Tag Archives: precautionary approach

policy unframed…

clever little comic in Prince George Free Press this week. Apparently, I’m not the only one with Enbridge marketing burnout… it’s everywhere, online, on CBC Radio One and Two… and it’s exhausting… and… well… laced with some pretty heavy BS-bitumen.

Prince George Free Press illustration - March 21, 2014

Prince George Free Press illustration – March 21, 2014

This 2nd is a small 6×6 piece that I did yesterday as a challenge from my significant other for an upcoming local art show that will be all 6×6 pieces…

policy unframework 1

policy unframework 1 (crayon and acrylic pain on canvas)

 

Enbridge, Canada, and “good-faith” negotiations… stop me if you’ve heard this story before…

Well, Joe O. we might have a problem in BC… says Steve-o…

In early December, Doug Eyford, the federally appointed “Special Federal Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure” released his report: Forging Partnerships, Building Relationships: Aboriginal Canadians and Energy Development.

In the 7-8 months that it took for Eyford to pull the report together, he suggests he: “travelled across Alberta and British Columbia to meet representatives of Aboriginal communities and organizations, industry, and provincial and local governments.” And the he “met with over 80 groups.”

Three main themes are highlighted in his report: Building Trust, Fostering Inclusion, and Advancing Reconciliation. His final theme is “Taking Action”.

Oddly enough, this quote stands out near the beginning…

Eyford Report – Forging Partnerships, Building Relationships: Aboriginal Canadians & Energy Development

Several years ago, a good fifteen or more, Chief Justice Lamer said the words above. At that time, the vast majority of Treaties in British Columbia remained unsettled, which means that the Traditional Territories of Aboriginal people and communities in BC also remained unceded.

Since then, court challenge after court challenge mounted by Aboriginal groups and communities have worked their way through the Canadian court systems – several of them resulting in favorable decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada. Many of them stating a similar message… ‘get back to the negotiating table and figure this out’ and do it in ‘good faith’…

And, yet… one more lawyerly report to the Federal Government comes out stating the same thing again. “Build Trust” ‘build inclusion’ ‘reconcile’… ‘build trust’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘reconcile’… the ongoing legal mantra… not so much the ‘legislative’…

The response from former investment banker, and now Federal Minister of Natural Resources:

“The themes of the Eyford report — trust, inclusion, reconciliation and action — can guide all parties in building further the relationships that will underpin responsible resource development and the participation of Aboriginal Peoples,” said Minister Oliver. “We will now engage on the report with Aboriginal Peoples, as well as provinces and industry, and identify the most promising avenues for meaningful follow up.”

Sounds ‘promising’…

I can take a wild stab at this… after some 150 years of history… the most ‘promising avenues’ in the relationship between the Federal government and Aboriginal communities, will not include “trust, inclusion, reconciliation, and action”…

They were not very ‘promising’ ten years ago, twenty years ago, and so on… why would they be now?

Plus, now there’s a problem… Eyford’s report suggests, in one of his first recommendations, in the “Building Trust” section:

The sub-title for this section is: “Constructive Dialogue on Energy”

Shouldn’t that have maybe happened before Enbridge proposed the Northern Gateway pipeline? And maybe before anywhere between four to six natural gas pipelines were put on the book in BC, and then Kinder Morgan proposed to twin their oil pipeline to Vancouver…?

Well, this is actually one Eyford’s recommendations a little later on in the “Advancing Reconciliation” section…

page 37

I am wondering though… who’s going to pay for these “conferences, workshops, and community forums”? Are the feds going to pay for isolated communities to get community members to these? What about communication barriers, English literacy challenges…? What sort of timelines?

Whoa… I guess these might be too logical to be asking…? (too complex, too difficult…)

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Eyford’s report also enters the sticky, complex realm of “Cumulative Impacts”:

page 14

Eyford highlights a quote from a recent court case in B.C.:

He fronts another recommendation:

page 15

This after suggesting:

page 14

So where do we start assessing the ‘accumulation’ of ‘cumulative’… 2005, 1990, 1950, 1900, 1867…1763 (the year of the Royal Proclamation)?

And how is ‘Canada’ (e.g. the Feds) going to undertake this in light that BC is responsible for ‘negotiating’ the Treaties, or other government-to-government agreements? (Bit of a sticky one here…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The final recommendation out of Eyford’s report is a ‘capper’…

page 44

I’m going to keep posted for when that starts for Conservative/Reform MPs, including Joe Oliver.

The combination of the two reports – Eyford’s on ‘Forging Partnerships, Building Relationships’ and the Joint Review Panel’s report on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline – create some interesting and curious issues to be watched closely as this all moves along. However, the cynic in me tends to jump on this suggesting I know where these recommendations from Eyford will go… good old responsible, sustainable recycle bin in the PMO. [Prime Minister's Office].

How’s the old jingle go…?

‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.’

Stay posted… however, I smell timelines similar to the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline… what were those? Well, proposed sometime in the 1970s, still not built, and now basically obsolete…

What is non-measurable and non-predictable will remain non-measurable and non-predictable no matter how many PhDs you put on the job…

quotes from Taleb's "Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder"

quotes from Taleb’s “Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder”

A fantastic book that I recommend for all fisheries scientists (and otherwise) out there. Nassim TALEB1-300x300Nicholas Taleb’s “Antifragile: Things that gain from Disorder” – just recently released.

There’s a pretty decent review at Scientific American that sums things quite well:

…he’s brilliant, funny and fearless and tackles consequential topics. What are the limits of science? Of understanding and prediction? Given our limited ability to know and control the world, how should we live our lives? How can we prosper in spite—and even because—of life’s vicissitudes?

A former derivatives trader, Taleb made his reputation by bashing conventional economics and finance, but his scope has always ranged far beyond Wall Street. His Big Idea is that life inevitably serves up surprises, or “black swans”–from AIDS and nuclear weapons to the 9/11 attacks and the internet—that our necessarily retrospective models of reality cannot foresee.

…Here is how he sums up his message in The Wall Street Journal: “We should try to create institutions that won’t fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events… To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder.” That is what Taleb means by “antifragile.” He offers some suggestions for achieving antifragility in government, business and other spheres: “Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.” “Favor businesses that learn from their own mistakes.” “Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.” “Trial and error beats academic knowledge.” “Decision makers must have skin in the game.”

Taleb has a decent editorial in the Wall Street Journal this past November:

Learning to Love Volatility: In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Several years before the financial crisis descended on us, I put forward the concept of “black swans“: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of Google.

I also recommend Taleb’s earlier book from 2007, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The review on Amazon sums it well:

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

This certainly sounds like the 2010 return of Fraser sockeye… the big one. And in turn the ‘collapsed’ run of the year previous.

There are some pretty good YouTube clips of Taleb speaking. He’s known to be volatile and unpredictable at times. In one of his calmer appearances, he has a great comparison between plane crashes and bank failures…

He suggests that when a plane crashes, generally people die – however, we learn from those crashes, which in turn reduces future plane crashes.

Yet when big banks crash and fail, we don’t learn from those events and in fact, more big banks fail more regularly.

Taleb suggests, as the handwritten quotes above suggest, that we spend far too much time and resources trying to predict things, that we can’t in fact predict.

Hmmmm. like salmon runs? for one.

And two, predictions of how many salmon can be caught from those badly predicted run sizes… yet retain the ‘health’ and ‘resilience’ of these runs, or collection of salmon runs which comprise the Fraser sockeye runs?

And so on, and so on.

We know that the concept, and formulaic practice of determining Maximum Sustainable Yield in fisheries is a highly failed, flawed, and screwy model. It should be banished, yet it still dominates ‘fisheries management’…. [see free E-book in right hand column]

…that term in itself a misnomer… it implies we can ‘manage’ the fish, and in turn the ‘fishers’ that target and bonk them… the latter being somewhat more ‘controllable’… ‘manageable’….

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wading through Justice Cohen’s reports, evidence (or lack of…), and 1000+ pages makes me think of Taleb’s quote above: ‘the limit is mathematical, period, and there is no way around it on this planet. What is nonmeasurable and nonpredictable will remain nonmeasurable and nonpredictable no matter how many PhDs you put on the job.’

And like banks and politicians — no one is held accountable for making bad or wrong predictions based on complex spreadsheets and formulaic equations. As Taleb essentially asks: what if we held scientists accountable, would we continue to get the same bullshit models and faulty prediction regimes? He suggests that far too few ‘predictors’ and ‘spreadsheet makers’ are ever held accountable for their ‘predictions’.

What if fisheries scientists and predictors and prognosticators were held accountable for their predictions? and risk models? and so on…?

Would we all of a sudden see a massive simplifying of this ever-increasing ‘science’ which is not really a ‘science’. Similar to economists, fisheries scientists can predict future salmon runs with as much accuracy as the prognosticators predicting where financial markets will close next Wednesday…

They/we can’t.

So why do we continue to waste millions and millions of dollars on faulty science, predictions, consultants, law professionals, and so on.

As has been pointed out in recent posts, and many past posts, wild salmon inhabit far too many vast areas (e.g. the North Pacific) of which we will never, ever be able to make accurate ‘predictions’ about. So why flaunt and flit about suggesting that we ‘understand’ things that we don’t…

It’s kind of like lying on one’s resume then getting the job, or taking performance enhancing drugs for decades and yet maintaining innocence, or lining one’s own pockets or those of their friends while an elected politician…

“Our track record in figuring out significant rare events in politics and economics [and natural systems] is not close to zero; it is zero.”

statistical scientific sandbox struggles

beware

I came across this quote recently, in a book about fishing communities and economies in Iceland: “Coastal Economies, Cultural Accounts…” by Gísli Pálsson:

The scientist and the fisherman dwell in the same social world, and if they represent it differently it is not because the latter [the fisherman] remains trapped within his cultural conceptions whereas the former [the scientist] can see the reality beyond, but because their respective positions within the social world constitute them as parties with different and often conflicting interests.

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Related to this, some other recent research… a book called “Battles over Nature: science & politics of conservation” edited by Vasant Saberwal and Mahesh Rangarajan:

…any form of knowledge is embedded within a specific social context, a context that influences the process by which information is generated, processed & disseminated. Science in and of itself is no more objective or neutral than the knowledge generated and sustained within communities that use a particular resource.

The collection of information through the former [science] takes place in a more formally defined context than the latter [local knowledge], but both, ultimately are products of specific social contexts.

Further along, they suggest:

“It is when science claims to be necessarily better than other forms of knowledge, basing the claim on notions of objectivity and neutrality, and where this superiority is used by the scientific community to claim primacy of decision-making — then there is cause for concern.”

And,

… despite the ‘rigor’ of science — a series of studies has demonstrated that the questions asked by scientists are influenced by many factors including scientific concerns of the day, priorities of funding agencies, one’s own social context, and that experimental data may be interpreted to conform to existing paradigms.

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Going back to Pálsson and his studies of Icelandic fishing communities and their move from small local fisheries to fully globalized factory fisheries and now?…. depleted runs and ‘fisheries…

(tough concept… I know… ‘no fish, no fisheries’…complicated… complex…)

… and in recent time their return to more hook-and-line fisheries as opposed to the factory mothership vacuum cleaner, by-catch tossed overboard model employed by much of the rest of the world (and supported by green-washing initiatives such as the Marine Stewardship Council)…

Pálsson:

…I emphasize that ecological knowledge — the knowledge of scientists no less than that of indigenous theorists — is inevitably socially constructed.

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to the philosopher, philosophizing… Nietzsche:

… the base thought of science is that man is the measure of all things. Otherwise said: all natural science is nothing but an attempt to understand man and what is anthropological; more correctly, it is an attempt to return continuously to man via the longest and most roundabout ways.

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To another recent book picked up in rambling research: “Handbook of Economic Anthropology” edited by Bill Maurer:

… a mathematical formula cannot be interviewed; its makers and users can, but the results it produces can have effects unintended by and outside the control of those human agents.

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And a gool ‘ol Canadian puzzler, John Ralston Saul and his plea for common sense, albeit sometimes in a contradictory form of shouting for simplicity in some pretty dense verbiage (at times), however this rings with some ‘sense’ (from his book “On Equilibrium“):

What is common sense if not shared knowledge?

It is not understanding. Many may find this a difficult idea to accept — that we can know something we don’t understand. Not only can we know it, we can use the knowledge. We must simply be careful not to slip into superstition…

…Superstition is indeed an innate force within us. But we have qualities to help us control it. The shared knowledge of common sense is one of them. You can’t banish superstition. You deal with it. There is a surprising calm in common sense, a stubborn calm which resists the negative aspects of panic.

Take what are presented as natural economic forces. They can only exist to the extent that humans exist and therefore are not natural. The market in software would be surprisingly quiet if put in the hooves of sheep. Cattle have minimal interest in e-mail.

Economic forces must take their appropriate place as dependents of humans; more precisely, as dependent upon human characteristics in order to be shaped appropriately to our circumstances. And those human characteristics are themselves inferior to and shaped by human qualities.

Ralston Saul continues his appeal to common sense as ‘shared knowledge’ suggesting that “the complexity of shared knowledge reminds us that, if one globalization model claims to be the voice of inevitable forces, a dozen other models will appear which don’t. If humans deal with their superstitions and ideologies in an unpanicked manner, then the sensible not-inevitable models will predominate in the long run”

All of this is tied to common sense as ‘shared knowledge’.

What are these apparently “inevitable forces”?

Look no further than the “invisible hand of the market” — good ‘ol Adam Smith’s theory of economies and markets. Leave things to the free market and the ‘invisible hand’ will guide them right… (sheez, doesn’t reek of Christian Ghad overtones at all…)

Yet, the ‘inevitable’ forces of globalization, free market economies, and subscription to science as truth, are what many ideological forces fully subscribe to — especially various governing regimes such as the one currently in Canada.

Ralston Saul:

“We often think of definition as the cornerstone of reason – as our protection against superstition, prejudice and ignorance. A definition is therefore intended to clarify things, to free us from action. But what we have seen in our society is that a definition can just as easily become a means of control, a profoundly reactionary force.”

And he uses a great example for pointing to the point I’m niggling away at…

… the whole idea of a society of winners — a place known above all for its best — leads with surprising speed to a narrow pyramidal social structure. And then to division and widespread passivity. That in turn leads to false populism and mediocrity; to a world obsessed by bread and circuses [think current political circus... or, professional sports... or, Hollywood starlets], Heroes and the need for ‘leadership’.

He suggests that the variety of competitions between ‘certainties’ (think of the opposition of politics and political parties in Canada), has led over the past two hundred years towards: “a civilization of structure and form over one of content and consideration. The way we come at every question is structural, managerial.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Let’s look at a salmon issue for example… the Terms of Reference (structural, managerial) for the Cohen Commission, as summarized in one of the interim reports:

Cohen Commission Terms of Ref.

That’s about as ‘structural’ and ‘managerial’ as it gets — and scouring the pyramids of scientific reasoning and bureaucratic bafflegab.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ralston Saul’s example:

…In 1997 the World Trade Organization ruled that the Europeans were wrong to ban American beef raised with hormones because there was no convincing scientific case that the hormones represented a health risk. Put aside what you might think about hormones and beef. The central question is elsewhere.

It begins with an absolute certainty: that social policy in a democracy must be based not on popular will — the legitimacy of the citizenry — but on proof; in this case scientific proof. In other words, that our choice must be based on science. But in fact the science in question is not exactly science because it is limited by an initial question formulated in the context of commercial interest.

In other words, food should be considered first as a commercial object, second a scientific object and only third a matter of social, health, cultural or, indeed, of personal choice.

Hormones or no hormones. Health or sickness, sickness or health. The question on both sides is commercially constructed. Is the producer to be permitted to express the right of absolute ownership — that of maximized profit? Or is the producer to be punished by the cost of health needs? And in that context, what is the definition of a health need? No other important, non-commercial questions is admitted to.

[Do you see much difference with the current raging debate surrounding industrial-based open-pen salmon farming on the BC coast and other coastal areas of the world?]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So let’s put some of this in a current light…

This headline coming out of the Alberta election:

Wildrose leader booed at Alberta debate for doubting climate change science

EDMONTON — A live audience heckled and booed Alberta Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith at a leaders’ debate Thursday after she said she isn’t convinced that climate change is real…

…“We’ve been watching the debate in the scientific community, and there is still a debate,” Smith said. “I will continue to watch the debate in the scientific community, but that’s not an excuse not to act.”

Really… is this a surprise?

A candidate funded right out of the oil patch — similar to Canada’s current PM — a climate denier!… say it ain’t so…

And is this really all that much more of a surprise coming from someone like Smith, whose husband ‘Dave’ is a senior executive with the Sun Media Group, which owns and runs a bunch of Alberta newspapers and the fine, full of journalistic integrity TV Station SunTV with the likes of Ezra Levant hosting a regular talk show…?

…the same Levant that wrote the book “Ethical Oil” and essentially coined the term for the Harper regime to shop around the world how “ethical” Canada’s oil is…

i’m shocked… (you probably can’t read how firmly planted my tongue is in my cheek…)

Oh, but hey, you can go read a similar story at Sun Media (you know the same place where Ms. Smith’s husband works…):

Smith stares down global-warming cultists

Shocking revelations have come to light about Alberta’s Wildrose party.

Leader Danielle Smith has solidified her views on the theory of global warming: “The science isn’t settled and we need to continue to monitor the debate. In the meantime, we need to support consumers in making the transition to cleaner fuels.”

“The science isn’t settled.” That’s it. Pretty ho-hum if you ask me, nothing earth-shattering. A legitimate statement of the situation.

Because, despite what the global-warming cultists would have you believe, the debate isn’t done — not by a long shot. And the breathless mainstream media has jumped all over Danielle Smith like she was a heretic confessing before an inquisition…

Yup, there you have it… the “global warming cultists”… hmmmm…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The problem here, goes back to the rational dependency on “science”… of which all sides of debates are guilty of… from the green flapping left wing to the blue flitting right wing.

Yet both trying to demonstrate the ‘righteousness’ of their flight path… e.g. opposite the other wing…

The problem with that… it’s not very conducive to flying anywhere… especially if you’re responsible for being ‘governments’… and thus an electorate… and thus average & not average every-day folks.

Ralston Saul lays this one out well, suggesting that obsession with structural and managerial approaches have done away with common sense and shared knowledge. He uses the example of homelessness and the divide between rich and poor in democratic societies.

We could actually do something about it… maybe even with little effort and little money… however we insist instead on pouring money and effort into things after the fact. After people and families (you know the same families that every politician blubbers on about these days as being so important…) have fallen off the edge into the zone of the excluded, marginalized, and in a situation of not being able to afford housing, necessities, etc….

… efforts focus on pouring money into homeless shelters, emergency services, food banks, drop-in centres, etc. as opposed to simply providing the means (e.g. affordable housing) to get back over the ledge away from the exclusion.

How’s that old saying go about an ounce of…. errr… ummm… oh right… “prevention”…

Ralston Saul does the same with explaining famine. Rather than proactively identify the possibility of famine before it happens, we wait until there is a body count and then governments respond with air drops of food, troops, cash… errrr… loans, etc.

As he suggests: “It isn’t that those responding are unwilling to address the issue of civil wars and landownership. But before they did so, they would have to address key structural problems. For a start, most international aid agencies have one department for dealing with development issues and another for emergency issues such as famine. As if one did not lead to the other….”

He continues:

The same could be said about our response to global warming. For every problematic statistic a theoretically rational reply can be made with a reassuring statistic. The North Pole melts and there’s an immediate chorus chanting that it has happened before. Specialists say polar ice has reduced by forty percent in recent years and continues to shrink by four percent a year. Someone funded to argue the opposite pumps out a reply from an ‘independent’ source.

In an era of utilitarian facts, each side argues its numbers, like little boys caught up in an analytic sandbox struggle.

And thus, folks like Ms. Smith and her girl gone Wild denial Party can come out with easy statements suggesting that the ‘science’ is not conclusive.

Yea… well of course it isn’t, it never will be.

This of course isn’t assisted by the fact that Oil companies now fund various University Research Chairs, including at the University of Alberta and Calgary. Not tough for theses types of positions to plant a little seed of doubt.

Off goes Charles Adler at Sun Media in his opinion piece quoted above:

Regardless of what you think of global warming, oilsands emissions make no difference. Canada produces 2% of all emissions, with our oilsands contributing only about 0.2% of global CO2. We could cripple our economy tomorrow, shut down the oilsands completely, our country could take itself back to the Dark Ages and it just wouldn’t matter. Yet the global-warming alarmists treat the people who question their stupid demands like heretics.

Yup. there’s a couple of the little boys and girls in the sandbox… throw stats like handfuls of sand… or the more damaging Tonka truck.

“ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark…”

See… when ‘scientists’ choose to enter this realm of tossing handfuls of statistics, and sand… it will most likely meet one of those ‘laws’ of physics.

‘every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction’

And thus, the ‘science’ can in fact become a part of the problem. Ideological, populist regimes such as the ones rising to governing status can simply put up a mirror and throw the stats back, planting seeds of doubt, and down the drain goes some common sense.

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I tend to float close to Ralston Saul on this one:

You could describe our obsessive overfishing as a sort of institutionalized panic — a terror before the idea of simply looking at all we know, putting it into an integrated consideration and then acting upon the resulting probabilities…

…Panic is brought on by a denial of shared knowledge. It feeds on the absence of belief in a larger good. And results in an urgent conviction of the absolute necessity of apparently utilitarian, narrow, short-term actions…

Gee does this ring of Conservative/Reform Joe Oliver, Canada’s Natural Resource minister this week, in the previous post on this site:

“We are at a critical juncture because the global economy is now presenting Canada with an historic opportunity to take full advantage of our immense resources,” he said. “But we must seize the moment. These opportunities won’t last forever.”

Let me put that bit from above in again: “…And results in an urgent conviction of the absolute necessity of apparently utilitarian, narrow, short-term actions…”

Ralston Saul continues:

What common sense provides is a clear sense that nothing is inevitable; that we belong to a society. Panic of this sort is therefore unnecessary. We are too intelligent for that.

What prevents us from acting as if we were that intelligent is our unwillingness to insist upon integrated thought — that is, to act as if we shared knowledge with others in our society.

Hmmm….

yea, what a thought… ‘integrated thought’….

Here is a drawing I did recently to try and show that in relation to some current work, especially in relation to what the Cohen Commission probably should have spent a lot more time focusing on in trying to understand declines of Fraser sockeye:

integrated thought?

.

Of course the moment this image is put on paper it captures and represents something static… the reality is that these circles… well… they shouldn’t be circles… but whatever they are, amoebic, fluid… they should be flowing back and forth, thus increasing and decreasing the “somewhere in between”.

both at the same time, increasing and decreasing, flipping and flopping, hurtling and crawling through space.

You might think you’re still, but you’re spinning at about 1600 km/hr as the earth spins, and you’re blasting through space, in the journey around the sun, which is also rocketing around the galaxy at some 220 km/sec.

(… or so say the scientists … i’m often curious what the point of reference is for measuring those apparent ‘speeds’…)

Life is always a struggle of dynamic balance, and impossible balance really because when can you say you hit the sweet spot? As the moment you try to define it, it’s gone.

A mere image… or is it a mirror image…?

Like the age old problem of trying to define the position and speed of a particle at the same time… fixity out of flux… dynamic equilibrium as the saying goes. Constant movement, yet a search for placement; stillness.

Yet once placed, then seeking movement. Once moving, seeking rest…

In the words of shampoo bottles, and consumer culture… Rinse and repeat if necessary…

Sadly misplaced focus…? $30 million to ‘eco-terrorists’ opposed to irresponsible oil and gas dev… Yet,$10 Billion of PetroChina ‘investment’ in Canadian sovereignty?

do you know the story of Cerberus the mythical three-headed dog that guarded the gates to Hades?

.

Shhhh… nobody tell the “Harper”- Reform government that maybe they are misplacing energy, time and resources barking up the wrong tree..

And… maybe opening a real can of worms that some folks flapping their Right wings may not want opened… (not mentioning any – Fraser Institute – names…)

Or… is this ruse to bark up the enviro-terrorist tree simply an effective ploy to keep us all:

Hush, Hush

…about the huge increase in PetroChina (Chinese government owned corporation) multi-BILLION dollar investments and direct purchases of Canada tar sands projects, and natural gas, and… and… and…

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Coming from the National Post newspaper:

Are new guidelines for charities just upholding current law or a way to silence oil-sands critics?

The Conservative government will keep a closer eye on environment-focused charities accused of breaking rules that cap their political activity, cracking down on groups that allegedly engage in politically charged work beyond the legal limit.

Thursday’s budget arms the Canada Revenue Agency with $8-million over two years to ensure charities devote their resources to charitable work and to improve transparency by asking them to disclose the extent to which their political activities are funded by foreign sources.

“[Some charities] are not acting like they’re a charitable institution; they’re acting like they’re an environmental lobbyist — that’s the big objection,” said [Professor] Frank Atkins, a University of Calgary economist. “They’re hiding behind their charitable status.”

The revenue agency says a charity is allowed to devote up to 10% of its total annual resources to political activities, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said this week the government has received “a lot” of complaints from Canadians who worry their donations are going toward political action rather than charity work.

“There is clearly a need, in our view, for more vigilance,” Mr. Flaherty said.

The question of foreign money being used to affect Canadian policy is chief among the government’s concerns, Prof. Atkins [at University of Calgary] said.

“What’s happening out here is that whenever there’s a regulatory approval process, it gets loaded up with all these obscure groups seemingly out of nowhere,” he said, referring to “deep-pocketed foundations in the United States” challenging oil-sands development and the pipeline project. “Even those using Canadian money are still not acting like a charitable institution.”

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Hmmmm… is that the same Professor Frank Atkins that is listed on the Fraser Institute website as:

Frank’s main academic areas of interest are monetary policy and the application of time series analysis to macroeconomic data. Frank had the privilege of supervising the Master of Arts (Economics) thesis of Stephen Harper, who is now the Prime Minister of Canada.

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Well… geee… National Post reporter that sounds like some credible, un-biased ‘sources’…?

Seems the Fraser Institute got quoted twice in this article… as the article finishes with:

Niels Veldhuis, a Fraser Institute vice-president, said there is no question the federal government believes some environmental groups are not abiding by the rules.

“The government ought to look into that,” he said.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Right… this is the same Niels Veldhuis who thinks that Stats Canada numbers are wrong on many Canadians ability to meet basic needs:

as of 2005, only 4.7 per cent of the Canadian population did not have enough income to meet basic needs

(Stats Can suggests its almost twice that…)

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Oh wait… is that also the same University of Calgary that has various “Research Chair” positions in its Faculty of Medicine sponsored by the likes of Enbridge, Husky Energy, and no shortage of either pharmaceutical companies or other corporations?

For example:

AstraZeneca Chair in Cardiovascular Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Who’s AstraZeneca? Well, they’re a “global biopharmaceutical company…”

Or, the GSK Professorship in Inflammatory Lung Disease — what’s GSK?

Oh that’s just GlaxoSmithKline Inc.:

“GlaxoSmithKline is one of the largest research and development (R&D) investors in the industry, collaborating with academic institutions, governments and other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to help people live healthier lives.”

Or, the Novartis Chair in Schizophrenia Research. Who’s Novartis?

Oh just this little company that:

Over the past decade, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada has introduced 20 new medicines that have had an important impact on patients suffering from a wide variety of major illnesses…

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Not that I’m necessarily saying this is “bad” or “good”…

Just asking the ‘fair question’…

as, when Harper and buddies start barking, they should probably think it through a bit, and maybe ask around their caucus:

S.H.: “hmmm Joe [as in Oliver] is there maybe some worm cans we might open here?”

J.O.: “Oh no, Steve-O we’ll just shit-can those enviro-terrorists out there in BC…”

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It’s also the same University of Calgary Economics dept that lists one of its “Affiliates” as the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Who has the mission to:

to provide relevant, independent and objective economic research in energy and environmental issues to benefit business, government, academia and the public.

And:

CERI’s economic studies are highly relevant and objective and the analysis and advice contained therein are sought by government and business planners and decision-makers.

Ahhh, yes… I read one of those highly “objective” studies from their website:

Oil Spills and First Nations:  Exploring Environmental and Land Issues Surrounding the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Here’s one of the many fine “objective” comments from the report (and it quickly becomes clear who is “to benefit”…:

A major oil spill in the Kitimat estuary region may cause a high number of sea bird mortalities as well as marine mammal and fish deaths due to the abundance of species living there and the diversity of the habitat. However, there are controls in place to reduce the likelihood of widespread and catastrophic spillage of an oil tanker or within the oil pipeline.

Even if such an event should occur, the habitat range of most species is vast enough that populations should be able to recover in time…

Oh yea… interested to see where that ‘objective’ theory comes from… (e.g. don’t worry about the effect of oil spills on migratory species…)

Or,

Conclusions on the Environment 

…Construction activities will cause a deterioration of habitat, but this deterioration is short-lived and species will be able to recover.

And, apparently, this ‘objective’ organization that wrote this little 50-page report (including relying on several references from the 1970s), is also an expert on issues of aboriginal law & aboriginal rights and title:

Aboriginal law is not cast in stone, with much depending on the nation involved and the context:

ancient Code of Hammurabi (written in stone...)

Huh… fascinating… I’m not sure that I know of any “law cast in stone”.

Oh wait… there is the ancient Code of Hammurabi…

.

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But don’t worry say the authors:

CERI recognizes the various environmental concerns and does not hold a position for or against the pipeline…

(Funny, but reading the report I caught a strong whiff of bovine deposit surrounding that statement…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Where’s the root of some of this enviro-charitable-crimes theory coming from?

Well… Vancouver-based researcher Vivian Krause (@fair questions) seems to be tooting her horn on this one…

She wrote an article in January in the Financial Post suggesting that maybe her research was at the root of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s and honorable Steve-O, great leader’s, crack-down on these apparent ‘enviro-terrorist’ organizations…

So much so that she was actually asked to come and testify at the federal House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources in early Feb. 2012.

the National Post newspaper opinion piece:

Vivian Krause: Oil sands money trail

Last week, on the eve of the environmental review for the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project that would carry Alberta oil to Kitimat for export to Asia, Canada’s Minister for Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, expressed concern that foreign-funded environmentalists would jeopardize the review and block the pipeline.

Oliver didn’t mention my name, but the research that raised concerns about the foreign funding of environmentalism in Canada is apparently mine.

For five years, on my own nickel, I have been following the money and the science behind environmental campaigns and I’ve been doing what the Canada Revenue Agency hasn’t been doing: I’ve gathered information about the origin and the stated purpose of grants from U.S. foundations to green groups in Canada. My research is based on U.S. tax returns because the U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires greater disclosure from non-profits than does the CRA.

Speaking on CBC last night [Jan. 16, 2011], Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don’t think that’s part of what our review process [for the Northern Gateway] is all about.”

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Krause has been getting some federal government airtime on this one…

A Vancouver Sun article (Feb. 9, 2011) reporting on her testimony to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources:

Vivian Krause’s conspiracy theory — you decide

Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause is one of the most controversial figures in the rather incredible battle shaping up over the Northern Gateway pipeline.  You can google her name and find various profiles, but the bottom line is that this personable Vancouver researcher has portrayed herself as a woman of marginal means who has devoted the past five years or so of her life to unearthing details about U.S. financial influence on the Canadian environmental movement…

… I should add that hers is a rather remarkable story, as she is surely more influential on Canadian natural resource policy right now than the vast majority of parliamentarians we’re paying lavish salaries to in this town [Ottawa].  Her theory about a grand “plan” behind all this money has been given credibility by none other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Enbridge Inc. CEO Pat Daniel.

[link to Edmonton journal article also by same journalist: “American anti-pipeline trusts just blowing smoke? Right and left have conspiracy theories about groups’ funding” with quotes from great-leader Harper and CEO Daniels]

Krause appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources today, and there were some lively exchanges…

The article goes on to quote some of her testimony…

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Now, if you’re curious at all, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources was:

Established by the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, the mandate of the the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is to study and report on matters referred to it by the House of Commons, or on topics the Committee itself chooses to examine.

It can study all matters relating to the mandate, management, operation, budget and legislation of the Department of Natural Resources and of organizations pertaining to its portfolio.

The issues being dealt with by the Committee that Krause was called to testify at is the:

Current and Future State of Oil and Gas Pipelines and Refining Capacity in Canada.

She testified on Feb. 9, 2011 and the transcripts are available by clicking on the link.

Here are some curious components:

What hasn’t been known until recently, however, is that some of the opponents of various pipeline projects, and the campaigns against the Canadian energy sector also have some deep-pocketed supporters south of the border. In order for the joint review panel to conduct its work in a manner that is open, fair, and transparent, I believe that funding on all sides should be out in the open.

In my review of the American tax returns of the foundations that are funding the environmental movement both in the U.S. and in Canada, I’ve traced $300 million that has gone from American charitable foundations to environmental campaigns affecting our country. Most of my analysis is based on American tax returns because the IRS requires greater disclosure than the CRA.

The $300 million is from roughly 850 grants that I’ve traced from 10 foundations. In addition to these foundations, there are an additional dozen or more American foundations that have granted substantial funds to Canadian environmental groups.

By my analysis, American funding from the foundations I’ve followed has increased ten-fold over the past decade, from about $4 million in 2000 to $50 million in 2010. Of the $300 million in American funding I’ve traced, at least $30 million is specifically for campaigns targeting the oil and gas industry in Canada

… It’s not small amounts of money from a large number of foreign sources; it’s very large amounts of money from a very small number of billion-dollar foundations.

Actually, my blog and most of my writing has been about the science and the money behind environmental campaigns. Really, it’s the use of the flawed science and some of the exaggerated claims that are my biggest concerns. Some of what the environmental organizations are saying is simply untrue…

When billionaire funders are involved in influencing public opinion and public policy on a major issue of national importance, I think the money should be out in the open, whether the billionaire funders are American or Canadian.

I believe that this applies to foreign investment and philanthropy, as well.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Well… Ms. Krause… you are EXACTLY RIGHT!

Just like Professor Atkins of the Fraser Institute… errr… University of Calgary… errr… Fraser…

What was it he said again at the beginning of this article…?

“They’re hiding behind their charitable status.”

Seems Fraser Institute (a charitable organization) researchers might be hiding behind the ‘objectivity’ and ‘neutrality’ of an academic institution…?

I find it quite curious actually… I agree with many aspects of Ms. Krause’s research and even Professor Atkins… I’ve asked similar questions since working and serving on a Board for a large enviro organization over a decade ago.

Not in a “conspiracy theory” manner, but more in a: Whose mandate are we fulfilling here?

I called these types of enviro-organizations: US-foundation puppies — and decided to find a little different line of work…

It’s pretty hard to imagine that one is doing good, principled work on environmental issues and otherwise when one’s work is simply being funded by money that was basically made by oil tycoons or computer giants, or otherwise…

As the old saying goes: “there is no such thing as clean money”…

It’s all dirty.

_ _ _ _ _ _

So What?

And, as Ms. Krause asks in her testimony, some folks suggest: “So What?…” about her findings.

I ask the same: SOOO what?

What difference does $300 million… or… errrr… ‘targeted $30 million’ make…

…when compared to the Billions of dollars that PetroChina has offered to invest in the proposed Enbridge Northern Exit-way pipeline,

Or the $2.5 Billion that PetroChina invested to buy out Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. MacKay River oil sands project.

Or, just a few months ago… (Feb. 2012)

PetroChina takes stake in Shell gas field in B.C.

Canada’s push to access Asian energy markets got a shot in the arm Thursday after China’s largest oil and gas firm agreed to buy a 20-per-cent stake in Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s shale gas properties in British Columbia.

With the planned investment, PetroChina International – a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. – has underscored its commitment to participate in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that Shell is planning for Kitimat, B.C.

Neither side would release the value of the deal Thursday, but reports in Asia pegged it at $1-billion.

Or,

PetroChina to invest $5.4 billion Canada gas

CALGARY—PetroChina has agreed to invest $5.4 billion for half of Encana Corp.’s Cutbank Ridge shale natural gas assets, enabling an enormous chunk of land on the Alberta-British Columbia boundary to be developed more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.

“This agreement is the culmination of more than nine months of discussions between PetroChina and Encana and represents both a significant achievement and a major milestone in the developing relationship of our two companies,” Encana CEO Randy Eresman said in a statement Wednesday.

That’s just a cool, $8 – $10 BILLION DOLLARS of PetroChina investment alone in Canada’s resource sector — in the last year or so…

$10,000,000,000

What percentage is this $30 million of conspiracy-theory U.S. foundation money in comparison…

I think we’re far below 0.1%…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hmmmm… like Ms. Krause testified…

When billionaire funders are involved in influencing public opinion and public policy on a major issue of national importance, I think the money should be out in the open, whether the billionaire funders are American or Canadian [or Chinese?]. I believe that this applies to foreign investment and philanthropy, as well.

Yes, let’s get those ‘books’ opened.

And while we’re at it, lets’ get those book of The Fraser Institute open as well. And maybe the the Canadian Energy Research Institute, and, heck, while we’re at it how about the Van Horne Institute as well. (Another of those neutral objective ‘think tanks’ affiliated with universities in Alberta — and consisting of a longgg list of executives from oil and gas and pipeline companies).

The Fraser Institute is also listed as a charitable organization in Canada.

Go read its Annual Reports and see if they report any real numbers…

Where is the Fraser Institute getting its money? (some suggest players like Exxon Mobil).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

All in all this fuss over where environmental organizations are getting their funds seems like the difference between peeing from a helicopter on a pine-beetle-ravaged-forest-fire (e.g. potential $30 million in opposition funds to Canada’s oil and gas sector) and the all-out Asian-giant-resource-gobbling population-exploding BEAST

of BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars… and this little issue of a Billion people or so…

And yet, the Conservative/Reform crew just allocated $8 million to the Canada Revenue Agency to ‘crack down’ on this crazed-funding frenzy to enviro-terrorist organizations… that apparently will stop at nothing to protect their backyards…

Come-on… let’s get a grip here folks.

Where’s the potential bogey-man… in OLD oil money flowing north out of the States to pay minimum wage to enviro-researchers and organization?

OR

in NEW oil money flowing in the BILLIONS & BILLIONS & BILLIONS from a government (directly as PetroChina is owned by the Chinese government… they have to do something with all that American debt they’re holding)…

…that has a rather shady and questionable practice of dealing with several things… like basic human rights (ever heard of the Tibetans? or the veto on doing something in Syria…?), the environment (have you checked Beijing’s air quality today…?), dissenters (check recent headlines), and so on…?

Which is not to suggest there is a bogey-man — simply asking where should the inquiring eye, research, and questions really be directed?

Should Canada’s “Standing Committees” be spending time on small potatoes… or the entire quarter section potato farm…?

Should Canada’s “Standing Committees” be spending time inquiring into ‘conspiracy’ theories about how the soon to be bankrupt neighbors to the south want to keep all the oil to themselves…?

Does anyone really think that these BILLIONS of dollars of Chinese investment in Canada’s oil sector are simply going to be used to ship oil and gas to the U.S. through existing transportation networks?

No frigging way!!

BILLIONS of dollars of investment by a government-owned corporation mean that that Government is going to damn well want the resources they paid for… and… well… OWN. (like the former Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. MacKay River and other projects).

Let’s maybe call off the Conservative/Reform-Cerberus (three-headed dog)… and have an honest discussion about handing away Canadian resources to a foreign entity.

Remember when Canadians ‘lost it’ over Mulroney handing away Canada to our southern neighbors through the Free Trade Agreement?

This new brand of “Conservatives” (which even the old Conservatives are uncomfortable with… eh, Joe Clark?… seem to have lost that “progressive” tagline…) seem ‘hell-bent’ on putting the dogs at the gates of selling Canadian sovereignty, selling Canada’s future, and doing a brilliant job of making a fuss about little things, so as to provide the infamous diversionary tactic…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

What does this have to do with wild salmon?

Everything!

and marine resources… and ocean protection… and shoreline preservation… and fish habitat… and water pollution… and… and…

This whole crackdown is like busting the kid that takes spare change left in a phone booth tray, while in the lobby of Enron…

It smells of something much, much more ominous… (and sadly, this is no April Fool’s…)

DFO Shitshow planning on going sneaky… Some folks seem to forget: ‘NO HABITAT, NO FISH!’

one might wrongly assume that "deterrence" is the reason...

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It has been a little while since I’ve had to do two posts in one day… however the news on the wire today regarding the Harper Government assault on fish, fisheries, coastal communities and so on — is impressive.

The graph above comes from information presented at the Cohen Commission into Declines of Fraser River sockeye.

It also comes from a press release put out today by Otto Langer an over 30-year DFO staffer, and even longer-time award-winning, fish biologist.

The full press release can be downloaded here: Otto Langer Press Release on Harper gutting Fisheries Act

Here are some lowlights of the apparent Harper Conservative plan to sneak a gutting of the Fisheries Act on to the back of the upcoming Budget Ombnibus Bill.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Langer's Fisheries Act historical summary

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Here’s the current reading of Section 35 of the Fisheries Act — pretty clear and to the point, yet still challenging to prove in court…:

current Section 35 of Canada's Fisheries Act.

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Here’s the new weasel-word, bumpf-filled, ambiguity-laced — giving Ministerial fettering to everything — language that is trying to be sneaked in without consultation with anyone:

New Reform... ahhh... i mean Conservative government weasel words proposed for Fisheries Act.

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As Langer points out in his press release:

The newly drafted provision [35(1) above that takes out 'habitat' and adds 'fish']  legislation is not intended to protect fish habitat in any matter whatsoever.

Langer’s anecdote to this is great… he remembers a time when DFO used to hand out pens at conferences and such that said:

NO HABITAT, NO FISH!

Fitting close to the press release:

nothing like a 'neutering' to ruin your day...

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In closing this pathetic state of affairs and ongoing shitshow at DFO… (and other areas of Canada)…

One could look at the graph above and suggest to Mr. “tough-on-crime” Harper that it seems crimes are going down everywhere… even in the destruction of fisheries habitat.

Look at this wonderful graph proving the ever effective crime-fighting tactic of: DETERRENCE.

Must be that Fisheries Act violations have just got so nasty and onerous for polluters that the need for investigations is dwindling, and deterrence is working….

…hmmmm….

Somehow I doubt it.

48 convictions in 1998 down to 1 conviction in 2008.

This is called a gutting of staff, balls, and teeth — and most sadly, destruction of fish habitat, especially wild salmon’s, at an alarming rate.

This also means an enforcement and compliance division within DFO that probably feels about as proud of their job as a child labourer putting together those blue jeans you’re wearing…

Nothing like job security, meaningfulness, and pride to really make a Ministry sing with glee…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Goal for Harper and his Reform buddies… 0 [zero] convictions, under the Fisheries Act.

Let’s get tough on crime, everybody…

(or fish, i suppose, depending on which way you look at it).

Plus, I was just wondering (in reference to the ‘proposed’ amendments) … ummm…

…which “fish” does not have an “ecological value“?

And could somebody please show me the legal definition of “ecological value” or even ‘economic’ or ‘cultural value’ for that reason.

That’s the point.

This is about as gray, fuzzy, and blurry as that Hawiian highway was for Gordon Campbell back in the early 2000s. [oh right, it was his personal holiday... not government business]

Translation…. 0 convictions.

(and tarsands expansion, and pipelines rammed down BC’ers throats, and more fracking, and so on and so on.)

Hold on to your hats, here comes George W. Bush Canadian-style. (sans the required apology… “oh sorry, excuse me new NDP leader” says PM-bully Harper…)

(NOT).

Think the Fisheries Act is going to get neutered… well… this ain’t nothing yet (under this ‘majority)… going to be a whole lot of current legislation losing their balls… going to be an all out choir fest.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And just to really ruin your fishy day… take a look at most recent post at Alex Morton’s website:

ISA virus in BC Supermarkets and Vedder River

She had Atlantic salmon tested that she bought at 3 B.C. supermarkets (most likely Vancouver Is.)

Five of them tested positive for ISA [infectious salmon anemia].

Yet, the Feds, DFO, the Province and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency continue to deny that ISA exists on the BC coast.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Oh wait… I can hear the response from Harpers PMO office…

“ohhhh…. you mean thatISA… we thought you were talking about a different ISA…(like the cartoon character from Dora the Explorer… or something..)”

ISA from Dora the Explorer

…oh yeah, we’ve actually known that that ISA… that nasty salmon thingy…has actually been here for decades… probably since the last Conservative majority (the real Conservatives… think Mulroney, and Clarke and stuff…) …sorry for the confusion, everyone…”

[Harper (whispering): "hey Ashfield, somebody go muzzle a scientist or audit an enviro-terrorist organization or something..."]

 

‘absence of evidence must be evidence of absence’… when it comes to ancient knowledge of fisheries?

Ancient 'British' rock fish trap dating to approx. 1000

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Over the last two days I’ve had the good fortune to listen to Dr. Charles Menzies (Associate Professor in Anthropology at UBC) speak in Prince George on two different topics – yet intimately related…

On the UBC website it lists Charles research interests as such:

My primary research interests are the production of anthropological films, natural resource management (primarily fisheries related), political economy, contemporary First Nations’ issues, maritime anthropology and the archaeology of north coast BC.

I have conducted field research in, and have produced films concerning, north coastal BC, Canada (including archaeological research); Brittany, France; and Donegal, Ireland.

Last night, at Art Space within Prince George’s independent book store Books & Company, Menzies delivered a presentation called:

Abalone, Pipelines, and Aboriginal Rights – Making Sense of Coastal Opposition to the Northern Gateway Project.

Found it to be quite a fascinating subject, quite enjoyed Menzies taking some pointed shots at academia and some ‘status-quo’ theories of some academics. Stirring the pot a little… (wooden spoon anyone?)

Namely, taking shots at some archaeologists that have adopted some rather faulty views of what folks on the coast may, or may not have been doing pre-contact.

You know at the apparent “discovery” of North America… and especially coastal northwestern North America.

In the research that informed Menzies’ presentation he visited ancient (and contemporary) Gitxaała village sites.

Gitxaała (Kitkatla) territory is south down the coast from Prince Rupert, BC and in the general vicinity south of the Skeena River mouth. As I understand it, Dr. Menzies’ family comes from that area, and he himself grew up in Prince Rupert.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

He explained that his research was quite purposely directed to do some investigation of community-known ancient village sites (and still contemporary used areas) which are along the proposed Enbridge oil super-tanker route, which would be used if Enbridge and Harper get their way in ramming a TarSands oil pipeline (Northern Exit-way) down the throats of north-central, north-coastal BC people’s throat.

(that last bit being my editorializing…).

He explained that the ‘status-quo’ archaeological ‘investigations’ and theories of this particular area suggest that people of this area did not harvest many abalone.

Community members most clearly say otherwise…

But archaeological theory continued to deny otherwise… look at our evidence, they say…

good old: ‘absence of evidence must be evidence of absence’…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dr. Menzies and his crew, through low impact archaeological investigation and community elder direction to sites, sort of blew that proverbial misguided boat out of the water.

Or… i suppose… put the bilhaa (abalone) back in the water… one might say…

Menzies’ and crew found, what one might characterize, as no shortage of evidence of abalone use by ancients. Some dating back further than 4,000 years.

Menzies has an interesting paper at his publications page documenting the ancient Gitxaała connection to abalone  — bilhaa.

Menzies_ Abalone_2010

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There’s a fitting quote early in the paper, which also relates to recent posts on this site regarding the federal government’s apparent ‘modernization of Canada’s commercial fisheries’:

The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… called into question. (And DFO gets another new name.)

Menzies suggests:

The development of the non-aboriginal commercial dive fishery in British Columbia is a classic example of competitive greed combining with ineffectual resource management to decimate a resource.

The story of the collapse of abalone (bilhaa ) up and down the coast, is a common story, caught quite well by Menzies:

Bilhaa is one of a set of Gitxaała cultural keystone species. Cultural keystone species are species that “play a unique role in shaping and characterizing the identity of the people who rely on them.

These are species that become embedded in a people’s cultural traditions and narratives, their ceremonies, dances, songs, and discourse”. Until the late 20th century, Gitxaała people were unhindered in the harvesting of bilhaa within the traditional territory and in accord with longstanding systems of indigenous authority and jurisdiction.

However, the rapid expansion of a non-aboriginal commercial dive fishery through the 1970s-1980s brought bilhaa stocks perilously close to extinction. The DFO responded to this non-aboriginal induced crisis by closing the total bilhaa fishery. DFO made no apparent effort to accommodate indigenous interests.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Abalone (bilhaa), was most certainly not just limited to the BC coast.

In a recent research project I’ve been involved in… here is an image from old Father Morice’s journals (e.g. namesake for Moricetown, Morice Lake, etc.) from Dakelh (Carrier) people in the now Ft. St. James area in late 1800s.

abalone ornament from Dakelh people of BC interior

These types of ornaments would have traveled in on the oolichan grease trails and other various trade routes including dentalia shells, and other items, with prized hides of various sorts and soapberry traveling to the coast.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

In today’s presentation at UNBC Charles spoke about his research into artisanal fisheries on the coast of France — in other words small family, or community owned fisheries…

…and the impact of globalization on these fisheries and fisherfolks.

The story is remarkably similar to the story of agriculture throughout Canada, and other areas. The move from family-owned plots of land and specialized crops, to monoculture, highly centralized and controlled institutions and corporations that control much of the flow.

As Menzies suggested, when fish prices change in Brazil it affects fisherfolks in Canada… the impact of globalization (and maybe one might suggest: ‘systems theory’…)

Similar with wheat, barley, rye, and so on…

The fish market of the globe is largely controlled by only a handful of organizations. Fishing gear is largely down to only two or three companies.

Gee, does this sound like Monsanto or other mega multinational corporations controlling agriculture worldwide…?

The benefits of this, largely benefiting only a few, and the implications and drawbacks having devastating consequences on the small players of the world — you know… the little players like community members and families.

… those same “families” that all politicians seem to be soooo concerned about…

…from BC’s current un-elected premier Clark to the highest fed levels in Canada and even current Republican blather flooding Canadian airways these days as they try and select a presidential candidate.

(gee… one might almost feel bad for all those “singles” out there… hey?)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The great thing about sitting at the ‘back’ during presentations such as Dr. Menzies’ is that one can watch the various academics squirm and frown with mere mention of ideas that might challenge the status-quo economic theories or otherwise that are currently being jammed down the whole medley of ‘students’ out there.

All the more sad as they riddle themselves with debt (students that is) the size of a small European nation and learning tired and worn out theories — such as the “invisible hand of the market” and other ‘strength of privatization’-bumpf flying around like the old passenger pigeon of old

(or running around like a dodo bird with its head cut off).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Not unlike the current Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ bumpf-filled, fluffy, blather around ‘modernizing’ Canada’s fisheries.

(yeah, sure… go for it… modernize the ‘fishery’… but I think i can safely say that the fish themselves are not all that interested in ‘modernizing’

… think it’s called barely surviving…

…fish populations around the world are on death-row, which means the fleet can be as modern as it wants to be, but an empty fish net, is an empty fish net

…even if it’s the latest carbon-fiber, titanium-lined, indestructible twine net, with GPS-spotter plane, fuel efficient, carbon credit, carbon neutral, double-hulled, long-distance trawl, Marine Stewardship Council-certified, boat and fairly-paid, union-represented crew.

.

empty is empty…

(net… river… ocean… shoreline that once had abalone…)

or we… simply… just keep fishing down the food chain until bullheads start looking pretty tasty at the latest and greatest restaurants…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Great finish to this, from Menzies (and colleague Caroline Butler) paper: “Returning to Selective Fishing through Indigenous Fisheries Knowledge”:

The historical abundance of salmon along the west coast of North America has been significantly reduced during the last two centuries of industrial harvest. Commercial fisheries from California to Alaska and points in between have faced clearly documented restrictions on fishing effort and collapse of specific salmon runs.

Even while salmon runs on some large river systems remain (i.e., the Fraser and Skeena rivers), many smaller runs have all but disappeared. The life histories of many twentieth-century fisheries have been depressingly similar: initial coexistence with indigenous fisheries; emergence of large-scale industrial expansion followed by resource collapse; introduction of limited restrictions on fishing effort, which become increasingly severe, making it hard for fishing communities to survive and to reproduce themselves.

Yet for nearly two millennia prior to the industrial extraction of salmon, indigenous peoples maintained active harvests of salmon, which are estimated to have been at or near median industrial harvests during the twentieth century.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Menzies raised this point in the discussion part of his presentation today at UNBC.

It’s one of my favorite points, which I’ve used in many presentations over the years.

In simple terms…

…the level of pre-contact salmon fisheries is estimated to actually be higher than the average annual industrial harvest of salmon over the last century.

Wow, I think I felt the flinch in the room today from a few academics…

And then the excuses and questions and qualifiers start flying when some folks realize that the pedestal that academic keeps trying to stand on is jussssst a little bit shaky.

Maybe not even shaky… it’s simply an imagined pedestal.

Just picture the classic Wiley Coyote running off the cliff chasing Road Runner then realizing there’s nothing under him…

Menzies and Butler conclude their paper on selective harvesting:

Scant attention has been paid to traditional fishing techniques and technologies and the ways in which they might contribute to sustainable harvesting and species conservation, and indeed, provide an alternative to current practices.

Traditional knowledge of salmon production may be of significant value in the current search for successful selective fishing techniques for the British Columbian salmon fisheries.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

See that anywhere in DFO’s plans…?

The image at the beginning of this post is from a British newspaper story:

Google Earth reveals fish trap made from rocks 1,000 years ago off British coast

For a millennium it has lain undisturbed beneath the waves a stone’s throw from one of Britain’s best-loved beaches.

But now modern technology has revealed this ancient fish trap, used at the time of the Norman Conquest.

Stretching more than 280 yards along the sea bed, the V-shaped structure was used to catch fish without the need for a boat or rod. Scientists believe it is one of the biggest of its kind. [Menzies might argue this as he's found kilometres of these along the northwest BC coast]

The trap close to Poppit Sands on the Teifi Estuary in Dyfed was discovered by archaeologists studying aerial photographs of the West Wales coast. [love that term "discovered"]

It was designed to act like a rock pool, trapping fish behind its stone walls as the tide flowed out.

At its point is a gap where fisherman would have placed nets to catch fish. They could also have blocked up the gap, and then scooped up fish trapped in the shallows.

ancient British fish trap

What a concept… so my ancestors in Wales and other areas were using similar selective fishing community-based technology… hmmm.

Pop this into the old search engine ‘ancient rock fish traps’ and you will find examples from around the world: the Arctic, Australia, Hawaii, Indonesia, Mediterranean, and so on…

What a concept, local knowledge being put to use to ‘manage’ a local resource. (and ensuring that resource survives for many human generations…)

I think they call that ‘rocket science’… or is it ‘not’…

science that is… it’s just knowledge… and… ummmm… COMMON SENSE.

The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… Politicians of Canada: time to get a frigging grip.

Somehow… magically… today… a deadline disappeared.

For some miraculous reason, the deadline for feedback to DFO on their new “suite of policies” was changed from today Feb. 29 to March 14, 2012.

I’m guessing that people and organizations that may have actually waded through the paper maze, were super-impressed to see the deadline magically change sometime today. Nothing like extending for two weeks midway through the deadline day…

But wait, Conservative Minister Ashfield has a press release that just went out today.

The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, announced today that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will extend the period of online consultation on modernizing Canada’s fisheries until March 14, 2012.  The period of consultation will be extended to encourage further collaboration and to ensure that voices of fish harvesters are heard.

Hmmmm. If you didn’t read the last post on this matter, have a gander here:

The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… called into question. (And DFO gets another new name.)

Wondering why maybe the extension…

new name...

Minister Ashfield says:

“Over the past several months, I have had extensive meetings with Canada’s fishing sector and I hear consistently that the system needs to change,” noted Minister Ashfield. “Fishermen want our management system to reflect their business needs.  Our role in government is to ensure sustainability of the resource and create a healthy business environment and that is what we intend to achieve.”

I bet you do… I bet you do… and I don’t imagine the lobby power of some Canadian business folks that have substantial commercial fishing interests, has had any impact on these current ‘initiatives’…?

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Latest Department of Fisheries and Oceans brainwave…?

A plan… that isn’t… actually… well… “A PLAN.”

See… a “plan” is generally defined as “a method for achieving an end.”

The online Merriam Webster Dictionary define it in a few different ways:

2. a: a method for achieving an end.
    b: an often customary method of doing something : procedure.
    c: a detailed formulation of a program of action.
    d: goal, aim.
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3. : an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective.

The Online Dictionary has a helpful definition:

a specific project or definite purpose: plans for the future.

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Well, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans apparently has a new approach: “a fresh approach.”

This from their website and fancy, glossy new document regarding the “future of Canada’s commercial fisheries” :

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An ‘IFMP’ is an “Integrated Fisheries Management Plan”.

On the DFO website, they explain the purpose of these ‘plans’:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) uses Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs) to guide the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. An IFMP is developed to manage the fishery of a particular species in a given region. IFMPs combine the best available science on a species with industry data on capacity and methods for harvesting that species.

So… I’m curious then, how business goals of “efficiency, consistency, and predictability” fit with the #1 mandate of the Department which is “conservation”?

Also wondering how ‘consistency’ and ‘predictability’ are going to work out in an industry that relies upon nature to produce its bounty?

Last time I checked, wild salmon returns weren’t all that ‘predictable’… hence why $20 million judicial inquiries and public reviews….

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I’m also a little curious, from the snippet above,  what definition of “evergreen” DFO is going by…?

I’m guessing it’s not the definition which suggests a tree that keeps its foliage…

So it must be referring to that other use of the word:

3. Something that remains perennially fresh, interesting, or well liked.

Hmmm. Maybe the editors of this fancy, glossy document might have a think about that term… especially in relation to documents (a.k.a. plans) that generally reach several hundred pages every year…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

However, in the spirit of a “fresh approach” at one of the most outdated federal ministries going, let’s look a little further inside…

… in this “fresh approach” it appears, though, that these ‘suite of documents’ will no longer really be a “plan”.

As… ummmm…. if a ‘plan’ does not have a specific end date, is it a “plan”?

Does it have an objective?

Is it measurable… and who’s measuring?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

It would seem that a ‘plan’ with no specific end date would certainly not fit into Merriam Dictionary definition 2. a as it has no end date and thus no specific end…

Doesn’t fit 2. b because after much reading and perusing, I still haven’t found anything that clearly lays out a “method of doing something.” There’s a lot of theorizing about what might be done, but show me something actually tangible and open for comment. Like…maybe…

a plan.

Doesn’t fit 2. c because there really isn’t any real formulated ‘plan of action’ — just a whole lot of theorizing about what “may” be done. (more on that in the near future).

Doesn’t fit 2. d because there is no actual “goal” — it’s a whole lot of “aspirational” — just as PM Harper recently commented on aboriginal efforts in Canada to change education systems.

Definitely not 3., as, inasmuch as there is a whole slew of documents and PowerPoint slides and PDF files, and nice little diagrams about how it all fits together – just so

There really is, however, so little substance or anything actually tangible.

You know… like a “PLAN”.

Or as the Free Online dictionary suggests “a specific project”…

This whole shenanigan is largely a paper shuffling exercise of the n-th degree. Paper shuffling ‘Pi r squared.’ (apologies to the bureacrats that have probably dedicated the last 2-3 years, hands on keyboard, typing up this slop, and meeting, and typing, and preparing PowerPoint slides, and meeting, and typing…and… and)

And, just as Minister Ashfield suggests, “Fishermen want our management system to reflect their business needs”…

Yes, I’m sure they do… however, there’s also this great slew of Canadians that also want fisheries resources — like wild salmon — to simply meet their needs, desires, spiritual beliefs, and simple comfort of knowing they are still there cycling through their millions of years old cycle, and feeding everything that they touch.

Upstream, downstream. Coast, Ocean. North Pacific Gyre. Coast, upstream, downstream…

(rinse and repeat…)

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Who’s responsible for this mess?

Producing hundreds upon hundreds of pages of documents and then labeling them nice boutique-y names like a “suite of policies” — does not a plan make…

Last thought… of which future posts will delve into…

At the moment, research and statistics suggest that just under 50% of Canadians do not have the literacy required to meet day-to-day life demands.

This means, 50% of Canadians have literacy levels below the International Adult Literacy rate survey rating of Level 3 — which is approximately the level that someone graduating from high school reads at.

Yet, Minister Ashfield carries on about:

It is estimated that 80,000 Canadians make their living or a portion of their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities. But current practices and regulations, along with a challenging global market, are increasingly restricting the ability of Canada’s fisheries to contribute to Canadian prosperity in a changing economic climate.

Well… if close to 40,000 of those Canadians do not possess the literacy skills required to meet day-to-day demands of life — then how the hell are they going to wade through the hundreds and hundreds of pages, PowerPoint slides, pathetic YouTube videos of PowerPoint slides, and webpages to adequately “comment” and be adequately “consulted” on an issue that affects Canadians from coast to coast to coast?

Politicians of Canada — time to get a grip.

 

The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… called into question. (And DFO gets another new name.)

New name at DFO: "Department of Fisheries and Profits"

A new name has yet again been adopted by the ‘Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ in Canada.

It will now be called the: “Department of Fisheries and Profits”. 

Cutely referred to in Ottawa (about as far from Canada’s fishing industries as one can get) as DFP.

new name...

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The image above is from a recently released ‘discussion paper’. From what Google suggests, this document was posted in mid-January 2012, quite quietly apparently. Some groups, such as First Nations in BC just had it sent to them in the last few days.

The deadline for comment on this paper — which doesn’t actually really have anything of substance to “comment” on is Feb. 29th (less than a week from now).

As PM Harper likes to say… this is an “aspirational” document.

With next to no substance. In other words… salmonguy words… this is a bunch of fluff, bumpf and BS.

It’s also a schizophrenic document that contradicts itself at several points — however, the one thing that it makes abundantly clear: Canada’s fish populations are for economic prosperity first.

The sustainability section comes up on page 18 of 28… just after the “Prosperity” section.

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One of the odd things about this “aspirational” document, is that it comes out while Justice Cohen is still buried in his (and his team’s) work in producing a report on the $20+ million Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye declines.

This is the same Commission that essentially forced DFO to shut down in the Pacific Region and dedicate itself to defending and justifying itself and it’s actions since the last five or so Fraser River sockeye commissions, reviews and so on….

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Let’s take a quick tour inside of DFP’s latest: “aspirational document”:

Isn’t this just the cutest thing…?

so cute...

Rather than using the old business term “bottom line”, the clever writers and designers of this fancy document used “the top line” — so many double meanings & entendres…

They’re so cute there at DFO (like Harper and his scratching the $10 million panda bear in China).

But let’s get right to it.

This comes early in the document… and here we have it as highlighted above:

…create a business environment conducive to economic prosperity

So let’s not shy away here. Let’s just get right to it.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries & that Other stuff. (DFO) is very much now about ‘maximizing profits‘, ‘economic prosperity‘ and ‘good business environments’.

Good thing.

Especially when Canada is also ranked 125th out of 127 Nations in fisheries conservation — as reported in a recent Royal Society of Canada report.

(see: Canada is pathetically ranked 125th of 127 countries in fisheries conservation… )

And not to mention those other pesky fisheries stats from around the world (let’s just say they aren’t really a positive, feel-good type thing):

Oceans’ Fish Could Disappear by 2050: Without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, our oceans could essentially become barren deserts.

THE GIST

  • Fishless oceans could be a very real possibility by 2050.

  • According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed.

  • One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source.”

“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

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So, yeah… let’s get Canada’s fisheries harvesters: “to self-adjust”, as suggested in image quote above:

what does "self adjust" mean?

Ummm, DFO… errrr… DFP… what exactly does “self adjust” mean?

Does that mean when estimates suggest population is down, then fishers should stop harvesting?

Or… does it mean, if market says: “we need more fish!” that we just keep harvesting?

Which takes priority — resource fluctuations, or market demands?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Curiously, the online free dictionary offers this definition:

Self-adjusting: Capable of assuming a desired position or condition with relation to other parts, under varying circumstances, without requiring to be adjusted by hand.

Hmmm.

Now this definition refers to machines and such, but it’s decent one to run with here — since DFO provides no definition of what this actually means.

If you’ve read older posts on this site, or simply look up the etymology of “manage” or “management” it comes from Latin “manus” which means hand, and maneggiare “to handle,” especially in relation to horses.

(or… I suppose, in this case, fish harvesters…)

So, management, has to do with handling others (such as horses, or people fishing, or through other regulations). Or… should we also be thinking about the good old Adam Smiths’:  “invisible hand of the market” — which refers to ‘self regulation’…

As some online definitions suggest:  Smith’s invisible hand refers to an “important claim that by trying to maximize their own gains in a free market, individual ambition benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions.”

Hmmm. Sounds like the history of fish harvesting on the planet.

I don’t think people fishing for a living, or simply fishing for food for their family have “no benevolent intentions”… many may actually be very conservation-minded (I know several). However, it’s simply a numbers game. We have taken far, far, far too many fish over the last century and more, and in the meantime nuked fish habitat.

See along with dancing Adam Smith and his invisible hand is dour Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons.”

Doesn’t “self regulation” and “tragedy of the commons” kind of go hand-in-hand… you know… like do-si-do (prounounced doe-see-doe) your partner in square dancing…?

Nothing like: ‘Self-regulating your own tragedy

…which we will all have in common,

as will our grandkids….

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Bottom line on the “top line” folks, when it comes to the future of Canada’s fisheries:

Prosperity... folks... prosperity

This is page 14 (of 28) so right in the middle of the document.

But read carefully: essentially, and I paraphrase. There are “restrictive licensing rules” and economic prosperity is limited…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Similar to this thought, comes from Page 7 of the document:

"management needs to change"

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You know, I couldn’t agree more with the “patchwork manner”.

The 'mystical', mystery, "Wild Salmon Policy"

I’ve shared this image far-and-wide.

I was involved in early consultations on DFO’s… errrr… DFP’s “Wild Salmon Policy” in the late 1990s when it first started as an “aspirational” document.

And… well… we’re still “aspiring”…

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_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
And so continuing on…

The document above suggests:

“decision are often made ad hoc instead of in a structured, strategic way…”

and, apparently: we’re having trouble “maximizing economic benefits” for the fishing industry.

Hmmm. I don’t imagine overfishing and mis-guided policy drivers such as “maximum sustainable yield” over the last century have anything to do with our fisheries issues these days…?

OH, BUT WAIT…

Here it is… don’t worry… I found it at the back of the document:

"Sustainability" the biggest, mean nothing word of the new millenium...

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… DFP (formerly DFO) is going to be “supporting sustainable fisheries”…

It’s just on page 18 after the section on “PROSPERITY”…

You know… prosperity now… sustainability later…

Here are the words of wisdom on: “Sustainability”:

 

"Sustainability"... the great fluff word of the 21st century

.

Look it says it, right up there…

sustainability is a top priority“… there’s great things like “precautionary approach” and “ecosystem mangement”…

(All of which simply exist to maximize those “threatened POTENTIAL economic gains”…)

only problem… just like the document says… “DFO has developed and begun implementing”…

If we’re just beginning, only just “begun”… then we might have a problem…

However, no worries mate, we now have “established a solid foundation for sustainable harvesting moving forward”…

BUT…

didn’t you just state earlier in the document that “fisheries management needs to change”…?

That fisheries decisions are made ad hoc, non-strategically, and non-structured…?

That the industry is inhibited?

That profit is not maximized?

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So who was responsible for that?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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Oh wait… the same ministry that wrote this document…

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How is it that Canadians, and the international community (of which Canada is signatory to agreements), are supposed to trust a Ministry that blatantly contradicts itself in its own “aspirational” documents?

This is rather ludicrous…

The document contradicts itself, this ministry continues to contradict itself.

This federal Ministry is a:

CONTRADICTION

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It’s also completely SCHIZOPHRENIC (and no offense intended to those suffering from this mental illness).

This type of document describes things as if it wasn’t actually THIS Department of Fisheries and Oceans that is responsible for how things used to be done.

ACT I:

(DFO says: “no, not us”)

ACT II:

It was a different DEPARTMENT… it was THAT department over there…

(“them… yup… them over there”…)

(said as they point in the mirror)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Last time I checked, many of the same people I dealt with in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ten years ago… are still the same people in the organization… just that they’ve been promoted…

The simple, “stick around long enough, we’ll promote you” policies of government ministries (apologies to those senior gov. managers that do not succumb to the Peter Principle…)

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OH… wait… just wait…

you can go comment on this ‘aspirational’ document at the DFO website.

Yes, you too, can participate in this shenanigan called “public consultation”…

They’ve helped you out, they ask you to comment on the following questions, and I quote directly from the site (and these are the only questions that are asked online — isn’t it great this whole digital public consultation thing… they’re so helpful…):

DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.   

Section #1 – Economic Prosperity

DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.  

  • Are there any rules you would consider obsolete given today’s economy and current management approaches?

Section #2 – Sustainable Fisheries

Canadian commercial fisheries have gained considerable experience in managing bycatch and discards over the years.

  • Does the proposed Policy Framework on Managing Bycatch and Discards provide adequate guidance on how to address bycatch and discards in Canadian fisheries?

 

[sorry, we just slipped that little “web of rules” comment in there… that’s not misleading in the least… not even subliminal hints for one second…]

[cuz no one likes being caught in a "web of rules" do they?... this isn't leading the witness in the least... says the judge]

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There’s little boxes for you to fill in… (so helpful).

Apparently, the sustainability of Canada’s fisheries only deal with “bycatch”…

Wow, please, someone recommend a gutting of this ministry.

You simply cannot be a “Department of Fisheries” and yet be responsible for conservation and preservation of actual fish populations.

It’s a contradiction in terms. Killing fish is not ‘conserving’ them, nor ‘preserving’ them.

Not that killing fish is bad, I like to eat them too, but I’d like me kids to be able to eat them too…

It’s just propaganda like this is fundamentally exhausting.

Still doubting that ‘marketing is everything and everything is marketing…’?

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When scientists should stick a lid on it… somebody find a ‘muzzle’…?

from Kamil Frankowicz -- titled: "Illiteracy keyboard."

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The image above seems very fitting for the following Globe and Mail article — an article on an ‘issue’ that was also picked up by news media all over the globe yesterday:

Coal, not oil sands, the true climate change bad guy, analysis shows

One of the world’s top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta’s oil sands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming and that the real threat to the planet comes from burning coal.

“I was surprised by the results of our analysis,” said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller, who has been a lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “I thought it was larger than it was.”

In a commentary published Sunday in the prestigious journal Nature, Weaver and colleague Neil Swart analyze how burning all global stocks of coal, oil and natural gas would affect temperatures. Their analysis breaks out unconventional gas, such as undersea methane hydrates and shale gas produced by fracking, as well as unconventional oil sources including the oil sands.

They found that if all the hydrocarbons in the oil sands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about 0.36 degrees C. That’s about half the total amount of warming over the last century.

When only commercially viable oil sands deposits are considered, the temperature increase is only .03 degrees C.

Ummm, doctor lads, thanks for the “modeling”… and number crunching… but what about the cumulative impact of burning all that shit at the same time…?

What are the impacts of having coal emission, gas emissions, and oil emissions all happening at the same time?

And, ummmm, what about the fact that certain models suggest that even if we stopped burning every fossil fuel right now — that the climate would continue to warm for decades, if not the next century?

(apparently Dr. Weaver doesn’t buy that argument either… cuz numbers don’t lie…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Canada’s oil sands: Not so dirty after all

…research showing that on a global scale, oil-sands emissions are not the dark-shirted villain some have made them out to be. That research, published in the journal Nature and co-authored by one of Canada’s most respected climate scientists, throws a wrench into the debate over an energy source whose reputed “dirtiness” has sparked fiery debate around the world.

The research, by University of Victoria scientists Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart, calculates the climate impact of producing the oil sands. Dr. Weaver is an internationally respected scientist who has contributed to United Nations climate-change documents. He and Dr. Swart completed several analyses.

The most important examined the impact of producing the roughly 170 billion barrels of oil-sands crude that the industry currently considers economic to produce. If it’s all hauled out of the ground – a process that will take more than a century, even at the forecast 2020 rate of three million barrels a day – the cumulative global-warming impact is 0.02 to 0.05 degrees Celsius, according to the research.

By comparison, burning all of the world’s enormous coal resources would raise temperatures 15 degrees, while consuming the new global bounty of shale gas would produce a lift of just under 3 degrees. (Using up economically accessible reserves of natural gas and coal will raise temperatures 0.16 and 0.9 degrees, respectively.)

[ummm, Dr. Weaver, doesn’t the process of extracting the oil bitumen from the tar sands take enormous amounts of natural gas? Oh right, forgot about that part…]

Thankfully the CBC running of an article on this issue captures that point:

Climate expert says coal not oilsands real threat

Weaver’s analysis only accounts for emissions from burning the fuel. It doesn’t count greenhouse gases released by producing the resource because that would double-count those emissions.

He said his paper is an attempt to bring some perspective to the often-fraught debate over oilsands development, which continues to cause major concerns about the impact on land, air and water. And emissions from producing oilsands crude are making it very tough for Canada to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

“We’ve heard a lot about how if we burn all the oil in the tarsands it’s going to lead to this, that and the other. We thought, ‘Well, let’s take a look at this. What is the warming potential of this area?’ and the numbers are what they are.”

Hmmm, I wonder how many old-time scientists are rolling in their graves?

The numbers “are what they are” Dr. Weaver?

Come on… it’s not like “numbers” are some naturally produced phenomenon, of which we humans have absolutely no control  (like climate, for example).

No, Dr. Weaver, numbers are something that are produced by humans [now through computer programming] for human interpretation and consumption — something of which is often misinterpreted, or skewed, or not considered, or (add in other problem here).

[of course not captured in all of this hoopla is that 'small' little issue of cancerous-tumour filled fish that live downstream of tar sands operations, significantly increased levels of cancer in the human communities, the legacy of these tar sands operations living on for a long, long, long time -- long past the time that all the economic benefits have been forgotten in some bail-out package]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The Globe article:

Travis Davies, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said it is “important” that analyses like Dr. Weaver’s are being done, since it might help calm “the inflamed rhetoric from the other side.”

Uh, yeah, duh…

That’s what happens when folks start spewing out ‘research’ and ‘numbers’ in “prestigious academic journals” suggesting that: “look the numbers don’t lie”

Hmmm. Wasn’t that the same argument fronted by the Enron cronies…?

No, folks, numbers can dance to any music we put to them.

And those apparently uncontrollable “numbers” become all the more ‘fraught’ when we accompany them with typed up commentary… and hence the illustration above.

Some folks should maybe simply be sent a keyboard that looks similar to the one above…

The discussion of climate change, tar sands development, coal mining, and the like — should be “often-fraught”… that is “fraught” which means:

1. Filled with a specified element or elements; charged.

2. Marked by or causing distress; emotional.

Curiously enough… the roots of the word ‘fraught’ suggest it is very close to “freight”, and comes from a similar place fraght “cargo, lading of a ship” (early 13c.)

And, ghad knows, the tar sands industry (and the current fed gov. that supports it) will be loading their ships with this cargo of: “oh look, the tar sands are benign… look at Dr. Weaver’s numbers… they don’t lie.”

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I love this line the most… it’s used in several of the articles:

Governments around the world have agreed to try to keep warming to two degrees.

WELL… THANK GOODNESS for that!!

The Governments have agreed” to keep warming to two degrees.

Well, hallelujah, kumbaya… i was actually starting to worry here… but the governments have agreed, so there is nothing to worry about… (just keep those silly emotions out of things people… they just cause “fraught” and emotion…)

Just wondering when “the governments” got that 1-800 direct line to the GREAT GUIDING FORCE, aka ghad for some, to make sure she/he keeps the warming below two degrees?

What a farce. This is scientific bumpf at its finest.

Just like the ‘scientists’ that continue to insist that we can “manage” wild salmon. Or the ‘scientist’- economists that figure we can manipulate the growing bubble of debt around the globe to make sure the “have’s” of the world stay in their little bubble…

Maybe someone could go ask folks living in the Arctic nations of the world how they feel about: “the governments agreeing to keep warming to only two degrees”?

Or the 80%, or so, of the planet’s population that lives in that tiny ribbon of land bordering the world’s oceans called: THE COAST. “Just two degrees” will probably only have a ‘minor’ impact…

[the world's  insurance industry sure as hell doesn't think so.. they're in an epic panic "fraught" with emotion]