Extract: The Pipeline Wars Vol. 1: Enbridge
by Fram Dinshaw
As we approach the end of 2012, Planet Earth is a condemned prisoner, sentenced to death, strapped into an electric chair gasping its last terrified breaths, as it awaits a final throw of the switch to die.
The execution switch is the development of the Alberta oil sands, which companies like Enbridge want to export to markets in Asia by building pipelines through B.C. to tanker terminals, from where the oil can be shipped to markets in China and other countries.
Most notable is Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, which if built, would pass oil through B.C’s Great Bear Rainforest, now ground zero in a battle whose outcome could mean life or death for planet Earth, according to experts like climatologist, James Hansen, and 350.org founder, Bill McKibben.
The Vancouver Observer’s new book release, Extract: The Pipeline Wars, is an explosive and shocking warning that if the pipeline goes ahead, it is checkmate for climate change, as Earth’s icecaps melt, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the sky, causing oceans to rise, and ultimately, people and animals to die. As for the B.C. coast, with its pristine forests and wildlife, from whales to salmon, it could all drown in a sea of oil unleashed by pipeline leaks or tanker spills.
Extract states, “While at first it was contained within Prince William Sound, the oil eventually made its way far past the spill site, covering 2,100 kilometres of coastline and 28,000 square kilometres of ocean. For a regional economy that had always depended on fishing and tourism, the impact of this horrific event could barely be imagined.” (from page 65). And, that was just from one tanker, the Exxon Valdez, when it ran aground off Alaska in 1989, devastating for the people and animals caught in its path. But, there could soon be whole queues of tankers off the Great Bear coast waiting to load or unload toxic cargos, an ecological Chernobyl waiting to blow.
Extract: The Pipeline Wars Vol. 1: Enbridge, is the final result of one year’s in-depth reporting by a team of Vancouver Observer reporters, and was written by Carrie Saxifrage, Tzeporah Berman, Alexis Stoymenoff, Jenny Uechi, David P. Ball, and Beth Hong. It was edited by Linda Solomon, and the photography is by Andrew S. Wright. It is written in an engaging, easy to read fluid style that grips a reader from the first line. Its opening chapters flash between people living in Northern Gateway’s path, and big oil executives planning it out, like a recurring, terrifying nightmare that makes you wake up screaming every time.
It then builds like a deafening staccato rhythm, to its dark finale, spelling out, in no uncertain terms what this pipeline, and others in the works, will do to both B.C.’s environment and the Earth’s climate. All in all, Extract slams you like a left hook from an MMA fighter. But, this book is not meant simply to terrify, it also forces people to ask, ‘What is the real price of development?’ Is it worth bulldozing and digging up one of the world’s last remaining temperate rainforests, just for the sake of a few temporary jobs?
British Columbia is home to powerful environmental groups, including North America’s only Green Party seat, and is the traditional territory of First Nation bands who’ve lived on the land since the beginning of time. So, any struggle between ‘Big Oil’ and ‘Big Environment’ could turn ugly if the pipeline is built, something that Extract only touches on briefly, but, is well worth exploring in much more detail. That is because peaceful protests against the Northern Gateway pipeline project could escalate into violent clashes, perhaps even an Iraqi-style insurgency along the pipeline’s route in coming years, including bomb attacks and killings. Don’t forget, B.C.’s forested mountains are perfect for guerrilla warfare. The result would be political and social disaster for Canada.
Our other choice is developing Canada’s economy by scrapping the Northern Gateway project, and instead, investing our millions in ‘Green Collar’ jobs, such as solar, geothermal or wind energy. This will create thousands of new, sustainable, long-term jobs too. Good news indeed for a global economy still struggling with recession, and preserves Canada’s values of Peace, Order, and Good Government.
Extract: The Pipeline Wars Vol. 1: Enbridge, doesn’t need to be a prophecy of destroyed forests, polluted seas, and rising temperatures that is set in stone. Rather, it is a sign post at a crossroad, giving us two choices for the future. One, a continued reliance on fossil fuels that may well destroy human civilization, and trigger a mass extinction not seen since the dinosaurs, or two, wean ourselves off oil to more eco-friendly energy sources, which can preserve both BC’s beauty and our planet’s viability for future generations.
A timely reminder for us to think outside the box in stopping climate change, Extract’s message could have been made even stronger with more pictures of the Great Bear Forest and its unique wildlife, contrasting them with shots of oil wells, pipelines and tar sand oil extraction. For now, apocalyptic visions of a burning planet will have to do. Buy this book, then strap yourself in and keep those beta-blockers handy. “Extract: The Pipeline Wars Vol. 1: Enbridge” will set your heart racing, and have you sweating bullets as if it is you that is strapped in that electric chair. But, if we act soon, there’s still time to grant both our planet, and ourselves, a reprieve from the death sentence of global warming.
Extract: The Pipeline Wars – Vol. 1: Enbridge can be bought at www.vancouverobserver.com/extract