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Monday, December 12, 2011

7 Billion and One

As part of a discussion of a series of videos by Jack Alpert about rapid population decline (RPD), Tim Murray shared some personal experiences of life as seen through the lens of awareness of overpopulation, overshoot, and their inevitable consequences for children born today. His comments follow - yours are welcome.


Nearly two years ago, I received news that there was a new addition to my
family. My niece Gethsemane had just given birth to my "grand-nephew",
Oliver. That morning, my friend Michael noticed that my face carried a
different expression than was customary. It was a blend of expression of pride
and sadness. As soon as I told him about the birth, Michael reflexively
congratulated me, and when I confessed reservations, he was perplexed. "You
should be happy!" he exclaimed. I tersely responded, "Why?" His
answer was equally terse, and I think, profoundly revealing of our predicament.
"It's renewal!", he proclaimed.

At that point I wanted to tell him the truth. I wanted to tell him that we were
already getting 350,000 cases of "renewal" every day, that we are
adding more than 150 people to our numbers every minute, and 200,000 every
day---that's right----one city the size of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
every day-----and nearly 80 million every year. I wanted to tell him that were now
more people being born every day than there are primates in the world. That we
are pushing 50 other species off the plate every day, and pushing people in our
own species off the plate every day in the competition for scarce resources. I
wanted to tell him this, but didn't. I didn't because he was among those vast
numbers of people who didn't even understand that there was a problem. So where
could I begin, and when? Certainly not on a Tuesday morning when he was busy
with so many errands.

I faced a similar situation later that month. My neighbour Peter announced that
they had a new grandson. And not long after that, another neighbour, Rob, made
a similar announcement. Both were bursting with pride. How could I dare to
introduce the topic of overpopulation?

Now, earlier this week, I received a photo of my grand-nephew, Oliver, just a
month shy of his second birthday, sitting on Santa's knee for the very first
time. It instantly reminded me of my first time some 56 years ago. The memories
are still vivid. As soon as I saw Oliver, my heart warmed with delight. My
Malthusian beliefs were instantly overwhelmed by a raw emotional bond with this
little guy. If that was my reaction, you can imagine how the rest of the people
on the email list responded. They were, for the most part, grandmothers. People
over 60. They all gushed at this cute young boy.

All of us on the list replied with our thanks for having been chosen to share
this wonderful moment. But one of them responded to me as well. She was once my
sister-in-law, now a 65 year old woman and grandmother of two. She noticed my
email address, "gloomndoom". Like Michael, she was perplexed. What
was there to be gloomy about? Doom? What doom? Am I depressed about something?
Did a friend of mine die? Did I have a breakup with someone? Do I have a severe
illness? Once again, I initially wanted to tell her the whole truth, but then I
realized that now was not the time and place, and that it would take more than
one conversation to make her understand why there was cause for gloom. I would
need to walk her through a serious of mental decompression chambers. Telling
her, from the outset, that she was a murderer, or that we were in overshoot by
a factor of 100 would not likely secure her audience. She would more than
likely take it as an insult from a madman. I am obviously deranged, or in the
depths of clinical depression.

What lesson can I draw from the forgoing experiences? Jack believes that we can
build a grass roots "belief" consensus for RPD by first targeting
grandmothers. The kind of ordinary grandmothers who look at young children like
Oliver and find in them a source of love, pride and hope. He thinks that
youtube [videos] like the ones he has made can convince them to over-ride their
natural preferences and come to accept the bitter medicine of RPD and very low
fertility rates.

We know that we have our work cut out for us, but I think that it is very much
more than the most pessimistic of us can really imagine. While many people can
agree, on an intellectual level, that we are very much in overshoot, on a
personal level, those very same people apparently find no reason not to get in
on the party. We love kids and we love the idea of leaving a legacy. It's in
our cultural and genetic DNA. It's the tragedy of the commons....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When Corporate Media Goes Rogue

While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes Freudian pronouncements about ramming his tar sands pipelines through the West Coast, the Vancouver Sun newspaper leaps aboard the PR train, doing its part to boil you even faster. Here is guest outrage from Friend o' the Frog Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International and a member of the citizen's group Tanker Free BC:


The Vancouver Sun announces promotional partnership with Enbridge!

This week the Vancouver Sun made it perfectly clear that it no longer pretends to be
in the business of journalism, and has accepted a full promotional partnership with
Enbridge, Kinder-Morgan, Syncrude, Shell Oil, Petro-China, and other large corporations
that would like to turn British Columbia into the tar sands shipping port

For example, see the photograph below from Jens Wieting at Sierra Club BC.

On Friday, the day after 70 BC Indigenous nations added their signatures to the Fraser River Declaration, bringing the total number of indigenous nations to 131 BC nations declaring "No Tar Sands development on our traditional territories" -- with a public ceremony at Vancouver's Public Library, with public presentations by chiefs, from nations who had completed in-depth research, due process, legal analysis, and after conferring with their people and councils, the Vancouver Sun ran two front page stories about ..

"Dog Rescuers" and "Problem Gamblers"

Then, on Saturday, when one lone member of the Gitxsan Nation allowed his name to be associated with a story promoted by Enbridge that the Gitxsan Nation would take the Enbridge bribe of $7 million to support the pipeline -- a story that turns out to be completely false according to a statement from the Gitxsan people later that day (see below), who say no such deal has been completed, that the community had not been consulted, and that they are "outraged" by this premature and false announcement -- the Vancouver Sun ran a full, 5-column banner headline declaring:

"Gitxsan support Enbridge pipeline"

With this act of corporate public relations, the Vancouver Sun has made it clear once and for all that it no longer considers itself a "news" paper or voice of the people of BC, but has fully accepted it's role as an arm of oil company and corporate promotions. Without checking its sources, without confirming the story with the Gitxsan community, the Vancouver Sun accepted this piece of Enbridge public relations hype as "news" and blasted out a front page headline, ignoring the 171 BC First Nations who had just declared:

"No tar sands development on our traditional territory," and who stated unequivocally: "These pipelines will not be built."

The Vancouver Sun and its editorial board and reporters have exposed themselves as the Fox News of BC. They can change their name to the Foxcouver Sun, "bringing you the corporate spin as soon as it is available."

Thank Gaia we have The Tyee, Vancouver Observer, Watershed Sentinel, Common Ground, Common Dreams, and other means of getting actual news.

Adios, once great newspaper of BC.

See photo below of the front pages, and read the actual Gitxsan statement below.

On the left, Friday's Vancouver Sun cover page the day after 131 First Nations announced they will not allow the Enbridge pipeline through their territories. On the right, Saturday's Vancouver Sun cover page the day after one First Nation individual erroneously announced that his nation would make a deal with Enbridge and support the pipeline.

[Thanks to Jens Wieting at Sierra Club for this visual comparison.]

December 2, 2011 Gitanmaax, B.C.…

…“The Gitxsan people are outraged with the Enbridge Northern GatewayPipeline Agreement”…

Contrary to the announcement of Elmer Derrick of today’s date, therepresentatives of the Plaintiffs to the British Columbia Supreme Court Action No. 15150, cited as Spookw v. Gitxsan Treaty Society, oppose the Agreement. TheGitxsan plaintiffs include Hereditary Chiefs and four Gitxsan bands with apopulation of over 6,000 Gitxsan people; the majority of whom are House members in the Gitxsan traditional system represented by Hereditary Chief, Spookw, inthe court action.

The representatives do not support Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline agreement entered into by Elmer Derrick and state “Elmer Derrick and the Gitxsan Treaty Society/Gitxsan Economic Development Corp. does not speak for all Gitxsan. The Gitxsan people had no knowledge of the proposed Agreement nor were they consulted”. The Plaintiffs contend that the Gitxsan Treaty Society, or the Gitxsan Development Corporation, does not have the authority to enter into such Agreements without consulting or being authorized by the Gitxsan people.

Knowledge of the signed Agreement was only obtained through media, much like the Gitxsan Alternative Governance Model of May 2008, the subject matter of litigation in Spookw v. Gitxsan Treaty Society.

The representatives say that not only were the communities not consulted, but importantly, the Environmental Review Process is not yet complete with community hearings being scheduled for January 2012; therefore, a decision to support it is, at best, premature. Until the Environmental assessment is complete there is no basis for saying this project is safe to build.

The Representatives say the 7 million dollars is a pittance in comparison to the potential environmental impacts which will be catastrophic. The GTS/GED is willing to jeopardize the sustenance of the First Nations people for a few million dollars is reprehensible and is not supported by the Gitxsan people.

Mr. Derrick espouses the importance of Gitxsan Law; however, breached such law by announcing and celebrating the Agreement on the day of the funeral of an elder matriarch and Hereditary Chief. This type of conduct brings shame and is disrespectful to the grieving family and the traditional system.

The representatives say that Mr. Derrick has embarrassed and shamed the Gitxsan people by undermining the 61 First Nations who are opposed to the project. The representatives say “We stand in solidarity to those opposing it.”


For an added comedy bonus, Rafe Mair has contributed his excerpts of an actual interview with Chief Elmer Derrick (the kind of news-related work the Vancouver Sun didn't do before publishing Enbridge's press release), that came out yesterday in the Terrace Daily Online:

REPORTING · 3rd December 2011
Merv Ritchie

One week ago, on Friday, November 25, 2011, the Regional District Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) took the extraordinary step of unanimously supporting a single project for the Provincial Governments “Community Recreational Grant Program”. They had more applicants and could have even listed their choices in order of preference, but they were steadfast and determined. The Gitxsan Nation had worked so hard, united and together for this one dream, the new Sports Arena to replace the crumbling Ken Trombley Memorial Arena in Hazelton, they decided they would risk everything to show their support for the Gitxsan people and their demonstration of unity by offering the Province no other alternatives.

Elmer Derrick may have just flushed that new found hope and dream of a unified people down the toilet. Just what did Enbridge promise him? He claims one fortieth of ten percent. That made one media spokesperson openly chuckle.

Three and a half years ago Derrick did essentially the same thing. He heads up the Gitxsan Treaty Office (GTO) and the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS). Without consulting the Gitxsan people he held a media conference and announced to the world a new Gitxsan Governance Structure. The Gitxsan people heard about it first through the media just like today they are hearing they suddenly support Enbridge on the nightly news.

Even Derrick fumbled badly when asked who he speaks for and where he gets his authority he had the following answers to these questions:

Are the Band Councils on Board with this decision?
I don’t know […] I haven’t solicited any opinions from the Band Councils

Can you legitimately speak for all the people?
Our title holdings (referring to being a Hereditary Chief) have been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada.

But you didn’t confer with any of those elected officials?
Well we send out information and talk to ah, we’ve been talking to as many people as possible in the past six years.

Who was actively participating in reaching this agreement with Enbridge, just you?
No input from Band Councils but we have a staff

Was it ultimately your decision then?
Not necessarily, I just do the negotiations for the nation.

Do the actual members of the first nation support this, do you even know?
Most of them do.

How do you know?
Just from talking to people.

So, no consultation, no referendum, no Chief meetings, no community polling, no input whatsoever, “just from talking to people”, and that is good enough for Elmer and Enbridge to host an international media scrum.

When asked why he chose now to make this announcement he answered this way:

Why did you choose now to sign?
The opportunity to sign today that’s all

How much did the announcement this week, by many First Nations that didn’t support the pipeline or tankers, influence today’s announcement?
I really wasn’t aware, unfortunately, of the details of the announcement that came out yesterday or the day before. So this announcement today has no bearing on what’s been done over the past day or so.

Just another coincidence it appears, only a couple of days after a united statement of solidarity by BC First Nations communities, Enbridge suddenly makes a signing opportunity available for Chief Derrick.

How many kilometres of that pipeline will run through your nation’s territory?
There is actually none that will run through our territory.

How do you think your decision will affect your relationship with other first Nations in the Area?
Hopefully it will not impact our relationship negatively, we’ve always been frank with our opinions on different projects and we respect the positions taken by the other First Nations, our neighbours.

At the end of the day will it be Hereditary Chiefs who decide how the money is spent?
It’ll be, ah, it’ll be ah, it’ll involve the whole community.

So you don’t really have a structure for the money will be distributed?
Oh, we do.

So how will you consult the community?
Well we ah, um, like we always do, we have continual meetings with everybody.

Where does the decision making process end?
Well there will be a board and professional administrators

The complete interview is here.