Monthly Archives: June 2010

Words are our servants, not our masters…

These are the words of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in a book he wrote in the mid-1980s The Blind Watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design:

For different purposes we find it convenient to use words in different senses. Most cook books class lobsters as fish. Zoologists can become quite apoplectic about this, pointing out that lobsters with greater justice could call humans fish, since fish are far closer kin to humans than they are to lobsters…

And thus, fair enough… we conveniently use different words for different purposes. Yet, maybe we should be cautious about just how ‘convenient’ that use becomes…

From the “abridged” version of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement:

Major forestry companies as represented by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) working in the Boreal region of Canada have come to a historic agreement with nine leading environmental organizations, setting down collective wording on joint activity regarding the future of the Boreal Forest in Canada

However in this cookbook — or “roadmap” — that has been drafted into the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (or prevalent in the Wild Salmon Policy for example, or all of the Provincial efforts I highlighted in my last post regarding the latest trend in: “ecosystem-based management” ; more akin to polishing turds…).

Everyone’s doin’ it… it must be good…

Unfortunately, “ecosystem-based management” is the proverbial bandwagon. Everyone’s on it and has the t-shirt to prove it – even Gordon Campbell, and Arnie, and “Steve” Harper. I’ve got the design picked out… it’s the tag line from the Vancouver Olympics “Believe“… but it will be on a green toque… made of eco-certified (third party verified), shade grown (fourth party certified), fairly-treated sheep (sheep audited), fairly traded Shetland wool (Scottish certified).

"Believe" Bandwagon gear

See… I received an email today from another enviro group involved in the signing of the Boreal Forest Agreement (a group that has generally always operated strongly at the margin).

They don’t agree with my analysis — fair enough (folks often don’t agree with me…for example “no, Dad, it’s not bed time…I’m not tired.”)

Unfortunately, the message reeks of corporate spin doctoring, cut-and-paste, rinse-and-repeat if necessary…and…well… “believe” (or, we know best):

The CBFA establishes a process for resolving the conflicts between nine environmental organizations and FPAC and its member companies, as well as a roadmap to shared goals.

These goals include a network of protected areas throughout the Boreal Forest; the recovery of species at risk, including woodland caribou; and development and enforcement of improved forestry practices at a standard of the Forest Stewardship Council or higher.

The cynical elf on my shoulder asks: if logging companies were so concerned about building a network of protected areas, recovering species at risk, and developing better forestry practices… why didn’t they just do it themselves? They have the tenures to those areas… and the simple ability to work all of those “goals” into their forest development plans…

Well… because the part that isn’t mentioned in the enviro-spin-doctoring is what the industry is really after: consistent fibre supply, without those nagging “market campaigns”.

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And unfortunately, this “roadmap” (or cookbook) of “collective wording” (suggesting “wording” by committee — and we all know how well that goes…) has decided to sell “ecosystem-based management” as expensive lobster, listed in the fish section of the cookbook. Yet, the lobster is probably closer to a caribou, then it is to a fish… (fish being closer to us, then lobster…). And this goes back to ‘convenient wording’.

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This also harkens back to the email I highlighted the other day that suggested that another particular enviro organization PR-rep had full faith in the “science underpinning the Agreement”.

Sadly, the science “underpinning” ecosystem-based management is about as clear as using a cookbook to perform biological classification, or a roadmap to understand caribou migrations.

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If you had a chance to read posts last week, you may remember my quotes from George Orwell’s 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, for example:

Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, … are used to dignify the sordid process of international politics…

I would add in the term “world-leading” to Orwell’s list –as I’ve come across it a couple of times in just the past week, Enbridge Pipelines propaganda that landed in my Prince George mailbox, and from the “abridged” version of the Agreement on the CBFA website (original still isn’t posted):

Goal 1.
World-leading Boreal “on-the-ground” sustainable forest management practices based on the principles of ecosystem-based management, active adaptive management, and third-party verification.

If that’s the case folks… then how do you reconcile “world-leading” principles of ecosystem-based management with, for example, Ecuador’s Constitution adopted in 2008, which gave rights to nature — the only one of its kind in the world… otherwise known as “world-leading”?:

Chapter: Rights for Nature

Article 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.

Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognition of rights for nature before public institutions.

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Spin-doctoring can be hard work… however, it’s even harder to say what you mean, and mean what you say. As… words truly are our servants, not our masters. Lobsters are not a fish… and ecosystem-based management is not a “science”, and certainly not world-leading anymore, it’s as prevalent as… well… the term: “world-leading”

Boreal Forest Agreement… absurdity grows + Greenpeace, read your own material, are you not “polishing a turd”?

Maybe it’s a general feeling in the air… maybe it’s a universal force that has decided to crack down on the waste of hot CO2 emissions — the biggest culprit?

Us. Humans.

It’s called how to say a whole lot, without saying anything at all. Seth Godin has a great short little post on this very issue today — I’ve taken the liberty to replace his example, with empty, meaningless language from the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. His post:

But you’re not saying anything

And this is the problem with just about every lame speech, every overlooked memo, every worthless bit of boilerplate foisted on the world: you write and write and talk and talk and bullet and bullet but no, you’re not really saying anything.

It took me two minutes to find a million examples. Here’s one, [“The shared challenge is to address sometimes conflicting social, economic, and, and environmental imperatives in a manner that captures the economic opportunities that are emerging for forest products of the highest environmental quality.”]

Write nothing instead. It’s shorter.

Most people work hard to find artful ways to say very little. Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?

Funnily enough, if you visit the Greenpeace USA website there is an entire campaign dedicated to “Stop Greenwashing“.

Every day, Americans are bombarded with advertising about environmentally friendly goods and services. But how many really are green, and how many are just pretending?

Yeah, Greenpeace, I couldn’t agree more. And how does Greenpeace define this issue?:

These days, green is the new black. Corporations are falling all over themselves to demonstrate that they are environmentally conscious. The average citizen is finding it more and more difficult to tell the difference between those companies genuinely dedicated to making a difference and those that are using a green curtain to conceal dark motives.

Uh, huh. And better yet Greenpeace has four criteria for their “Stop Greenwash” campaign: Dirty Business, Ad Bluster, Political Spin, It’s the Law Stupid.

Dirty Business:

Touting an environmental program or product, while the corporation’s product or core business is inherently polluting or unsustainable. For example, if a company brags about its boutique green R&D projects but the majority of spending and investment reinforces old, unsustainable, polluting practices.

Hmmm, could this maybe be like many of the signatories to this “historic” “world-leading” Agreement. This has been raised by other critics to this Agreement. For example, go visit Environment Canada’s website: National Pollutant Release Inventory for the Pulp and Paper industry. I went to, for example, ID number 1 on the list, which is one Alberta Pacific’s (signatory to Agreement) mills in Alberta.

What is it releasing? Well…in 2008:

  • 171 kg of Arsenic
  • 282 tonnes of Volatile Organic Compounds.(things like formaldehyde, acetone, chlorofluorocarbons — great things for living critters to process).
  • 763 tonnes of sulphur dioxide.

Logging in the Boreal Forest, and particularly this agreement are about: “maintaining essential fibre supply for uninterrupted mill operations” (CBF Agreement website). That fibre supply is meant to keep pulp and paper mills going. Producing pulp and paper at its very nature — is a polluting business.

Thus, Greenpeace, is this Agreement not “allowing companies to brag about [green logging practices but keep the] majority of spending and investment reinforcing old, unsustainable, polluting practices” ?

Sure a couple of caribou might be happier out there in the hinterland — but what about the people that are left breathing, absorbing, and circulating the long time pollutants released from the pulp and paper mills from your partner signatories?

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Ad Buster:

Using targeted advertising and public relations campaigns to exaggerate an environmental achievement in order to divert attention away from environmental problems or if it spends more money advertising an environmental achievement than actually doing it. For example, if a company were to do a million dollar ad campaign about a clean up that cost less.

Hmmm… so Pew & Ivey Foundations; how much has negotiating, brokering, and funding this “Agreement” cost to this point in time, and over the next three years?

And Greenpeace, what about the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of all the jet flights involved?

worth it?

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Political Spin

Advertising or speaking about corporate “green” commitments while lobbying against pending or current environmental laws and regulations. For example, if advertising or public statements are used to emphasize corporate environmental responsibility in the midst of legislative pressure or legal action.

Ummm, Greenpeace, I’m guessing you’re familiar with aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada… only a “few” outstanding legal actions there. And how many of the logging company signatories have outstanding legal actions surrounding their logging practices and/or pulp and paper production?

Are these companies going to share their current lobbying efforts in all of the Provincial capitals and in Ottawa — surrounding logging practices, effluent and toxins releases, and other matters? What about caps on carbon emissions, or sulphur dioxide, or formaldehyde… like the elevated levels in the Prince George, BC area?

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It’s the Law Stupid

Advertising or branding a product with environmental achievements that are already required or mandated by existing laws. For example, if an industry or company has been forced to change a product, clean up its pollution or protect an endangered species, then uses PR campaigns to make such action look proactive or voluntary.

So when I did a quick search online I found that several (if not all) Provincial governments are already enacting “ecosystem-based management” as a core principle in forestry and other resource industries, for example:

Your B.C. Government is applying ecosystem-based management to protect key elements of old growth forests, such as representative ecosystems, freshwater ecosystems and critical grizzly bear habitat. (Province of BC website: entire site dedicated to ecosystem-based management)

To maintain ecosystem health the Conservation Strategy recommends “that the Government of Alberta and forest land users adopt and implement ecosystem-based forest management as quickly as practicable.

To provide direction for developing long-term forest management plans that are consistent with Saskatchewan’s commitment to both ecosystem-based and sustainable forest management.

A pilot project on the east side of Lake Winnipeg was conducted as a first step to implementing Manitoba’s Forest Plan Towards Ecosystems Based Management. The forest plan is a long-term framework to create ecosystems-based forest management.

The Ministry of Natural Resources manages wildlife to ensure it is healthy today and available for future generations to enjoy. Ontario’s wildlife managers know that individual species are part of complex ecosystems. While management decisions are often directed at certain species, these decisions are made in the context of the entire ecosystem. This is an ecosystem-based approach to wildlife management.

Identification of ecosystem management zones (EMZ) for multiple resource use, accounting for approximately 70% of the available productive forest. In the EMZs, ecosystem-based management with the goal of increasing the supply of goods and services derived from various forest resources (e.g. timber, wildlife, leisure and tourism, etc.) with a view to achieving integrated management. (Government of Quebec document Forests: building a future for Quebec)

(make sure you read all of these with the voice of a cheesy radio announcer… it’s more fun that way).

So, who really is advertising a product or brand (e.g. Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement) when several of the ‘celebrated’ principles of this agreement are already required or mandated by Provincial forestry laws?

Maybe the nine enviro signatories to this agreement should return to that thing… that place… that cliche that everyone likes to use…ummm….uhhh…. oh right: the drawing board.

Ecosystem-based management? Read yesterday’s post and other posts on “Bumpf” on this website. The term “ecosystem-based management” now has about as much meaning as the old Ford slogan “Quality is Job 1″…

Good luck on this dirty business, ad bluster, political spin, already in law, stupid — campaign.

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The most ridiculous aspect of this whole exercise — as communicated by one of the executive leaders of one of the “enviro” signatories:

…it is important to put the CBFA in proper context. It is an aspirational agreement, based on voluntary commitments between participants and a number of goals which will require a great deal of goodwill and hard work to achieve. It is not legally binding on anyone, even those participating in the agreement. It doesn’t compel anyone to do anything against their own interests… [my emphasis]

Oh yeah, I know that whenever I, or someone apparently representing me, spends two years negotiating an agreement — it makes sense that the agreement be “aspirational” and “voluntary” and “not legally binding”. What a great use of resources…

Back to the words of Godin:

Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?

Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement: giving appearances of “solidity to pure wind” or fog banks

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug”   – Mark Twain

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. — George Orwell, Politics and English Language, 1946

Over the last few days to a week, I’ve been sifting through a leaked version of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement — the actual signed copy is still not posted on the website. Other reviewers and criticisms of the agreement suggest certain Orwellian characteristics. I quite appreciate this comparison, as Orwell was a fan of simple language and wrote novels like 1984 about the dangers of political-speak (newspeak).

Now I may not go so far as to suggest that this particular agreement is making lies sound truthful (although maybe yesterday’s post suggested so) and murder respectable; however, there is certainly no shortage of that type of language in our political elite, which has certainly become well adopted by the media and in the delivery of TV nightly news (news-speak). For example, when “collateral damage” is used to make murder sound respectable.


(I have alluded to this in several earlier posts on this site: Words Matter; Why Business People Speak Like Idiots; how the term  “conservation” is like scotch broom; bullshit bumpf to blame for salmon disappearing,  and so on…)


The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is full of these empty, meaningless, wind-full words that obscure any meaning like a Pacific coast fog bank obscures landmarks. When the fog of empty-bumpf language rolls in — active adaptive management, precautionary approach, sustainability, ecosystem-based management, ecological integrity — meaning disappears faster than the horizon, or the island of real meaning that was just moments before serving as a beacon for our direction.

If you’ve ever spent time on the coast, you know that Pacific fog banks slide in so thick sometimes that vertigo sets in. One can not tell the sea from the sky, up from down, north from south… in a kayak, or a seaplane, it can be especially dangerous, more so without a compass to trust.

Several years back, I fell into a fisheries contract as the person initially hired was killed in a float plane crash. She had been working in an isolated logging camp on Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Is.). Her and her crew were picked up by float plane on the west coast and were flying back to town. The Pacific fog bank rolled in, and the pilot was left trying to navigate by flying very low and following a logging road on the ground and relying on local knowledge.

The only problem is he followed a different logging road then he thought… the one he followed ends abruptly in a mountain cliff.

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And that’s the point here. When we all get lost in fog-full empty-language which has lost meaning and obscures reality — how do we navigate safely to make sure that we are saying what we mean, and meaning what we say?

What compass (moral, integrity or otherwise) do we use when business, environmental groups, government, or otherwise start using fog-full language that obscures any actual meaning?

And — especially — know what we are signing. And — most especially — know what we are communicating to greater audiences (e.g. marketing tool for big business to appeal to consumers).

if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.  — George Orwell

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Following my first few posts re: the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement — I emailed all of the ‘communications’ people listed on the Agreement website including the Forest Products Association and the nine enviro groups to let them know about this site and my thoughts on the agreement.

I did it partially as a test to see how well everyone was standing by language in the Agreement — specifically that any signatories were supposed to let other signatories know about “third parties” that “may take a position or make public statements that are contrary to the principles and intent of the CBFA”  — pg. 38 under Goal 6: Marketplace Recognition. (which makes me think maybe the signatories don’t understand social media…?)

I think some of my comments might be considered “contrary”…? (and by the way if you’d still like to send a letter to the CEO of Abitibi-Bowater — one of the signatories — protesting their operations in Canada’s Boreal Forest… you still can: from Greenpeace’s (one of the signatories) website.

I only got a response from two individuals — both enviro signatories. To be fair, I won’t state who and what organization; however, this is part of one of the responses:

We at the […] are confident in the science that underpins the agreement and are hopeful that other key stakeholders in this unprecedented process will ensure that at the end of the day the Boreal is indeed protected.


The “science”? hmmm.

The “Goal” of this Agreement, as clearly stated in its own section:

"Goal" of Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement; pg 5 of leaked version


(Is this not one of the worst run-on sentences you have ever read… worse than a “short” salmonguy blog post… I have visions of my grade 8 English teacher butchering that sentence with her red pen bayonet)


Here’s a decent definition of science from Wikipedia to use as a barometer:

Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories. As knowledge has increased, some methods have proved more reliable than others, and today the scientific method is the standard for science. It includes the use of careful observation, experiment, measurement, mathematics, and replication — to be considered a science, a body of knowledge must stand up to repeated testing by independent observers.


So what is the science “underpinning” this Agreement?

  • The science of “boreal forest conservation” and “forest sector competitiveness“…?
  • The science of “conservation and protection of boreal biodiversity“…?
  • The science of “forest products… recognized as a climate-friendly choice in the marketplace“…?
  • Or, the science of a “global source of supply of sustainable forest products“…?

Oh, no wait… it’s the science ‘underpinning’ the Agreement… So that would be the: “Core elements of the agreement” , which include: ecosystem-based management, active adaptive management, protected areas, precautionary approach,  “recovery of species at risk” , greenhouse gas emission (GHGs) reductions, and so on…

Somebody please explain to me the “science” of ecosystem-based management…

Where in the world has the science of “ecosystem-based management” been implemented over a long enough time period; over a large enough geographic area to prove that it assisted in “recovering” species at risk…(for example caribou which have declined by over 60% from historical estimates)?

Where has it significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions…? Where has it been used along with “active adaptive management” and the “precautionary approach” in a mass industrial development setting?

Where have all of these been “scientific principles” been utilized in such a manner as to be recognized as “testable laws and theories” and have resulted in a “body of knowledge” that has stood up “to repeated testing by independent observers.” ?

They haven’t.

— it’s voodoo science at best. It’s mushy, fog-full language, simply reproduced through the mating of corporate enviro groups, corporate industry, and government spin-doctors resulting in offspring that resemble this Agreement and many other document like it (e.g. The Wild Salmon Policy)

Harsh… maybe… however someone explain to me exactly how a “sustainable” forest industry operates…. what is “sustainable”? What does it mean? What does it mean for the communities in those forests? What does it mean for the revered ‘bou (caribou)?

Somebody show me were a “network of protected areas” has made a difference for large migratory animals like caribou (or salmon, or grizzly bears – yeah Jasper and Banff are doing wonders for the grizzly)…

how big does this “network” have to be? How big was it before industrial forestry? (Oh wait, it was all of it…)

Show me exactly how “science” is going to allow severely depressed caribou herds to co-habitate with expanding industrial forestry, tar sands operations, and mineral exploration and mining —  which is only going to expand as world populations grow (ever heard of Potash?).

It’s not possible. This is a big experiment… with a whole lot more flash; then dash. A whole lot more: ‘maybe this, maybe that’. A whole lot of fog bank language rather then saying what we mean, and meaning what we say.

It’s high time that folks stop hiding behind bullshit bumpf words like ecosystem-based management, precautionary approach, sustainability, adaptive management, and whatever other concocted bafflegab gets cooked up over the burners of windowless boardrooms, transcontinental jet flights offset by carbon credits, and float & bloat schmooze fests in the ‘wildernesses’ of North America.

What the hell are we actually trying to do here…?

“If you think learning your vocabulary words doesn’t make a difference, try going into a store and asking for toilet paper when you only know the word for sandpaper”

— Alan Webber: Rules of Thumb: 52 truths for winning at business without losing yourself

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement: obfuscation, fallacy, and more of the prefabricated henhouse

If you had a chance to read yesterday’s post, you may remember the quote I used from George Orwell’s 1946 Essay — Politics and the English language:

prefab – elevated henhouse

[The] mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.

Now to be somewhat fair, I have been plowing through a leaked copy of the 70+ page agreement between logging companies and enviros – The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Obviously, at great expense, signatories to the agreement had legal teams sift through these pages and added verbosity, adjectives, blather, bumpf, etc.

So I decided to take a look at the webpage for this agreement. One component that struck me first was noticing all of the corporate logos attached to bottom of the webpage; all neatly linked to the companies web pages – except for the odd dead link.

I began to think…. “Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited“? That doesn’t sound like a company that operates in Canada’s Boreal Forest.

That sounds like a company that operates… well… in Howe Sound, which is by Vancouver and Squamish, British Columbia.

A visit to their website… a look at the “where we are” and sure enough:

There they are operating in Howe Sound. So I wonder how much tenure do they have in Canada’s Boreal Forest?

I flip to the back of the 70+ page agreement to “Schedule I” and well… they don’t have any tenures in the Boreal Forest; or at least not in the “caribou deferrals” section.

Oh yea… and they’re owned 50% by Canfor and 50% by Oji Paper of Japan.

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Very curious… so how about “Mercer International” ? I’d not heard of them before.

A visit to their website, and: “We conduct our pulp operations through three subsidiaries consisting of large-scale, modern pulp mills: one in British Columbia’s interior, and two in eastern Germany.”

Their only BC operation is in southeastern BC in Castlegar… that’s a little ways from the Canadian Boreal Forest; as is eastern Germany.

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How about “Mill and Timber Products Ltd.”?

A visit to their website quickly demonstrates this is a small company not too concerned about their webpage. They

“specialize in Western Red Cedar Products”

Ummm… yeah… for those of you who may not be too familiar with trees. Western Red Cedar most definitely does not grow in Canada’s Boreal Forest.

Great little company… but definitely not operating in Canada’s Boreal Forest… so why are they signatories to the “historic” Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement?

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How about F.F. Soucy Inc.?

Well this is a curious one. Visit the “website” and one finds that this was: ” the first newsprint mill in North America to obtain the ISO standard recognition.” And here’s the curious bit:

Formed in 1963, F.F. Soucy, Inc. and its majority owned subsidiary F.F. Soucy Inc. & Partners, Limited Partnership (formed in 1974 with Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and Rexfor)

Yeah, that’s the Dow Jones & Company that also owns the Wall Street Journal and other significant publications. Rexfor is now the Societe general de financement du Quebec and financial holding corporation of the Quebec government.

However, as I looked at another company signatory to the agreement: White Birch Paper or Papier Masson Ltee as listed on the leaked Agreement — I found that they are headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut (good Canadian company) and they in fact own the FF Soucy operation.

So why is FF Soucy listed separately from Whitebirch — as a signatory? They appear to be the same company. On the Whitebirch/Papier Masson website it also states: “the first newsprint mill in North America to obtain the ISO standard recognition.”

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How about New Page? I’ve never heard of the organization.

Well, a visit to their website — and apparently one of North America’s “leading” producers of coated papers. They are headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio… yeah, Ohio.

That’s a long ways from the Canadian Boreal Forest. But… they’re deeply committed to “community”…

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Fibrek? This logo is on the CBFA webpage, but not listed in the Agreement.

Well, they don’t even have a website. It’s under construction.

However, Fibrek is formerly known as SFK Pulp Fund or SFK Pate as listed in the Agreement, which recently decided to move from an income trust to a corporation (thanks Jim Flaherty, federal Conservatives and your broken election promise on that one…).

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AV Group — the nice logo with three maple leafs on it (on the CBFA website) — well that’s AV Nackawic “fibres from nature” . This is part of the Aditya Burla Group which is based out of India. $29.2 Billion; 130,000 employees, operating in over 25 countries worldwide.

Yeah, that’s another one of those struggling Canadian logging companies in the struggling Canadian forest sector.

Article "L" of the "Whereas" section of Agreement

(I’m not so sure the Aditya Burla Group is facing too many “unprecedented financial challenges”, or is limited in its ability to “accommodate further constraints” …)

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I was familiar with this company as my wife and I got married last summer in Peace River, AB and I heard that they operated the pulp mill there.

This is a Japanese company, and they only have about 2.7 million hectares of forest tenure area — small potatoes in the scheme of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.

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And thus, as I asked yesterday, what the [enter active expletive here]?

Why are there companies listed on this agreement that do not appear to have any operations in Canada’s Boreal Forest?

Sure, maybe they get a little bit of wood from there through second, third, fourth-hand distributors — but come on folks… this is not an agreement between 21 forest companies actively logging in the Canadian Boreal Forest.

In fact, if you read through the leaked copy of the Agreement — when it comes to “caribou habitat protection” this is an agreement with 8 logging companies: Canfor (Canfor and Canfor Pulp Fund are basically the same company), Lousiana Pacific although they’ve deferred a whole 539.43 hectares for “caribou action planning” from their small operations, Alberta-Pacific, Tolko, West Fraser (although they didn’t defer any areas for “caribou action planning”), Weyerhaeuser (headquarters in Seattle, WA), Tembec, and Abitibi-Bowater (currently under bankruptcy protection).

And this is actually stated in the agreement:

Pg 12 of leaked agreement


I won’t reproduce Schedule “D” here… however, I only count nine companies.

So I ask WHY?

Why is this agreement celebrated as an “historic” agreement with 21 logging companies?

Orwell in 1946:

All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.

Thank-you, sir.

Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement: Orwell’s sections of a “prefabricated henhouse”

blissful in the henhouse?


George Orwell,  or more accurately Eric Arthur Blair, through his many writings wrote about the importance of honest and clear language and said that vague writing can be used as a powerful tool of political manipulation.

I couldn’t agree more… evident every day in the empty bumpf language of today’s scientists, policy analysts, politicians, and various advocates for whatever cause. And thus why I have a specific category on this weblog dedicated to Bumpf including the ever-popular Bumpf-word Bingo card.

In 1946 George Orwell wrote: Politics and the English Language, in the essay he suggests:

This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which is being touted as the “world’s biggest conservation agreement”


I can’t bloody-well keep up with all of the European countries that the ‘size’ of this agreement is being compared to.

In one article it’s Italy, in another France, in some criticisms the U.K. has come up.If one has not traveled in Europe, these analogies mean nothing. (For one who has ridden a bike from southern California to Seattle – and points north – comparisons to those areas make more sense…)

Confusing, really.

Ok, maybe not… through these comparisons it’s clear who this “historic agreement signifying a new era of joint leadership in the Boreal Forest” is being marketed to.

Orwell Politics and the English Language:

Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid [morally degrading] process of international politics

hmmm…  “international politics”… comparisons to European countries… trying to secure a package of “competitiveness measures and marketplace solutions” for logging companies (in the Agreement “whereas” section — article “M”)

_ _ _ _ _ _

Ok, so let’s put some of the pieces of the henhouse together:

First panel of the “prefabricated henhouse.”

Agreement: Whereas article "L"

Hmmm… Welcome to the world of business — I seem to remember learning in microeconomics about: supply and demand — externalities (e.g. pollution, environmental degradation, etc.) — and changing consumer preferences…

(So I guess we can conclude that the first few boards for the prefab henhouse aren’t coming from “Canada’s forest sector”…)

Moving along…

Second panel of the “prefabricated henhouse”.

Active Adaptive Management” the first phrase defined in the Agreement.

what the [enter active expletive here] is this?  I’ll take a couple of stabs:

In this case — active adaptive management — I’m not sure any of the signatories could suggest which is the adjective, which is the verb and which is the noun. Is this meant to highlight that the signatories will be “active” or that they will be “adaptive” or that they will conduct “management”.

Is not management, as a noun, have a sense of activity already? And a sense of adaptation to changing circumstances every second of every minute of every hour? Is not “adaptive” already suggesting “active”?

Would we say to our kids: “hey kids lets go outside and do some active activity?… Oh, hey kids, make sure that it is adaptive active activity?”

Yeah, because when kids play catch if they are not “actively adaptive” in moving that glove to where the ball is coming — they take one off the noggin…  You know, the kid practices adaptive active management by moving glove—to—ball.

Or, when they’re out riding there bikes on the road. “Oh kids make sure you actively adapt your management activities at each stop sign and road crossing; for example when you approach one of these areas be sure you actively look both ways and then adapt your management activities accordingly…”

No! (for crying out loud) (VERY LOUD!)

That is not how we speak to kids or even to each other. We speak in plain language.

But wait, to better understand what is being said here lets look at the “Definitions” section of the Agreement to get a better understanding of active adaptive management:


page 3 "Definitions"


Does not “definition” mean: “The act of making clear and distinct; The act or process of stating a precise meaning or significance; formulation of a meaning”?

Well… yeah… it does. (I looked it up… just to be sure).

So what the [enter actively loud expletive here] does that definition say?


…The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render.

Let me see if I caught some ‘keywords’ in the definition:

  • “uncertainty of outcomes”
  • “learn by doing”
  • “careful observation”

Part (d) of that definition…? sorry folks I’m not even going to go there. That is one of the finer collections of horseshit, bullshit, and cowshit phrases I have seen in some time.

I’ve got a simpler definition of “adapt” for the signatories: “To make suitable to or fit for a specific use or situation”

uh, huh. let’s think about that definition for awhile….

Orwell, to conclude this post:

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.

It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

I’m just curious when the chicken shit hits the fan, and things get a little more heated near the end of the timeline (2012) on this agreement — how much are the foolish thoughts and slovenliness of language going to create a whole lot of trouble in the henhouse…?