Monday, December 30, 2013

Oil and Dirty Water - The Bear Dilemma


Our environment is at a crux. We've taxed our resources in some areas, we sell off resources in other areas, and seem to have little regard for the future of the species we show on endangered lists. Nature isn't inexhaustible, and to be sustainable our resources require custodial care.


Seals, one species of wildlife along the BC Coast, by DG Hudson


Permits and licenses are approved, panels are established, and yet concerns are discounted when there is a vested business interest. Compliance costs money, recovery takes time and will never totally return damaged areas to their original state.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the habitat for grizzly bears, black bears, and the Kermode bear, also called the Spirit bear by First Nations. For more on the Kermode, see an earlier post here. Clean water provides for these creatures. Oily water will do the opposite. Kermodes are the most at risk, with their lower numbers. Wake up, Canada, and take care of what's important.


Beautiful BC Coast - Keep Our Waters Clean, by DG Hudson

This coastal area, a diverse ecosystem, is located between Butte Inlet on the South Coast of BC and the Alaskan border.

http://www.bcadventure.com/adventure/bearwatching/ Grizzly Bears

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_black_bear Black Bears wiki


Fewer than 400 Kermode bears survive in this area that is unique in the world. Gribbell Island is the main habitat, while Princess Royal Island is home to about 120 of the enigmatic Spirit Bears. They are not albinos, nor are they related to Polar bears, or the 'blonde' brown bears of Alaska. They are a sub-species of the black bear.

Potentially, this habitat is under threat from the proposed oil pipeline and associated oil tankers which will ply these northern waters, an area known for unruly winter storms.  Oil tankers come in a variety of shapes, some in excellent condition and some that aren't. Most aboriginal groups oppose the pipeline, but almost all First Nations peoples want a part in deciding what crosses their reserve land. They are custodians.

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Numerous newspaper articles have been written about the sole habitat of the Spirit Bears, two of the islands situated in the channel which the tankers will use. This post was inspired by 'Federal review panel gives green light to Northern Gateway pipeline - First Nations considering legal challenges that could delay project'. A Vancouver Sun article by Gordon Hoekstra, Larry Pynn and Derrick Penner in the Westcoast News section, December 20, 2013.

 
Young Spirit Bear (Kermode) Wiki Image


Just a bit about oil tankers or petroleum tankers, a merchant ship which transports oil: there are two types - the crude tanker and the product (refined) tanker. They range in size  from inland or coastal tankers to the mammoth ultra large crude carriers. That's a lot of dirty oil, which as we know, mixes poorly with water. Perhaps we should  convert to plug-in cars. . .


The Northern Gateway proposed pipeline route to Kitimat BC would mean that tankers which will carry this oil overseas will be navigating in what is called, 'the fourth most dangerous waterway in the world'. This assessment is from an advocacy campaign which wants to protect what nature has given us.

Look at Enbridge's record, it speaks for itself. "All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put the water back together again. . ."

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What do you think about protecting resources? Should governments have a stronger mandate on the environment?  Should First Nations have a strong say in how their territorial lands are used? When is it okay, if ever, for governments to push through programs the people DO NOT want?

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Hope you have a great New Year! Best wishes for 2014 to all who stop by!

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References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/16/enbridge-douglas-channel-islands_n_1789223.html Enbridge in Douglas Channel and the missing islands.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_tanker

My Other Spirit Bear posts:

http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2013/11/the-spirit-bear-and-great-bear.html

http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2012/09/spirit-bears-and-woolly-mammoths.html

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24 comments:

  1. Navigating one of the most dangerous waterways sounds like a bad idea.
    I've never seen a spirit bear before. Didn't know they were white.

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    Replies
    1. Not many people have seen Spirit bears in nature as they live in remote areas. A few photographers have been able to capture the bear in the wild..

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  2. I think our resources should be used wisely and not wasted or exploited. Progress should not be hindered, but it should be kept in check.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  3. Wow. Shows you how little I know about bears. I just thought they were related to polar bears, but they share the same features as a black bear.

    Thanks so much for this.

    And Happy New Year!!!

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    Replies
    1. Makes me wonder at all the secrets we don't yet know in Nature's world. . .

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  4. A species can only be destroyed once. There is no "I am so sorry -- Let me make this up" on this kind of genocide.

    I can only pray that this gets enough media attention to awaken the politicians. But Big Money interests are hard to fight. Sigh.

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    1. The media has been featuring both sides of the issue, with an emphasis on what's at stake. Your comment reminded me of Ender and his act of near-genocide (he did save the Queen).

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  5. It's so SAD to see what governments ALLOW big businesses to get away with... it's all about money and power.

    So many creatures are on endangered species lists. And it is abominable. Most people want to live with clean water, air, and land, BUT governments do whatever they want for the 'good of the people" more like for the good of their bank accounts!!!

    I've never seen a spirit bear.... SO cute! Like the polar bear they must be saved!

    Thanks for sharing this D.G.

    Wishing you the best for 2014!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure in spreading the knowledge, I'm a latent environmentalist, I suppose.

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  6. I feel like in the last ten years or so we've been going backwards in putting human greed before taking care of the planet. I hope the planet wins more in 2014.

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    Replies
    1. I agree, Susan. It seems Business trumps Nature as we scramble for the 'Global dollar'.

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  7. Interesting and sad issues here. I cringe at your question about 'should governments push through laws that the people don't want"?

    In the US our government is supposedly, 'for the people and by the people', but there is so much that is forced upon us that most people don't seem to want.When it comes to issues regarding the environment and natural habitat of most creatures, it seems that it is a case of the few dictating to the many.

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  8. Well said DG. Such beautiful pictures too.

    ......dhole

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    1. Thanks Donna and best wishes for 2014!

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  9. When will humans ever learn? So many endangered species, some already extinct. Just can't seem to learn the lessons. Thanks for the post and the pictures.

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    Replies
    1. Canada and Australia have some important species to protect, with the great variety of animal life that live in both places. When will government sources listen to our scientists?

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  10. I don't believe that the earth will survive human greed. I believe that Canada's First Nations should be able to decide what passes through their land. I know they would continue to protect the bears. Why in the world are these tankers going through such dangerous waters? Is there any other way for them to travel? I somehow believed Canada to be better than this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's just say SOME Canadians are aware and are doing their utmost, including university professors, freelance photographers, journalists. Business on the other hand. . .

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  11. We all certainly have the responsibility to maintain the environment for the animals that live there, and for future generations. If drilling occurs in these areas, it should only be done if there's minimal risk to the environment.

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    Replies
    1. Zoos don't do a great job either, natural habitats are important. It's a problem that will get worse if attention isn't focused on it now.

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  12. When is it okay to push through those programs? Never. But they do it in so many areas now that it's frightening. That's why our government shut down for almost a month. It certainly wasn't what the people wanted.

    Such a pretty bear. I don't believe I've ever seen one in a zoo.

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    Replies
    1. Spirit bears survive today because their habitats are remote. That will change with a tanker route.

      They are generally more docile than their black bear cousins.

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