Monday, December 30, 2013

Oil and Dirty Water - The Bear Dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Young Spirit Bear (Kermode) Wiki Image

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

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

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


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


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

References: Enbridge in Douglas Channel and the missing islands.

My Other Spirit Bear posts: