David Suzuki – Losing Hope

They say that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.  In Monday’s edition of Maclean’s (a Canadian magazine), long time environmental leader David Suzuki,  says that environmental NGO community has failed because of their inability  in convincing people that the problems the earth faces are in need of urgent change.  Caution: Rant ahead…

“We fundamentally failed to use those battles to get that awareness, to shift the paradigm. And that’s been the failure of environmentalism.” David Suzuki

Let’s be clear,I have been a fan of David’s for a long time, but to hear that  Suzuki is claiming that  the environmental movement has ‘failed’ (somewhat old news since the original blog post this headline comes from is over a year old), is like hearing Martin Luther King denounce the freedom movement in the 60s  for not achieving more.  (Which never happened). Or Gandhi saying nonviolence is a failed strategy. It feels like the old adage of “blaming the victim” because they haven’t managed to convince the sexist or racist system that they as victim, are not to blame.

David has been around for decades.  He has done more to educate people on environmental issues than I will do in a lifetime. And now he blames the NGO community, his own community to be clear, and of which he has prospered significantly over the last few decades? Does that mean his own NGO of which he asks people to donate to, is also to blame?  Would I continue to donate to his foundation after him claiming that environmental NGOs are the problem?

This article has made me look at his foundations financials.  In looking at his NGO’s financial statement for 2012, I see that they raised almost $9M Canadian and spent approx. $2.4 M on fundraising and administrative costs. That means that only 74% of his raised funds went to actually doing the work he proposes. There is no measurements of how many people they affected or what kind of impacts they had. They simply talk about broad brush efforts. What am I supposed to think about that, when the standard in the US, set by independent watchdogs like Charity Navigator are expecting much much higher percentages of funds to be used on the goals of the cause rather than the admin and fundraising? I know plenty of environmental groups that would love to be able to spend 2.4 million or more on the issues in their backyard. I belong to a few of them. We get no where near this kind of money.

To be clear, we all drive too much, fly to much,  and we are more than willing to ignore the pleas of the environmental community because it’s too damn hard to actually get out from behind our Facebook pages, where we post all these wonderful pledges to causes, and actually staff the offices that work for change. It’s not ‘fun’ though Lord knows, but most of the older generation in the States had plenty of fun in the protest movement of the 60s, screwing and doping through that, when their lives were actually in risk of being shipped to Viet Nam. And aren’t our lives at risk? Not for most.

So now it’s just, “what me worry?”  Unless you live on the Jersey Shore, Louisiana, or in the Philippines,  or any of the other hundreds of places that have actually borne the brunt of our, yes our, ways. It’s the burning of fossil fuel that is causing this, and you, Canada, and us in the USA  are the main culprits. Want to change the equation? Stop electing anti-environmental leaders.  Now. Stop electing Stephen Harper and his crony’s and the likes of Ford in Toronto, Canada. Why is the outcome of that somehow the fault of the NGO community?

A program like the launch of the space program is needed, but no one in government is able to lead. And the environmental movement is not one monolithic thing.  There is no “president” of the environment. It’s a decentralized mess, thankfully. It makes it harder to co-opt.

So who’s going to do something about changing the equation? No one. Canadian voters turn out in record *low* numbers.  Why is that? Maybe David should be challenging the voters, the readers, the people who need to vote our way out of this, rather than the tiny minority trying to do something on a daily basis. I know lots of Canadians.  Most  of them pay lip service to change, (as do many of my fellow Americans), few of them seem to actually be doing anything about it. It’s very “impolite” to bring it up in any serious way in conversation up there. Especially if you are American.  Canada has been taken over by  the oil industry, much like a 3rd world country. I talk to the 30 somethings I know up there and many of them are unaware that environmental laws have been not just weakened, but eliminated.  David can feel like he is losing ground, the movement is, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to walk away from it.  It’s time to double down. More people know about the problems of environmental issues than ever before. More people are knowledgeable that they would change, if they are given a chance to and some leadership in doing so. There was a belief that Obama was that leader, he isn’t. But that doesn’t mean that we can give up. He has accomplished some good. But he demands that the people lead and he will follow. So it means a need to work locally. More than ever.

Things are getting done by the grass roots people working in their communities, not nationally.Who’s doing something?  Well there are hundreds of local groups in the Puget Sound area, including Tribes, (known as First Nations in Canada), that are actually getting stuff done on the ground.  The NW Indian Fisheries Commission seems to be actually recovering streams and salmon runs. Are they succeeding? In some cases. These groups  are spending decades making minor but significant change. Want to donate to real change? Look at the list of NGO’s on the left side of this web page!

What will change things? A “Sputnik” like event to wake everyone up to the risk? What will it take? NYC or Manila or Sydney Aus to be wiped out in an environmental disaster brought on by the once in a hundred years storm that now happens every year? The sad reality is, yes, that’s likely to be what it takes.

Without national leaders, like Suzuki, pressing in high places, the movement never gets critical mass. The power players, like Fox News, in the US, and others, just savage the movement and no one answers their criticism.

If David needs some propping up, some way to feel like we are and can make headway, then we welcome him to get out and go see what is happening. It sounds as if he needs a break. I’ll be glad to host him any old time. Maybe it’s just time for him to stand back and appreciate all the hard work he’s done in his lifetime.  In the meantime, it’s time for the rest of us to get back to work.

Rant over…

The Maclean’s Article


David’s 2012 “dark blog” post on the failures of the environmental movement.


ScienceDaily report on Fukushima plume.

The real story, not the fake ones circulating with NOAA tsunamai maps mislabeled as this one.


Fisheries and Oceans Canada looking into claims of sick herring–Times Colonist

Less than 100 miles or so north of us, the crisis of sick herring (and the disease vector that appears to be farmed Atlantic Salmon) is about to explode.  Can our fisheries be far behind?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is trying to confirm reports from an independent biologist that herring around northern Vancouver Island have a disease that is causing bleeding from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

Alexandra Morton wrote to DFO asking for an investigation and viral testing of the fish after she pulled up a net of about 100 herring near Sointula and found they were all bleeding.

Read the whole story at the Times Colonist:


‘Crisis time’ for B.C. waters, environmental groups say – Times Colonist

Our friends to the north are taking the expanded tanker and population threats seriously. See if you are doing all you can do.

Two of B.C.’s major environmental organizations are launching a Save-the-Salish-Sea campaign because of looming threats to the delicate ecosystem. The groups are concerned about possible expanded coal and oil exports, which would increase the number of tankers and coal ships travelling from Vancouver, through the Gulf Islands and Juan de Fuca Strait, as well as existing problems, such as pollution and overuse. Georgia Strait Alliance and the Wilderness Committee are asking B.C. residents to demonstrate support for the water that surrounds them by pledging to become “caring kayakers, bright birders and savvy shoreline users.” Judith Lavoie reports.


New film on Salmon Piscine Reovirus Outbreak

While Canadian officials stonewall the publication of scientific data that shows that Piscine Reovirus in net pen raised Atlantic salmon appears to be spreading to wild stocks, Alexandra Morton and filmmaker Twyla Roscovich’s keep working to get the news out. Why  is this important? Because our Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Wildlife do not seem to have a sense of urgency on this issue, which could easily spread down here. Over 70% of the samples of store bought salmon in BC appear to be infected by the virus.

Filmmaker Twyla Roscovich traveled to Norway to ask the remaining experts who have not been forcibly silenced on this issue.  A very disturbing report from the scientists actually doing the research in Norway.

A new short film on piscine reovirus in wild salmon


Asking Norway about the Piscine Reovirus


Scientists concerned over chill in reporting of salmon virus after lab delisted – Vancouver Sun

The fallout continues:

Scientists fear there could be a reluctance to report a deadly fish virus after the first lab in Canada to say it was detected in British Columbia salmon was stripped of a special reference status by an international agency. Marine researchers say they were stunned to hear that the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, recently suspended the reference status from a research laboratory at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. Run by Fred Kibenge, who is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on infectious salmon anemia, it was one of only two labs in the world recognized by the group for the testing of the virus. Alison Auld reports.


Shredded Scotch broom to help fuel Harmac pulp mill – Times Colonist

If we are going to get forced by our legislators to have biomass plants, (which is now becoming doubtful given the latest feedback from the new PT Mill manager who said in his first interview that the economics of it was shifting and there was no guarantee that they would build the plant),  here’s a use for the new biomass plants that we can all get behind.

The City of Nanaimo has found a use for Scotch broom. The noxious weed will be shredded and burned as hog fuel to power the Harmac pulp mill near Nanaimo. This year for the first time, the city helped members of the public control the noxious weed by putting collection bins at three locations in May. Enough broom was collected to more than fill a five-ton truck. It was shredded Thursday at a ceremonial “burning of the broom” event at the fire-training yard on Labieux Road. Darrell Belaart reports.


B.C. government to freeze new net-pen salmon farms in Discovery Islands until 2020 – Vancouver Sun

Huge news! BC to freeze all new net pen licenses.

VANCOUVER — A B.C. government announcement Friday that no new tenure agreements would be issued for net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands until 2020 was immediately welcomed by one of the strongest critics of salmon farming.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/agriculture/government+freeze+salmon+farms+Discovery+Islands/8138579/story.html#ixzz2OIbEFoOf



Closed-Pen Fish Farms Offer Challenges and Opportunities: Study – Times Colonist

The evidence mounts that we can safely prohibit net pen fin fish aquaculture from being in our waters without killing the industry. It’s time to give some financial support to the industry to get them over the hump, and out of our waters. But this will also take the Department of Ecology and NOAA to get their scientists off the dime and on the same page as the rest of us. They have shown no intention of changing their industry hardened position on this. The courts likely will have to force them, and that challenge may come sooner than later.  Here’s the latest from BC, where there is a huge movement to ban net pens,based on emerging science that is very much showing problems with the industry. However the BC government has been, until recently, hiding negative science and banishing scientists who don’t tow the industry line. This is a small glimpse at the work being done there to change that. It doesn’t have to be the industry argument of “jobs or environment” . It can and should be both.

It’s technologically possible to raise salmon in closed containment pens but questions remain whether it’s financially viable for the aquaculture industry, says a parliamentary report released Thursday. The report, by members of the House of Commons’ standing committee on fisheries and oceans, was delivered Thursday and included testimony from all sides of the controversial issue of closed containment aquaculture.

Judith Lavoie reports.

Closed-pen fish farms offer challenges and opportunities: study


More on Tsunami debris coming ashore.

A good update by a helicopter pilot who has flown on the BC Coast for many years, and what he’s seeing is quite more than what we have been told so far in the press. It’s piling up out there. Complete with video.

Again, experts seem to think that there is no threat from radiation, though we are unsure how much monitoring has been going on. Our recommendation is to *not* pickup debris, as it could have toxic contaminents or be radioactive. There likely will be more official cleanup efforts in the spring.

Tsunami debris litters B.C. beaches


Native leaders plan declaration banning pipelines, tankers and oilsands–Vancover Sun

Well, this is an interesting turn of events. Canadian native leaders decide that if the Federal Government won’t protect the waters, they will. Wonder if our tribes will follow suit.

First nations leaders are expected to sign a declaration of indigenous law banning pipelines, tankers and oilsands in British Columbia at a Vancouver press conference tomorrow. The Save the Fraser Declaration, signed by 130 first nations will be presented by National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo on behalf of the Yinka Dene Alliance, several B.C. groups who have banned the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from their territories. Mayor Gregor Robertson is also expected to attend and read a proclamation from the City of Vancouver. Mike Hager and Dene Moore report. B.C.

First Nations Ban Pipelines, Tankers and Oilsands

Rare Fin Whale Surfaces in Strait of Georgia–Vancouver Sun

If you see something out of the ordinary out there, you’ll now know what it is.

A massive fin whale cruised up the Strait of Georgia to Johnstone Strait this week for the first time in recorded history. “It was photographed off Campbell River and off Nanaimo. It is the first confirmed sighting of a fin whale in Georgia Strait,” said Jared Towers, a Fisheries and Oceans cetacean research technician who has spent the summer doing photo identification of the growing number of fin whales in Hecate Strait and Caamano Sound. Judith Lavoir reports.


Cut in Canadian government funds leaves whale group on shore–Times Colonist

The cuts to environmental organizations continue as the conservative governement that has taken control of all aspects of the Federal government of Canada continue to their attack on anything that smacks of environmental protection or slowing business interests in exploitation.This affects us as it affects Canada’s efforts to protect the Orcas that pass between us and them on a regular basis.

A non-profit group that keeps an eye on boaters and whale-watchers around Victoria and Alert Bay has been beached after being denied funding by Environment Canada The Straitwatch program, run by the Cetus Research and Conservation Society, has two Zodiac boats and does on-the-water education and monitoring to reduce disturbances to the endangered southern resident and threatened northern resident killer whales.


Caffeine flushed into Pacific Ocean stresses marine life–CBC

So my question is: Is Caffeine ‘legacy’ as well as modern? Does it have a half life? Is this the caffeine that was dumped by our fathers in the 30s into the Sound after drinking coffee? Or is it modern?

Caffeine has become a significant pollutant in the ocean off the U.S. Pacific Northwest, according to a university researcher. Elise Granek, a marine ecologist at Portland State University in Oregon, sampled waters up and down the Oregon coast and found measurable levels of caffeine…Granek, who did all her initial research in the waters off Oregon, said she’s curious about caffeine levels in the Strait of Juan de Fuca between southern Vancouver Island and the Washington coast. That’s where Victoria pumps untreated sewage effluent directly into its coastal waters, and won’t have a sewage treatment facility in place until 2018.


Dr. Lawrence Dill Net Pen Presentation Now Online

If you are concerned about the latest proposals to bring net pen aquaculture to the Strait of Juan de Fuca (5 miles west of Port Angeles), or are concerned and unclear about the current standoff by the Department of Ecology and the Jefferson County Commissioners over allowing in water net pen aquaculture in Jefferson County (through the Shoreline Master Program updated), then you should take the time to listen to this lecture (it runs over an hour in total). It is, to be sure, one of the most comprehensive overviews of the possible negative impact of net pens I’ve ever heard, and is based on research done just north of us, in BC. While Dr. Dill clearly states that there are variations of environment between there and here, the issues are ones that we may face if they are allowed here. Then again, as pointed out in the Q&A session at the end, by the manager of one of the net pen companies south of Bainbridge Island, some of these issues have not shown up (though that comment was not based on peer review independent scientific research, but on experiential information. It was not independently verified and simply is presented as the point of view of the farm manager).

Dr.Dill is one of the foremost researchers on sea lice, and has a lot to say about the “possible” negative impacts of net pen aquaculture based on years of scientific, peer reviewed, published work. He was brought to lecture in Port Angeles last week, by a consortium of environmental groups concerned about the proposals for net pen aquaculture in Jefferson and Clallam counties lately. The event was sponsored by the Coastal Watershed Institute, Wild Salmon Center, Sierra Club Activist Network, and Olympic Peninsula Chapter Surfrider Foundation.

His talk was titled:
Evolutionary & Behavioral Ecology and Earth2Ocean Research Groups of Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada presented:

The discussion included:
• The impacts that salmon farms can have on wild salmon stocks
• Recent research on sea lice and other pathogens.
• How the iconic Fraser River sockeye salmon have been put at risk by salmon aquaculture.
• Degradation of the bottom communities below the farms.
• Pollution, by-catch of other fish species, escapes, and inadvertent or intentional reduction of marine mammal populations.
• New potential open pen aquaculture projects near Port Angeles.

The introduction by Anne did not have a microphone so it’s a bit noisy. Dr. Dill did have a microphone on, so it sounds better when you get to him speaking. The video was published in two parts. A shorter 10+ minutes to allow you to get the gist of the presentation, and the rest of the presentation in Part 2. The audio podcast is presented in it’s entirety.

You can view Part 1 of the lecture online at https://vimeo.com/47903851.

Part 2 is located at

Or you can listen to it online at:


I am adding the links above to the “Educational” links on the left hand side of the front page. You can always find it there if you need to refer to it later. Thanks to Dr. Dill for allowing the sponsoring groups to videotape the presentation, and offer it to those who were unable to make it to the discussion.

Dr. Larry Dill on Net Pens

BC Sockeye Season Likely to Close Again this Year – CBC

Just yesterday I heard the well worn argument by an opponent of environmental protections saying in a public meeting that the record return of BC Sockeye in 2010 was proof that scientists didn’t know what they were talking about. Well, it was a short lived record year.

British Columbia’s lucrative commercial and recreational sockeye salmon fishery is not likely to open this year, as Fisheries and Oceans Canada says there are simply not enough fish coming back.

Although there has been enough returning fish to fill the spawning grounds and open an aboriginal fishery, numbers have actually started to decrease.

In order for a commercial fishery to operate, the number of summer run sockeye salmon would have had to be roughly double last week’s count.


Another 300k fish culled in BC after virus hits another fish farm

Yet another fish farm in BC has been infected. This one near Jervis Inlet.


More BC Fish Farms found infected – Vancouver Sun

Two B.C. fish farms will cull their fish this week after receiving confirmation of a virus that can be deadly to Atlantic salmon. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that infectious haematopoetic necrosis, or IHN, has been found in salmon at Grieg Seafood’s farm at Culloden Point on Jervis Inlet and Mainstream Canada’s farm at Millar Channel in Clayoquot Sound. Judith Lavoie reports.


BC Coast Guard Union Voices Concerns over Oil Shipments

The battle for protection of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the BC Coast goes on north of the border. The BC union of Coast Guard workers came out yesterday against Canadian Government proposals to slash the vessel monitoring stations along the coast. Additionally, they are looking to ease vessel call in rules as they approach the Strait. As stated in this column in earlier entries, our government and tribes ought to be protesting loudly to the Canadians about this issue. In a few years it will be too late.


Discovery of deadly salmon virus in freshwater fish puts pressure on B.C. to conduct wider study–Times Colonist

Just north of us, over the Strait, we are now seeing the spread of the Piscine reovirus (PRV) that has been affecting farmed salmon show up in fresh water trout. Our county commissioners are continuing their standoff with the State on the issue of allowing salmon farms here in our county. 

Discovery of Salmon Virus in Trout


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 243 other followers

%d bloggers like this: