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

Tenants sought for Metchosin elementary school

Cushman Wakefield Ltd. Victoria will be responsible for leasing the space

Colwood implements first traffic calming policy

Policy dictates types of roads traffic calming measures can be installed on

Island Highway has reopened in View Royal

Pedestrian struck near Shoreline Middle School

UPDATED: Pellets shot at window of B.C. Transit bus

Bus was travelling near Craigflower and Admirals roads Wednesday morning when window was hit

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Post interest rate hike debt tips

What to do about your debt and mortgages after the interest rate hike

Foreign workers sleeping in Alberta Burger King basement

Alberta Health Services said its inspectors found foreign workers sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant

Court application halts release of bread price-fixing documents

Bread price-fixing documents won’t be unsealed Thursday, Loblaw says

Pharrell and N.E.R.D to headline NBA All-Star halftime show

11-time Grammy winner Pharrell and his hip hop-rock band N.E.R.D. will headline the halftime show at the 2018 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles

Heritage Minister wants zero tolerance for harassment in entertainment industry

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly had two meetings to discuss harassment in the film, TV and theatre worlds

Newly freed Diab wants reforms to Canada’s ‘lousy’ extradition law

French authorities dropped terrorism charges against Hassan Diab who was suspected of taking part in an attack in Paris in 1980

Russia probes come up against claims of executive privilege

The argument was laid bare this week during Steve Bannon’s interview with the House Intelligence Committee.

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

Most Read