Tag Archives: Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Salmon for the forests; forests for the salmon… shocking…

Globe and Mail image

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Health of salmon run affects ecosystem of forest

I’m appreciative of the most recent Mark Hume article in the Globe and Mail.

However at the same time, it’s rather exhausting that these sorts of things come to light so slowly.

I tell the story often…

…when I was growing up on Haida Gwaii, I spent an immense amount of time fishing; largely for Pacific salmon. Coho, humpies, the odd Chum (Dog), and from time to time Chinook. Whenever we brought fish home, we had generally hiked them up the river on an alder branch broken off a tree nearby the closest “meathole”. Generally, we would clean the fish once we got home. Our mom told us for years to bury any heads and guts in the garden, but deep enough that some dog or cat wouldn’t dig them up.

Fertilizers of all sorts are generally made out of fishmeal — and in years gone by were a central component. Industrial fisheries in some far-away ocean grinding up some little fish on the ocean food chain to turn it into cheap fertilizer.

So if fishmeal, fish guts, and fish heads are good fertilizer in a garden — why they hell wouldn’t they be the same in the forest?

Indigenous cultures have been saying this for eons — “everything is connected.”

Ever look at a west coast totem pole… everything is connected.

Ever look at west coast, or even interior art… (you guessed it… everything is connected).

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So says the article:

When bears, wolves and other animals drag salmon carcasses from spawning streams they cause an intricate chain reaction that changes the nature of the surrounding forest, according to new research from Simon Fraser University.

Plant species that efficiently take up nitrogen from the decomposing bodies of salmon flourish – and soon there are more song birds, drawn by the dense growths of wild berry bushes and prolific insect hatches.

“The shift in dominance of some of these plant species was a lot more dramatic than I frankly had expected. Species like salmon berry it turns out are really well named. They tend to dominate in streams that have a large number of salmon,” said Prof. Reynolds, who oversaw the research project which was led by Morgan Hocking, a postdoctoral fellow.

In addition to looking at plant species, Prof. Reynolds said it is important to consider the physical characteristics of a stream as well, because animals avoid fishing in places where getting out of the water with a salmon is difficult because of steep banks.

“If it is a small stream and has shallow banks, then there is a lot better chance that the plants will be effected by the carcasses, because these are more accessible to bears,” he said.

I’m certainly appreciative of the research by Reynolds and Hocking. I’ve read quite a bit of their research before and it’s great to see some of it going a bit mainstream.

This is an image from Dr. Tom Reimchen’s lab at Uvic. It’s kind of ‘techie’ and scientific; however shows the same connections — or more like has been showing these connections through ‘scientific’ channels for quite some time.

Salmon enter the near-stream environment from bottom stage left, and become food, nutrients, energy for a pile of critters. (make sure you glance at the date: 1994)

"nutrient vectors"?

And well… what to our wonder…

Apparently salmon depend on the forests of the stream ecosystems they swim up to spawn and then often (for some species) spend several years in as baby salmon.

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An article just the other day from the Atlantic Salmon Federation:

Boreal Forest Water Vital to Atlantic Salmon

OTTAWA – A first of its kind report by the Pew Environment Group reveals that Canada’s boreal, the world’s largest intact forest and on-land carbon storehouse, contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem. As United Nations’ International Year of Forests and World Water Day coincide, world leaders are grappling with water scarcity and pollution – and scientists are calling boreal protection a top global priority.

… [because Canada's Boreal Forest]:

  • contains 25 percent of the planet’s wetlands, millions of pristine lakes, and thousands of free-flowing rivers, totaling more than 197 million acres of surface freshwater;
  • provides an estimated $700 billion value annually as a buffer against climate change and food and water shortages;
  • offers the last refuges for many of the world’s sea-run migratory fish, including half of the remaining populations of North American Atlantic salmon.

“A first of its kind report…”??

Maybe for the Pew folks… but certainly not a unique idea. (as i’ve mentioned before… marketing is everything; everything is marketing).

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And so really… what all of this is saying is… if we’re going to do true “Ecosystem-Based Management” we better really think about the entire spectrum of ecosystems, and the endless interlinked relationships… and we should probably be cautious and use precaution because we might mess up a delicate balance…

But have no fear I tell you… because over ten years ago (1999) the Department of Fisheries and Oceans devised this incredible draft concept: Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy. One of the central components of that Policy was to be “Ecosystem-based management”…

How are we doing?

Utter failure.

Have you seen the allocations of salmon for species other than humans?

Like maybe Species at Risk Act (SARA) listed Resident Orcas in the Salish Sea that depend heavily on Fraser Chinook as a food source, or dwindling Grizzly Bears, or starving eagles?

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And south of us… have no fear, I found on the Pacific Fishery Management Council website that there is a sub-committee of a Committee holding a sub-Panel of a Panel to devise a Plan…

Sounds promising, let me tell you.

Ecosystem-Based Management Subcommittee of the Scientific and Statistical Committee and the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel to Hold Work Sessions to Develop recommendations on an Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene meetings of the Ecosystem-Based Management Subcommittee (Subcommittee) of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel (EAS) that are open to the public.  Please note, this is not a public hearing; it is a work session for the primary purpose of considering recommendations to the Council on the development of an Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan (EFMP).

I don’t mean to be the can of fish asshole today… but come on!

are you kidding?

I’m really not sure what an “ecosystem fishery” management plan is… isn’t that what we all do… go fishing in an “ecosystem”?

The Subcommittee session will focus on incorporating ecosystem science into the Council management process.  The joint session of the Subcommittee and the EAS will focus on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment [take deep breath]. The EAS will also discuss available science and its potential application with the SSC and will develop recommendations on the EFMP’s purpose and need, regulatory authority, and management unit species for the June 2011 Council meeting in Spokane, Washington

(I’m not making this stuff up… true quotes)

I just don’t understand why they don’t form an advisory subsubcommittee (S2C) that will integrate a framework that will inform the sub-Panel of the Board of the Directors recommendations to the post-science, pre-conference, strategic planning sub-Group — which will in turn provide a background matrix and risk-management scaffolding to guide regulatory management and authority of that sub-species, pre-migratory, complex habitat, ecosystem-based, policy informing database and ecological modeling platform.

Maybe that’s why Dr. Reimchen’s work has never been officially incorporated into Department of Fisheries and Oceans “ecosystem-based management” policies. He must not have been on the sub-committee of the sub-Panel reporting to the EBM Board at the DFO…

But hey… thank ghad… there is contact info for the upcoming gathering down south:

For further information regarding the ecosystem-based management advisory subpanel and subcommittee work sessions, please contact…

… Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to … at least five days prior to the meeting date.

I, by no means fault the effort to provide access to individuals with disabilities — that’s important everyhwere… I’m just wondering if they’ll have “translation” services available. I think that could be a mandatory “auxiliary aid” for any of these salmon processes.

I was a at a conference in Portland, Oregon last year and there were translation services for Japanese and Russian participants — several times I was looking for the translation services for gobbledeegook, bumpf, bureaucratese, ‘science-chatter’. I’m sure some folks have been looking for these services at the Cohen Commission looking at declines [aka crash] of Fraser salmon in 2009…

It’s a disease… or a bumpf-ease… could one be so bold as to say “plain language might save the wild salmon”?

And maybe a return to a thousands and thousands of years old understanding… salmon are essential to forests; forests are essential to salmon.

“Everything is connected; connected is everything…”

Euphemisms for sex…

This is a fitting addition to the Bumpf Word Bingo card:

from Jessica Hagy's blog: "Indexed"

I took some liberties and added in a circle and a few other bumpf-word, bureaucratic bafflegab, don’t-know-what-I’m-trying-to-say catchphrases — straight out of Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy or the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, or any other “agreement”, “accord”, governmental policy, or other empty marketing pitches.

or... cooperative copulation

And in the spirit of Ms. Hagy’s blog here’s another:

Mean what you say... less is more

(Maybe I should remember that: “less is more”… some of these blog posts carry on for quite some time)

This next piece also seems to fit in well here from Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void morning emails.

Mediocrity loves slavery - "Gaping Void"

Some of the text from Macleod that goes with this:

…my peers and I have a different kind of slavery to contend with, the slavery we impose upon ourselves.

Enslaving ourselves to the jobs, careers and lifestyles we hate, just in order to pay the bills. Just in order to buy fancy stuff that makes us look good on paper.

It never occurred to me when I was younger, that this kind of slavery has an element of complicity to it.

We got ourselves in this situation, partly because we willed it. We WANTED that outcome. We wanted the fancy stuff. We didn’t want to do the hard work work that would keep us away from it. We just wanted an easy life….

Mediocrity seduced us. Mediocrity won.

It’s never too late to break out of this cycle, luckily.

It all depends what you’re willing to give up. Only you can answer that.

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And, yes, there is this element of slavery in the decisions we make with our lives — there is also a level of “complicity” and “slavery” when using empty, meaningless, bumpf-filled language. Verbal junk-food as some folks refer to it.

Sure it sounds all gooey and sweet when you’re surrounded by your peers in a boardroom or committee meeting; you fill yourself up on “best practices potato chips” and “ecological benchmark cake” all covered in “sustainability icing” and “conservation cookies” with “socially significant chips”…

You know the routine.

We don’t have to do it. We don’t have to become a slave to meaningless language – because as Macleod’s cartoon suggests, it breeds mediocrity. And it breeds obesity… obesity in language, which clogs arteries; the same arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. If we aren’t getting oxygen to the brain, we aren’t thinking clearly.

Let’s think a little more clearly. Let’s eat a few more fresh vegetables and stop filling ourselves on verbal junk food.

To finish this today on a pretty funny note, to a devastating event; if you’ve followed some of the ‘tactics’ that BP has utilized to try and clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (for example, human hair over the well along with garbage such as tires, balls, etc., celebrity input, blown estimates on how much oil is leaking, and so on) you’ll most likely get a good laugh out of this, it’s pretty clever:

how much basing on ‘based’ is the best basis for ecosystem-based…

This is not a nursery rhyme I intend to teach my kids. I think I’ll stick with: how much wood can a woodchuck chuck?

Hey, wait… that’s not a bad question — how MUCH wood can a woodchuck chuck?

Well… if that woodchuck is made by Finning, or Caterpillar, or Madill (wait… they went bankrupt) — then it can chuck a lot of wood. So if a woodchuck is chucking wood in Canada’s Boreal Forest — how much wood can it chuck before it chucks a caribou or two?

Hmmm.

I suppose the nine enviro groups and multiple logging companies that signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement are suggesting that we should trust that they know how to accurately measure (or will learn quickly) how much wood a ‘sustainable’ woodchuck can chuck before it chucks a caribou… or a woodchuck for that fact (oh… the irony). But wait… in the logging industry it’s called hoe-chucking (when a track hoe moves fallen wood from the previous forest, to landings at roads).

So how much wood can a woodchuck hoe-chuck…? (ok… enough)

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See this is where ecosystem-based planning comes in… But then whenever I see anything followed by (or even preceded by) “based”… I always tend to ask: how “based”?

Like a Hollywood movie “based” on a true story… it’s true story-based, but how much truth-based? and how much entertainment-based? And how much just plain made-up-based?

Or protein-based smoothie… how much protein-based? All? 86.78%? 50%? 10%?

Or how about one of my new favorites: vegetable-based plastics? Apparently Sony has been doing work in this area. Sounds good, hey? But how “-based”?

Then there’s biodiesel; vegetable-based fuel.

Or soy-based inks? — supposed to be way better than petroleum-based inks…

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From the “Abridged” Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement:

basing the basis for based

I’m not to sure the theory behind having to state “on-the-ground” within the agreement — last time I checked that’s where forestry happens… And even sustainable forest management; but then maybe that’s the point — the folks that concocted this thing realized that some critical individuals (not mentioning any names…) might suggest: “sustainable forest management practices” are a nice idea on paper, but rarely practiced “on-the-ground”…

But here we have it: confirmation that these “sustainable” practices will be “on-the-ground”. Or better yet: “on-the-ground”-based.

Because, as this goal states the sustainable forest management practices (the on-the-ground ones) will be “based” on the principles of ecosystem-based management, etc.

So how much will they be “based” on them? As much as the movie Apollo 13 was “based” on actual events — or more like the yam-based excrement of my infant son who has taken to solid foods like a seal to salmon.

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Maybe I’m being overly picky with wording; however, as I can’t say enough… when folks start marketing something as “world-leading”, or the “world’s biggest conservation agreement” (but oh yeah, it didn’t include any governments…), or “historic”… then it better have some substance, some serious grit. It better say what it means, and means what it says.

To try and understand what this first “Goal” is suggesting is near impossible. To understand what “ecosystem-based” actually is, or “active adaptive management” — one needs to turn to the definitions section of the agreement.

Trust me… clarity is not to be found there.

from Final version - now posted on website

“Management systems that attempt…”

1. What the heck is a management system in relation to ecosystems…?

2. Ecosystem-based is defined by “attempting…!?

3. And worse yet, attempting to  “emulate”!?

Folks, please, please check your definition of words before using. Emulate means… basically to imitate: “To strive to equal or excel, especially through imitation” . So, sticking with the theme here… it’s “imitation-based” .

So what we have here is a “management system” that is “attempting” to imitate “ecological patterns and processes”… with the goal of maintaining and/or restoring natural levels of ecosystem composition, bla, bla, bla?

How does one “attempt” to imitate “restoration” of an ecosystem by logging it, or pieces of it?

Like… really… how does one best “maintain natural levels of ecosystem composition, structure, and function”?

Well…leave it the hell alone is not a bad starting point.

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Wait though… the number one goal of this agreement is to have this great “sustainable” forest management (by 21 companies — many of them massive multi-national conglomerates with one sole purpose secure as much “wood fibre” as possible — like I alluded to at the beginning how much wood can a “sustainable” woodchuck chuck…?) BASED on principles of Ecosystem-BASED management.

You know….. that management system that attempts to imitate nature…

So how “based” is this sustainable forest management going to be “based” on principles of ecosystem-based management??

“Principles” is another curious choice; it means: “A basic truth, law, or assumption.” Well… ecosystem-based management is neither a “truth” or a “law” and thus it must be an “assumption”.

And so folks you have designed and signed a “voluntary”, “aspirational” agreement that has, as its #1 Goal an airy-fairy statement about some loosely defined ideal — sustainable forest management –  (oh but wait, it’s not actual management… it’s “practices”: something done to polish skills…).

This “practicing” for sustainable forest management (which is not defined in the agreement) will be “based” (we don’t how much) on “principles” (i.e. assumptions) of ecosystem-based management — which is a system of imitating nature.

And this will all be confirmed through a system of “Audits”.

Audit: “An examination of records or financial accounts to check their accuracy.”

Auditing nature.

Wow.

Environmental groups & the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Some sanity-finding, sketchbook release, for “turd polishing” agreements like the “voluntary“, “aspirationalCanadian Boreal Forest Agreement signed a little over a week ago by nine environmental groups and a collection of Logging companies (21 apparently, but only a handful that actually operate in Canada’s Boreal Forest) and being marketed heavily in industrialized states as a “historic” agreement – the largest conservation agreement ever signed.

You know… like a Guinness World Record (side note — did you know that the Jim Pattison Group own the Guinness World Records name? they do…)

You know… when I “aspire” to something I draft up 60+ pages of legalese, bumpf, and empty language. And, most certainly, when I enter “voluntary” programs, like community sport team coaching… or community boards, or… I also look to sign a 60+ page agreement full of legalese, etc.

This entire marketing effort is full of so many contradictions, stretching of truths, un-Orwellian language (remember he was an advocate of keeping language simple and would cringe at the ‘un’…), and I think some folks have lost track of what “aspire” means… generally to “desire or to hope” for something.

So this is an agreement that:

  • aspires to be historic,
  • aspires to be world-leading,
  • aspires to be the world’s biggest conservation agreement…

It’s a long, long, long ways from getting to those aspired to goals. Sort of like a 6-year old Canadian kid that aspires to be the world’s best hockey player, or the 6-year old Brazilian kid that aspires to be the word’s best soccer player… they have a long road ahead of them before they can tag themselves with things like “historic” and “world leading”.

And we won’t even discuss the odds that they face…

Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Logging companies "Active Adaptive Management"

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.

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(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…)

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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.

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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

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(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)

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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.

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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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Daishowa-Marububeni?

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

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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.

“Joint” agreements: The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.. just plain bizarre

Greenpeace Boreal image

I’ve been reading through the leaked version of the recently announced Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – the touted historic agreement signifying a new era of Joint Leadership in the Boreal Forest.

This Agreement apparently covering Canada’s Boreal Forest (which stretches from the Yukon and B.C. all the way across the country to Newfoundland) was signed last week by twenty-one forest companies that operate in Canada’s Boreal forest  and nine “leading” environmental companies.

Reading through the leaked agreement (a final copy of which still isn’t posted on the website) I am left wondering what sort of “Joint” is being referred to (or reefered to).

As another writer has suggested, Dawn Paley, in an online article on The Dominion: The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Reconsidered Paley suggests: “the numbers game is far from the only Orwellian aspect of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” referring to some of the ‘communication’ activities and organized campaigns of the nine “leading” environmental groups involved — and how this Agreement controls and dictates how those activites can now be conducted by those organizations.

In the agreement these types of ‘activities’ are “legally” defined in the “Definitions” section of the agreement (I say legally because only lawyers could develop these sorts of legalese definitions and my experience negotiating agreements that points to the lawyerly joy of ensuring these sorts of things are “legal”), :

page 4 of CBFA

Some important words to highlight here: “any”; as in the fifth word of this definition.

Therefore “any advocacy or communication activities” by the nine ‘leading’ environmental groups — signatories to this agreement — with any relation to:

  • paper recycling campaigns — i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle;
  • the importance of forests (e.g. home to critters like salmon, caribou, grizzly bears, bees, owls, and so on — oh yeah, and humans…;  carbon sequestration; oxygen producers; and all those other silly things that forests do…); and
  • maybe truly “conserving” and “protecting” forests in the real meaning of those words (i.e. like leaving alone, or maybe just for walking through, or hunting in, or simply being in — as opposed to the completely co-opted use of these words.

Now that we have a legal “definition” to work with… I used the ‘search’ function to look through the 70+ page agreement to see where “ENGO Advocacy Work” is used and why it had to be defined.

It first comes up on page 37 of the Agreement, under the section “Goal 6: Marketplace Recognition“.

CBFA is the Agreement -- FPAC is Forest Products Association of Canada, the logging companies

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Section 6 follows Section 5, which is “Forest Sector Prosperity“….  And here’s where things begin to get odd (ENGOs are the nine enviro groups):

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page 38 CBFA

So, if you remember back to the definition of ENGO advocacy work, enviros are going to have to have their lawyers review any advocacy or public communications and ensure it fits with this Agreement and anything to do with the Canadian Boreal Forest. (Last time I checked, climate change was having a significant effect on the Canadian Boreal Forest)

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Greenpeace banner at Abitibi, Montreal headquarters 2007

Apparently they’re not doing very well as I checked Greenpeace’s website today and if I wanted I can still send a letter to “Abitibi-Consolidated” headquarters called “stop looting the Boreal Forest“.

(click the image to see related page on Greenpeace website – but do it soon because apparently it’s supposed be gone according to the “Agreement“).

Side note: Abitibi-Bowater, the world’s eighth largest pulp and paper producer is still under bankruptcy protection…)

Side note II: if you watch the YouTube video on Greenpeace’s website you can see images of their campaign against companies operating in the Boreal Forest…

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Besides the clever banners and vandalizing ocean freighters, there are images of logging trucks, clearcuts, the rumble of forestry equipment and so on. My question is: how does this agreement change any of that?…

There’s still going to be frigging logging trucks, road building, and logging equipment rumbling through the Boreal forest by at least 21 companies (i.e. FPAC members) and whatever other logging companies operating in the Boreal Forest that didn’t sign this agreement…

Greenpeace defends their position in a Q & A paper on their site.

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OK – now here’s the Orwellian section… and apologies I recognize the legalese is onerous to read through — but this part blows my mind!

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(First, one of the legal definitions of “third party” is: any individual who does not have a direct connection with a legal transaction but who might be affected by it.)

12 (a) — am I now going be getting emails, phone call, or visits to my door suggesting that I, or any other “third party” making statements contrary to the principles and intents of the “Agreement” (it’s a sad piece of crap), should be worked with “proactively” to minimize my actions against the “principles and intent” of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement?

Or are the signatories going to move straight to 12 (c) (v) and suggest I “modify” my position, and/or public statements (i.e. weblog entries)?

Under 12 (b) — if any of the FPAC, FPAC members, and ENGOs figure I, or other third parties, may continue to hack away at this shoddy agreement, they have to immediately notify the other signatories.

This is just down right school yard tattle-taling…

OK, so how about this?

As I searched around online over the past couple of days, I came across a Facebook page called “Save the ‘Bou” (as in caribou). Save the ‘Bou is apparently:

“a campaign to protect Canada’s last remaining Woodland Caribou by environmental groups, Canopy, David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics, and Greenpeace Canada.”

If you visit this facebook page – and say scroll down near the bottom there’s a particular entry:

Kim Fry Greenpeace released a report last week which details how the Ontario government has allowed AbitibiBowater to destroy intact forests and Caribou Habitat in the English River Forest.

Well, Kim Fry, I hope you’re ready to be worked with “proactively” by the FPAC, FPAC members, and ENGOs to modify your position. You are “affiliated” with the four environmental groups that created this Facebook page, by just being on the page. Hope you’re not a “fan” or a “friend”….

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So, are the four enviro groups going to erase this Facebook page that they created because the ‘Bou are now “saved”, “protected”, “conserved” and/or “well-managed by “ecosystem-based planning”… Or, erase all entries from the last while, or entries to come (under article 11 of the Agreement) “where applicable all of their publicly available materials (both current and future) are consistent with the principles and intent of the CBFA”?

Peek-a-’bou…

What about donors or members of any of the enviro organizations involved — if they blog, or comment negatively about the “Agreement”, will action be sought? What level of action are environmental groups willing to take? or the forestry companies?

Will we start getting “joint” Greenpeace-AbitibiBowater banners put on our houses: “STOP MAKING STATEMENTS THAT ARE CONTRARY TO THE PRINCIPLES AND INTENT OF THE CANADIAN BOREAL FOREST AGREEMENT!”?

Donors, members, Facebook fans, attendees of conferences or events, and so on — would fit the definition of affiliated third parties “through membership or otherwise” (Article 12 of Goal 6 above). About 10 or 12 years ago I gave the Suzuki Foundation (in its early days before it had over 60 corporate employees) some membership fees, donations, and bought some reports — I guess I better watch what I say on this weblog….

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All of this, and I haven’t even got into the lost meaningless language, half-truths, bullshit bumpf, and other sad pieces of this agreement… and why do I care?

to be continued…

Pew Charitable Trust: Environmentalism and contradictions

ahhh…PEW (gesundheit)

Contradictions… a great force in the social world. In some languages the word “contradiction” does not have such negative connotations as it does in English. Some consider contradiction to be a change agent… a balancing force between opposing ideas.

Maybe a sneeze could serve as an example… I know that when I sneeze it generally feels great; a tickle in the nose is satisfied, phlegm is cleared, a burst of energy is released. However, in this day of H1NoFun and other panic hysteria and “germs gone wild” epidemics where few people just trust their immune system (one of our oldest most ancient body systems) — my sneeze may represent a threat to someone’s personal existence and comfort. And ghad forbid I sneeze into my hand and then touch a book or say hi and shake their hand. (I also recognize that sneezes mean different things in different cultures)

As a result of germaphobia — little antibacterial/germ killing stations (motion activated dispensers) are located at various points around the library and other public facilities. (I’ll quietly mention the fact that more and more research is suggesting that this sort of assualt on germs may be doing us all much more harm than good…)

And thus, a simple sneeze becomes a loud, saliva-spraying, snot clearing contradiction….

… parallel to the Pew Charitable Trust.

First, the Pew Charitable Trust was formed through “the sole beneficiary of seven individual charitable funds established between 1948 and 1979 by two sons and two daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew.”

I’ve alluded to this reality in a post from the other day — regarding environmental organizations — many are funded by U.S.-based philanthropic organizations that were formed as a result of an individual or individuals or family making their fortune in some business that exploited natural resources.

This is a curious contradiction.

The Pew Charitable Trust funds some fascinating and potentially meaningful work: civic engagement, media research, environmental issues, health, justice, minority empowerment, and so on, and so on. They suggest that they are “driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems.”

Good on ya, Pew.

However, does this negate the fact that the funds were generated from exploiting oil?

I don’t have the answer.

If BP (British Petroleum, the folks responsible for the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill; now suggested to be the worst oil spill in history) forms a large philanthropic organization, or long-time executives of BP form a foundation from over-inflated salaries, bonuses, and stock options — and these funds go to environmental work — does that negate the irreversible damage they’ve done to the Gulf and through their other operations?

Tough one to ponder…

Second, the Pew Charitable Trust is the organization that apparently funded much of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – “the historic agreement signifying a new era of Joint leadership in the Boreal Forest” — signed between several environmental groups and logging companies operating in the Canadian Boreal Forest.

(If you’re interested you can watch some very stilted, scripted, stiff ‘discussion’ between logging company, or at least Association executives and environmental organization executives at the “media” section of the website facilitated by Pew.)

The Trust suggests that their International campaign regarding Wilderness Protection and Public Lands is focussed on:

The world’s wildest places, the last refuges for nature, are under constant pressure from population growth and associated resource development, including logging, mining and oil and gas drilling. Protecting these global treasures is a difficult challenge, but it is one we must meet. The fate of so many of the world’s endangered species is at risk.

Now, Pew also has an environmental campaign focussed on “Protecting Ocean Life” :

Our marine work is aimed at preserving the biological integrity of marine ecosystems and primarily focuses on efforts to curb overfishing, reduce bycatch and prevent the destruction of marine habitat.

As part of their “marine work”, Pew recently published a news release criticizing the Marine Stewardship Council in its decision to certify the Antarctic Krill fishery. (If you haven’t read my criticisms of the Marine Stewardship Council simply plug their name into the search function of this website). I applaud the criticism; however, here’s the curious contradiction:

The Pew Environment Group today criticized the decision by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to certify Antarctic krill. The certification gives the false impression that the entire fishery for Antarctic krill is sustainable when in reality it is not…

…“Unfortunately, perception is reality,” said Gerald Leape, director of Pew’s Antarctic Krill Conservation Project (AKCP). “The MSC’s label falsely advertises the message that all krill are sustainably caught and that consuming krill-based omega 3 supplements or purchasing farmed salmon raised on krill meal is okay. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Yes, Pew folks (and Greenpeace, and Suzuki, and Forest Ethics, and Nature Conservancy, and so on), isn’t “perception reality”…?

Is not facilitating, co-signing and mass marketing an agreement such as the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement as a “historic agreement” of “conservation”; “protection”; and “sustainability” simply nothing more than giving a false perception of reality?

Especially when we’re only talking about a small portion of the entire Canadian Boreal forest in this “Agreement” .

And truly, please, if this agreement is about:

the true purpose.

Then why didn’t the companies flip the bill themselves if they’re so concerned about securing market share – based on their apparent intention to:

what is this... really?

Businesses green-washing themselves is the flavor of the month these days — I’m not too sure why environmental groups and an organization like the Pew Charitable Trust decided to assist in the greenwashing.

P.S. for those wondering: there are wild salmon inhabiting some large sections of the Canadian Boreal Forest, and certainly into Alaska.