Rafe Mair on the Government and the Environment

Guest Commentary

Rafe Mair, the former Minister of the Environment of British Columbia is a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Board of Advisors.

Environmental battle lost to business, government

The defilers of the environment have won. The environmentalists, like the elephant shot between the eyes, are dead but will continue a bit before hitting the ground.
What they do hereon will be belching against thunder.

The fish farm issue is but one example, but it's close to home. Despite overwhelming evidence, fish farmers, both governments and the world's largest public relations firm, continue to dissemble, and indeed, lie about what's happening.

Ninety per cent of the ocean's predators are gone. Fishermen I have spoken with in the South Seas have nothing left to catch. Huge Japanese and Korean fishing fleets, which from the air at night look like small cities, go after the very last fish.

One sickening example is where the (mostly) Japanese fishermen capture a shark, cut off its tail and fins, then toss the animal, still alive, back into the sea. This is to help Chinese gentlemen get erections.

Some species of tiger are extinct and others, including the famous Bengals, are gravely endangered. Countries which have agreed not to hunt whales continue as if nothing was said, using the nauseating reason that they need them for "scientific research."

Exhaust from cars is one of the biggest causes of air pollution and global warming, yet our governments, rather than putting money into development of new fuels, encourage expanded exploration.

British Columbia likes exploration fees too much to care about the environmental consequences.

The media is silent. There was a time when environmental degradation was covered fully by excellent writers reporting and editorializing. No more.

The main media worldwide is tightly controlled and in the pay of industry.

Let's talk about industry, the major source of pollution if you consider that their products, such as cars, are environmental disasters.

I understand how the world works, and I vastly prefer free enterprise to any other system.

The fact remains, however, that it's the essence of industry to make a profit for its shareholders - which is most of us.
A bit of a question - suppose the CEO at a shareholders' meeting were to say "there'll be no dividend this year because, voluntarily, quite on our own, we put some very expensive scrubbers in the plant."

Those would be his last words as a CEO.

This is not to say that corporations don't often appear to be good citizens - they do because they employ huge public relations companies to shill for them.

Labour unions are no better. Years ago when I was environment minister, there was a terrible washout in the Queen Charlottes caused by atrocious logging practices. Before I could get to see it, the president of the IWA was on the phone to the premier, begging the government to lay off because there were the company's unionized employees to be concerned about.

The fisherman's union, having both commercial fishermen and fish farm employees as members, cannot, as its leaders would prefer, come down on the big foreign-owned fish farmers.

Our governments don't care about environmental concerns. In fact, they even deny basic freedoms by making it illegal for anyone to take pictures of baby seals being slaughtered.

In fairness, it must be said that Canada is not as bad as other places like the U.S., Russia and China, but you can only contribute what you have to contribute and set an example. We don't even do that.

I have barely touched on a problem which may have more to do with the earth's population tripling since the end of the Second World War than anything else.

But my question remains - why do we elect and support these people as they slowly but surely strangle the earth?

Pogo was right - we've met the enemy and he is us.

Rafe Mair writes monthly for The Langley Times. His website is http://www.rafeonline.com/