Premier John Horgan meets with Interfor employees at the company’s Castlegar sawmill, March 23, 2019. (John Boivin/Castlegar News)

B.C. VIEWS: Urban environmental ‘emergency’ routine wearing thin

Forests, killer whales stubbornly defy predictions they are dying

“Everybody wants to save the Earth. Nobody wants to help Mum do the dishes.” That’s how U.S. humourist P.J. O’Rourke summed up the emerging green politics in his 1994 book, All the Trouble in the World.

That statement rings truer today than it did 25 years ago, as urban feel-good gestures and emotion-driven protests replace old-fashioned facts and hard work to pick up litter, plant trees or take plastic packaging back to the store that sold the items.

It has been another tough week for the B.C. forest industry, as it deals with the long-expected decline in Interior log supply after widespread mountain pine beetle impact, continued punitive tariffs orchestrated by U.S. competitors, and the NDP government’s steeply increased stumpage on coastal B.C. logs. A wave of layoffs and lumber mill shutdowns is shaking rural communities.

So what was all over our urban media? Another tired, orchestrated fundraising stunt staged by Sierra Club B.C. at 17 strategically chosen MLA offices around the province. TV covered the handiest one, in front of NDP Environment Minister George Heyman’s office in B.C.’s biggest and oldest permanent clearcut, a place called Vancouver.

There, a terrified young woman who appeared to be of high school age urgently warned TV cameras that old-growth logging has to stop because of the “climate emergency.” Perhaps her education hadn’t got to the question of what sequesters more carbon dioxide: milling a mature, decadent tree into door frames and planting two new trees, or leaving the old tree to fall and rot?

I’ve written before about the vast protected areas in B.C., and the tactics of professional protesters to set up at the edge of each one and declare it’s not enough. I’ve reported from an illegal logging conference in Beijing, where issues like high-grading and then burning tropical rainforests to clear land for “conflict palm oil” plantations are finally being tackled.

When it’s not fighting the “tar sands,” Rainforest Action Network is fighting the good fight in places like Indonesia. There are real environmentalists out there, as there are in B.C., quietly cleaning up salmon creeks and dealing with the decades of forest fire suppression that have left our province so vulnerable to devastating wildfires.

NDP Forests Minister Doug Donaldson had to respond to the latest Sierra Club stunt, because that’s all the media want to talk about. He referred to the closure of the Vavenby sawmill near Clearwater in the B.C. Interior, the latest in a series of temporary and permanent shutdowns that have put hundreds of people out of work.

Doing Sierra Club’s bidding would force more people out of work, particularly on Vancouver Island, Donaldson said.

The Sierra Club organizer in Campbell River put a different spin on her anti-logging message. B.C. Timber Sales, a provincial agency, auctioned cutting rights for $13.2 million to a company owned by Langley-based San Group, which is also investing in mills in Port Alberni and the Kootenays.

The Sierra spokesperson recycled claims that silt runoff from this North Island cutblock threatens an orca rubbing beach and the kayak business that depends on it.

This urban legend has been studied repeatedly by provincial biologists since the 1990s, when Sierra and its ilk created the logging protest industry in B.C. They found that orcas have moved to different beaches due to natural erosion in the area, which gets its share of winter storms.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three Okanagan College Mechanical Engineering students manufactured 3D printed Trick-or-Treat Bowls to aid in a physically-distanced Halloween experience amid COVID-19. (3D Okanagan Facebook)
Trick-or-treating made safer thanks to Okanagan College students’ project

3D-printed Trick-or-Treat Bowls available for sale ahead of Halloween

RCMP are investigating a trailer fire off Firwood Road on the Westside, discovered Oct. 27. (Google maps image)
RCMP investigate Westside trailer fire

Burned trailer discovered by RCMP Oct. 27 near Fintry

A man was caught on surveillance taking a large outdoor heater from the patio at Intermezzo early morning Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Contributed)
WATCH: Heater theft leaves Vernon business cold

Patio heater stolen from Intermezzo, found trashed

The Kalamalka Lake water source was turned off due increased algae in Kalamalka Lake Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Stock photo)
Vernon water source shut off due to algae increase

Regional district says the switch from Kal Lake to Duteau Creek water is out of abundance of caution

SilverStar Mountain Resort is nominated as one of 20 of North America’s most favourite ski resorts in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice 2020. Winners will be announced Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (SilverStar Mountain Resort - Facebook)
SilverStar tapped as one of North America’s favourites by USA Today

‘We are so humbled to be nominated,’ says Vernon resort’s communications manager

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Homes in Summerland have been among the households in Canada to participate in radon testing. (TakeActiononRadon.ca)
Testing finds 38 per cent of Summerland homes have unsafe radon levels

Okanagan community one of 15 involved in national testing program

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna has Canada’s fastest-growing crime rate, most opioid offences per-capita

Greater Kelowna’s violent crime rate skyrocketed nearly 60 per cent

Vince Schnabl looks at the view this October from the Gorge, west of Revelstoke. (Photo by Jon Wichett)
There’s 3 times more snow near Revelstoke than usual

According to 54 years of data from Parks Canada for Glacier National Park

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

Myra Canyon SCARE park is located in Kelowna, British Columbia. (Photo - Twila Amato)
VIDEO: Kelowna scare park cranks up the horror

Open Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Bear sightings have been reported in a residential area in Summerland in late October. The Conservation Officer Service is urging people to take measures so bears are not drawn to the area (Black Press file photo)
Bear sightings reported from Summerland neighbourhood

Conservation Officer Service urges people not to leave garbage outside

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read