Thursday, October 15, 2009

Canada's (war)head is in the (oil)sands

image from

Fellow blogger, Merche Pallares, passed on a message from one of her fellow bloggers who asks bloggers to post on climate change today.

Of course, many readers will know that Canada is one of the worst nations in the world for polluting and failing to address the climate havoc we are causing. The Alberta Oil Sands project, which is an environmental destruction visible from the moon (should I say the bombed moon from now on?), is our premier claim to notoriety as polluting giant. The horror and extent of the environmental and social destruction is huge (forests, land, water, health, First Nations people and communities), demanding nothing less than a COMPLETE SHUT DOWN.

The oilsand project is destroying northern boreal forests in Alberta so quickly that soon an area the size of the state of Florida will be gone! Really, think about that. A forest area the size of Florida ruined, gotten rid of, bulldozed, lost, damaged, destroyed, contaminated, killed. But apparently that fact is not shocking enough for Canadians as polls show that our corrupt leaders headed by Stephen Harper, the notorious denier of the holocaust brought upon the First Nation's peoples through colonialism, would most likely get a majority government if an election is called.

The proof is staring us in the face: most Canadians don't really give a damn about the environmental or social destruction caused by the Oilsands. If we did, why aren't we rising up in outrage? In fact, many are rushing to Alberta to go to work (big money) and so participate willingly and greedily in this massive wholesale state and corporate TERRORISM on the environment and the people, primarily First Nations who live within its boundaries, but also everyone in the world due to its impact on climate change.

Indeed, while many people at home are asleep at the wheel (that is, busy with entertaining themselves with junk tv, shopping, holidaying, and other ills of consumer culture) not everyone so privileged has put their head in the (oil)sands. Just last week, "G77 delegates walked out on Canada’s speech at Bangkok climate negotiations last week" because we have failed and are "in fact the very worst in the world when it comes to meeting our Kyoto obligations and cutting greenhouse gas emissions." So reports Diana Bronson in "Canada Still a Rogue State in Global Climate Negotiations."

Why didn't I hear about this walkout on mainstream media? Why is it important for the Canadian media to tell me when Harper's government walks out on Ahmedinejad or the UN Conference on Racism but does not tell me when the world walks out on him?

The current Canadian economy is a war economy, that is, we profit (make jobs, build technologies, sell technologies, make money on, add to our GNP) by going to war. We profit by occupying Afghanistan and in our "hunt for Taliban" killing innocent civilians. War is Canadian business. Our war economy also gains by supporting the state of Israel which is in the business of killing innocent Palestinian people whose only crime is that they are Palestinians who refuse to go away. Israel is Canada's Business:

"Les Abelson, an international businessman who lived in Canada for five years doesn't need to calculate dividends to see Canada's effect on Israeli culture. Now living in Israel, he notices it everyday. 'I wake up, drive on the Canadian-financed Highway 6, and as I get close to Tel Aviv I see the lights of the Canadian-built Azrieli shopping centre, where I watch the double-decker Canadian Bombardier train speeding past me'."

Indeed, we are so supportive of the military state of Israel our Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently received the Presidential Gold Metal for Humanitarianism from B'nai Brith International, the first ever Canadian to receive the award as well as the first time a sitting PM has received it.

The old truism, "war is good for business" rings like an alarm bell in Canada today yet many cannot hear its clanging. The military industrial complex is a linking of the economy and war, with social damage, environmental destruction, and climate change as part and parcel of the business of war and war economies.

Below are some excerpts from some recent articles that address the links between war and environmental damage and climate change.

In her article Fight Climate Change by Ending War, Andrea Peloso writes:

Given the immensity of pollution caused by war, peace may be the only solution to global warming.
War devastates ecosystems with radiation, wasteful burning of oil and destructive use of resources that are needed for positive social purposes. [Barry] Saunders [in his book The Green Zone] explains:

“Here’s the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the Earth would still be headed head first and full speed towards total disaster for one major reason. The military…produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all of it’s inhabitants large and small, in the most imminent danger of extinction.”
Peace activists and ecologists have both known since the inception of the Iraq War that it is a war about oil, a war to continue the North American consumption and economic model as is -- an impossible illusion as oil is non-renewable and running out. Rex Weyler, founding Greenpeace member and ecologist, says, “Global warming is a symptom of human overshoot: the consumption and waste that exceeds the biophysical capacity of the Earth. If we attempt to reduce the fever, but ignore the disease, we will, at best, extend the suffering.”

The same thing could be said about war: war is a symptom of the consumption and waste that exceeds the biophysical capacity of the earth, and its people. War is a tool to maintain the current economic model of consumption for the powers that be for as long as possible."

In his article The Canadian Armed Forces & the Environment, Yves Engler begins by stating:

"Reducing the size of the Canadian Armed Forces should be a priority for those of us that want a more peaceful world. It should also be a priority for anyone concerned about the environment."

Below are some excerpts from his article:

"Military pollution reaches the highest clouds and bottom of the ocean floor. According to Navy guidelines, Canadian submarines are permitted to dump oily bilge water into the sea. Similarly, naval frigates are allowed to use the ocean as their trash can. In September 2007 the Globe and Mail uncovered changes to Navy policy that allow ships to dump food waste in the Arctic sea.
Government files suggest that there are 92 underwater spots in Canada potentially laden with unexploded ordnance. For nearly half a century, the Army pounded Lac Saint-Pierre, near Trois-Rivières Québec, with shells as big as 155 millimeters (the size of a fire log). DND admits that more than 300,000 projectiles have been tested in Lac Saint-Pierre and they maintain a year round 'caution zone' at the lake since there are an estimated 5000 live shells on the lake's bottom.
The Tsuu T'ina [First] Nation, close to Calgary, was littered with weaponry (such as air-to-ground rockets, 60-pound shrapnel-filled howitzer rounds and explosive mortar shells) used during the Boer War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. But the Army made a halfhearted attempt to clean up its mess. At the start of this decade Tsuu T'ina community member Samuel Simon complained: "In 1981, the military had 1,000 soldiers in here for 16 days. They certified the land free and clear of explosives, and then dumped it back on the nation. Since the military declared the land cleared, we have pulled out one million items of ordnance, expended rounds, live rounds.


Merche Pallarés said...

Everytime I read what you say about Canada, I'm in shock. How the country has changed since I lived there!! The Israel connection makes me sick. Excelent post. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

our country has changed a lot over the years, headed by the out-of-control train wreck called neo-liberal neo-conservativism. Canada is not a nation of peacekeepers it is a war economy today. Of course, our colonial history has always been about war against the First Nations, but now the myth of that peacekeeping narrative is busted for the world to see.

I hope the funeral went well, considering the tragic circumstances. Poor boy. I hope his grieving mother will heal from this loss.

Merche Pallarés said...

The funeral was absolutely packed. Mostly with young people (all his schoolmates) dressed in black. It was so sad to see them facing death at such an early age! My friend Dominique, I'm afraid, will never get over it. Yesterday there was a manifestation to protest that the driver (by the way, it wasn't because of the dog, there was no dog after all, it was because he was on drugs and driving at great speed) has been freed with charges but he was FREED. The protest was multitudinous. Thank you for your support, dear Taina. Hugs, M.

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