rex Weyler, is now active. What we all must do is multi-task and continue the battles we all wage, yet throw all the energy and funding we can into the fight against these pipelines and tankers.
I might as well spit it out. We must march and picket and refuse to give way – we will, then, be called upon to disobey the law. And, we must be prepared to go to jail.
The pattern will be the usual abuse of process practiced by the companies, fully supported by the governments they control. Picketers will be ordered by the court – which will issue injunctions turning civil protest into a crime – to cease by a judge from his lofty high paid perch, who will impress upon the sinner the need for the law to be obeyed even though it is a clear affront to justice. Picketers will refuse and will go to jail.
I offer this suggestion: We are up against a foe with a limitless amount of money, which, having obtained the law, not caring that justice was lost in the process, will continue to throw in jail for unlimited sentences decent citizens whose only sin is trying to protect their heritage.
We must also set up an ongoing fund to look after those attacked by the corporation/government. Not only will these folks lose their income, the companies will sue for damages and seize their assets, including savings and pension funds. This fund should start now and be set up with a trustee to look after those who will not only lose their freedom but also have their assets on the line for the common good.
Now…let us go to work, beat the bastards and save our heritage!