Wednesday, 22 January 2014

FUEL DISASTER !

During the recent holiday period Mrs H & myself were listening to the radio RTE 1 to be precise and we were somewhat alarmed to hear about a tiny community of aboriginal Canadians and a Limerick GP.

"Undue Alarm" is the story of how Dr. John O'Connor became a tireless campaigner on behalf of the First Nations communities - and found himself at the centre of a nationwide controversy in Canada. Limerick man Dr. John O'Connor who went to Canada to practice medicine. He had little idea how his life would unfold.
The Alberta Oil Sands is the biggest industrial project on the planet. The area currently being mined for oil is the size of Ireland. Downstream from this on the shores of Lake Athabasca lies the tiny native community of Fort Chipewyan.
A breathtakingly beautiful place, 'Fort Chip' is on the far northeastern tip of the province of Alberta. In winter it is accessible by the 'ice road' - a road that is constructed from the harsh northern climate. In summer access is by way of a small plane.
Most of the people that live here are either Méti or First Nation - that is, native Canadians who have lived on the land through traditional methods of trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering berries for generations.

In 2000 Dr. O'Connor - or Dr. O as locals call him - became family physician to the tiny community of 1,200 people. When he started hearing concerns among the community about elevated rates of cancer in the community he did something that no outsider had done before: he listened to them. Then he spoke out about it. And what happened next is not what he expected.
A raft of professional complaints were made against him by the Canadian health authorities. And he would live with one of these - 'causing undue alarm' among the community - for five years.
Dr. O'Connor went from being a simple GP to a tireless campaigner and activist on behalf of native communities in Canada.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/documentary-podcast-undue-alarm-canada-aborigines-john-oconnor-doctor.html



Greenpeace is calling on oil companies and the Canadian government to stop the tar sands and end the industrialisation of a vast area of Indigenous territories, forests and wetlands in northern Alberta.
The tar sands are huge deposits of bitumen, a tar-like substance that’s turned into oil through complex and energy-intensive processes that cause widespread environmental damage. These processes pollute the Athabasca River, lace the air with toxins and convert farmland into wasteland. Large areas of the Boreal forest are clearcut to make way for development in the tar sands, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

Greenpeace is also concerned with the social and health costs of the tar sands. First Nations communities in the tar sands report unusually high levels of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases. Their traditional way of life is threatened. Substance abuse, suicide, gambling and family violence have increased in the tar sands. Meanwhile, the thousands of workers brought in by oil companies face a housing crisis in northern Alberta.

Enbridge Inc.'s tar sands tanker pipeline proposal threatens to allow a 30 per cent expansion in tar sands development. Enbridge's tar sands pipeline would span 1,170 kilometres from Hardisty, Alberta to Kitimat, in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. Over the past decade, Enbridge's own pipelines spilled an average of more than once a week. The pipeline would cross over 1,000 rivers and streams and the Rocky Mountains on the way to B.C.'s pristine coastline. The pipeline would bring more than 200 crude oil tankers through some of the world's most treacherous waters each year.

The governments of Alberta and Canada actively promote tar sands development and ignore international commitments Canada has made to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Through direct action, we draw international attention to government climate crimes in the tar sands and demand change.

http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/Global/canada/report/2010/10/steering-clear-of-oil-disaster.pdf

http://norj.ca/2014/01/cold-lake-shocked-by-fourth-leak-from-cnrls-oilsands

Further information here: http://www.naturecanada.ca/tarsands_impacts.asp

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for bringing this appalling situation to a wider audience and linking to the radio programme about the work of Dr. John O'Connor.

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    1. In the early 60's I though about emigrating to Canada, I didn't however, I have always and perhaps naively believed to it be a country whose people were nature orientated and who treated the indigenous people with the greatest of respect.

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  2. Excellent article, Mel. So many people in Canada are fighting against this whole thing, you would not believe, but our present Federal Government led by Prime Minister Harper only encourages this rape and disregard of the our country and the residents. He is ruining our country and our reputation. He is only interested in the almighty dollar. He makes me ashamed to be a Canadian.

    Musician Neil Young just went on National Radio CBC last week and has brought more national attention to the disgusting state that the Alberta Tar Sands has become. But of course, Harper's spin doctors have come out to try to make him sound like an idiot. But really our nation is being run by an idiot. One of the problems about the whole thing is that they are paying the average tar sand workers a FORTUNE, so none of them will speak out against it. They fly in and out from all across this huge country every 2 - 3 weeks.. Damn that almighty dollar and how people are lured to it and stay close mouthed about the whole tragedy.

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    1. Thank you very much indeed for speaking the truth about this horrendous situation Gwen.
      After having listening to the programme I did some research and also sent an e-mail to some Canadians that I know to get their perspective. Then I sat back and considered how well or not this subject would be viewed. In doing this I also took into account the people from the many nations around the world who visit the blog, most of whom don't comment however, with folk from about twenty-one nations who looking in. I realised that it will get the message out into the world and get people talking.

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  3. What an appalling situation. Corporate greed and profit will be our undoing.

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    1. Very succinctly put Val. For there are now dead zones on our planet where nothing grows.Places where birds and animals die if they come into contact with the large chemical ponds. Areas of the oceans, rivers and lakes where fish are poisoned and become mutants.

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  4. Never knew about this. Reminds me of the late Lou Reed Song: Last Great American Whale. The lyrics say it all!

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    1. It is terrifying what the multi-national companies are prepared to destroy for profit.

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  5. It is all about money isn't it - and not for the communities who will be involved.

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    1. Exactly Weaver exactly and with no concern for the planet.

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    2. Dear Mr and Mrs H
      Currently we are supporting this and also Ravens Walk which is only on Facebook at the moment (from what I understand)
      http://eradicatingecocide.com/overview/ecocide-act/
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Walk-for-Mother-Earth-2012-Eradicating-Ecocide-Team-Turtle-Island/335402786527300
      And here is something that a young First Nations girl did, on her own.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9dBrlDXVskt
      (and I am pleased to say that the magazine I worked for, highlighted her effort)
      http://commonground.ca/OLD/iss/252/cg252_takaiya.shtml
      We DO vote.We DO contribute. We DO sign petitions.
      But as your blog post points out, you can see that the Tar Sands project lies squarely in the hands of the good people of Alberta who in turn are STILL dealing with the results of one of the most devastating floods in their history and that has certainly not been on the World stage.
      A dear friend in High River Alberta told me that it will take at least a DECADE before things are ‘back to normal’.
      When you are mucking out your basement and dealing with mold and rot from the floodwaters, your mind is not ‘up north with the Tar Sands’!.
      Alberta’s attention over the last few decades has been on the boom bust boom bust economy that they have gone through.
      These are the ‘Boom’ times for them and not unlike the Celtic Tiger, a feeling of let the good times roll and to hell with the rest of the world is the current view.
      Yes we are concerned, yes we protest, yes those tankers will be coming down the our BC coastline and the ocean that they will be sailing on is not called ‘the Graveyard of the Pacific for nothing!
      Our BC Premier Christy Clark is doing nothing about it and we unfortunately are stuck with another four years of her inactivity.
      The only thing we can do besides hopefully voting in someone with a brain is that we continue to protest publicly.
      Your help in bringing this matter to the world is much appreciated.
      But..and this is the Big One,..until we (and I do mean the Global We) stop sucking at the teat of dead dinosaur milk and find a cheap,viable source of renewable energy and SUPPORTS it..we will be faced with this FUELISH DISASTER among many many others.

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    3. Thank you very much Ladytruenorth for your informative comment.

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  6. I have been appalled by our federal government ever since Harper and his Tories won a majority. I fear that by the time his five year term is up, I won't recognize my country.

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    1. Dear Anne-Marie. I can empathise with what you have said because over here we too have a Right wing government and their environmental / social policies are not great.

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    2. I so agree with both of you, glad to see Neil Young taking a stand... http://www.neilyoung.com/

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    3. Thank you for your support String and good to hear from you x

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