While the strength of environmental campaigns vary each year, 2012 should be major. Here are five predictions:
The Climate Change Movement will Heat Up
The massive momentum in 2006 from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth took a beating by a global recession, Copenhagen’s let-down and a huge climate denial industry that still wins over the uninformed and myopic. However, the latest UN climate summit in Durban created a new climate treaty framework that under massive pressure can be turned into something useful and vitally important. The movement is now supercharged with fury over Canada’s withdrawl from Kyoto, and will only grow. This time businesses, unions, and faith groups must be enlisted. The positive attributes of a sustainable, low carbon society should be emphasized, including expanded green businesses and jobs, more liveable cities, a healthier and happier quality of life, greater stability and world peace, and sustaining Earth’s tremendous diversity of life. We must also get a lot more political, working to toss out climate-sabotaging Conservative MP’s.
Slick Oil Industry PR will Spread to Pipelines
While the Keystone Pipeline to the U.S. and the Enbridge Pipeline to Kitimat from Alberta’s tar sands had setbacks in 2011, next year will be different. The dirty energy barons are sure to sink millions more into sophisticated, large-scale PR campaigns. Attacks on environmentalists as being foreigner-controlled, fear-mongering about job losses, and efforts to buy rural and working-class support to pit against “urban cappuccino-sucking tree huggers” are the common tactics of corporate anti-environmentalists.
The new spin also includes the “Ethical Oil” argument conjured up by a former tobacco industry lobbyist, which states that Alberta’s dirtiest tar sands oil is somehow more ethical and environmental than conventional oil from Saudi Arabia because of their human rights abuses. It’s like promoting child labour in Canada, due to lower standards in other nations. Meanwhile, opposition will grow against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to Burrard Inlet, which aims to expand oil tanker traffic along Canada’s most populated coastline, including by Victoria.
Ancient Forest Campaign will Target both B.C. Lib’s and NDP
The Ancient Forest Alliance’s growing strength, several large environmental groups moving to ramp-up their campaigns, and a provincial election in 2013 will drive a push for the B.C. Liberals and the NDP to commit to stronger old-growth policies. The B.C. Liberals still defend the destructive status quo, while the NDP who are likely to form the next government have made positive but vague promises with much wiggle room. Dix’s environmental platform during his NDP leadership bid committed to, “Develop a long term strategy for old growth forests in the province, including protection of specific areas that are facing immediate logging plans, such as Avatar Grove,” but fell short of calling for an end to old-growth logging in any major region.
The Fight against Fish Farms will go Viral
Viral in the sense that a salmon-killing virus, Infectious Salmon Anemia, has now been found by researchers in B.C.’s wild sockeye. It was first found in Norwegian fish farms and has wiped out salmon stocks in Europe and Chile. Investigations continue on the virus’ role in massive declines of Fraser sockeye runs. Combined with concerns about sea lice, waste, overharvesting smaller fish to feed farmed salmon, and the large-scale killing of sea lions by fish farmers, this new threat will make protests against open net-cage fish farms go viral.
Raw Logs on a Slow Boat to China will be Protested
The B.C. government has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to open up Chinese markets for B.C. wood. “Lumber, not logs” to China was the assurance of former Forests Minister Pat Bell in 2008 when questioned about the potential loss of B.C. milling jobs. However, in 2009 Bell allowed the first B.C. raw logs to be exported to China. With the flood-gates opened, raw log exports to China increased over 10-fold in 2010, to over a million cubic meters. In a nation where large-scale manufacturing capacity springs up seemingly overnight, it’s only a matter of time now before China shifts its imports of B.C. lumber to mainly raw logs to feed their own mills. Ten years from now, we’ll be able to thank the B.C. Liberals for the migration of the province’s wood manufacturing capacity to China. Protests will ramp-up in 2012.
Ken Wu is the executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance and MASS (Majority for A Sustainable Society).