Fifteen thousand scientists can’t be wrong.
But two political parties can.
A month and a day after 15,000 scientists issued a warning to humanity about the state of the world – just their second in 25 years – Premier John Horgan gave the go-ahead for the continued construction of the Site C hydro-electric dam.
Although figures vary according to who’s providing them, the dam will flood about 6,000 hectares of land, two-thirds of which is agricultural land. The reservoir will be over 80 kilometres long.
The project has been contentious, sparking both opposition and approval. Horgan, in an untenable position, said his decision was based on finances. Four billion dollars would be lost if the project is halted. So could government services and B.C.’s credit rating. Yet the project is already over-budget, up from the initial $8 billion total to 10 or 12.
Farmers, environmentalists and First Nations have been opposed, among others. The Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations are continuing their legal battle by seeking an injunction.
But back to the scientists.
These are not whining fearmongers. According to media reports, the original warning from the Union of Concerned Scientists, signed by 1,700 international scientists, was sent in 1992.
Scientists now warn that “soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”
They continue: “By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivise renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.”
They point out that although ozone depletion has declined and more energy is being generated from renewable resources, these are the exceptions in a damaging 25 years. The bad news includes: large increases in ocean ‘dead zones’; millions of acres of forest lost; a population growth of 35 per cent; and a drop in the number of birds, fish, mammals and reptiles by nearly 30 per cent.
Although people argue Site C would provide so-called clean energy for 450,000 homes, at what cost? Other, less destructive, energy sources are available.
In the face of the scientists’ report, First Nations are about to be flooded off their land – they, along with all the other species which have been part of the Peace River Valley for thousands of years. These are the people whose philosophy includes protecting the earth for the seventh generation. This, in itself, should be enough to halt Site C.