Super Natural B.C. can only stay that way with a strong environmental movement

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      Today in my email inbox, I received a fundraising pitch from the Sierra Club of British Columbia.

      To grab my attention, it pointed out that the clock is ticking on the Site C dam because construction is proceeding. This is happening even though the (likely) incoming NDP minority government has promised to refer the $8.8-billion megaproject to the B.C. Utilities Commission.

      The fundraising message highlighted the Sierra Club of B.C.'s efforts to protect Vancouver Island rain forests. It also mentioned a campaigner's participation in the Walk 4 the Salish Sea event and a link to a video about June 8 being World Oceans Day.

      The video includes spectacular footage of marine life and the bears that depend on it for their survival.

      The Sierra Club of B.C. wants to make people think about the potential effects of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project on the seas around us.

      As I watched this magnificently shot and edited video, I was left with a question on my mind. 

      What would the election of a progressive and environmentally sensitive government have on groups like the Sierra Club of B.C.? It relies heavily on public donations to focus attention on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, climate change, and other issues that can affect biodiversity.

      Think about it.

      There's no longer the Stephen Harper bogeyman around to get progressives cranked up over the oilsands. He's been replaced by the more benign-appearing Justin Trudeau.

      The Tories have been thrown out of power in Alberta, replaced by the carbon-tax-supporting NDP premier, Rachel Notley.

      And here in B.C., our version of Harper Lite, Christy Clark, will likely soon be on the opposition side of the legislature. She'll be replaced by John Horgan. He has to get along with three Green MLAs with sufficient clout to force him to keep his promises.

      Most mayors across the Lower Mainland also talk a good game on protecting the planet.

      Vancouver dentist Dr. George Lo captured this image of eagles battling for a prime fishing location.
      Dr. George Lo

      The environmental challenges remain as compelling as ever. This is apparent in the Trudeau government's support for pipelines, its insistence on retaining Harper's greenhouse-gas emission targets, and Notley's determination to get the Kinder Morgan project completed.

      Meanwhile, global greenhouse gas emissions are not only putting marine species at risk through the acidification of the oceans. They will also put more human beings in the firing line. Climate change is one of the factors behind massive migration from Africa to Europe. 

      Climate change has also been linked to the rise of the drug war in Mexico, the intensity of the civil war in Syria, and the decision by some Afghan farmers to grow poppies instead of wheat. That's because poppies require far less water, resulting in more heroin flooding into the West.

      But B.C. environmental groups face the prospect of some donors becoming complacent if they think the NDP-Green alliance is going to take care of the biggest issues.

      The Sierra Club of British Columbia Foundation raised just over $1 million in 2015, which is the last year for which figures are available. Of that, $265,358 came from outside Canada. Another $109,064 came from provincial or territorial governments, and $24,482 originated from the federal government.

      One of the giants, the David Suzuki Foundation, generated over $11.6 million, according to its last annual filing posted on the Canada Revenue Agency website. Nearly $1.4 million came from sources outside of Canada.

      Ecojustice Society of Canada's revenues were $5.2 million in its last annual filing. Of that, $65,519 came from outside of Canada.

      The Western Canada Wilderness Committee raised just over $1.9 million in 2016, all of which was generated within Canada.

      The Alberta-based Pembina Foundation for Environmental Research and Education, which funds activities in B.C., raised just over $1.6 million. None of it came from governments and only $30,680 originated from outside Canada.

      The Raincoast Conservation Foundation also raised just over $1.6 million in 2015, of which $106,658 came from outside of Canada. It collected $108,500 from the federal government.

      The Georgia Strait Alliance generated $613,853, including $147,896 from outside of Canada.

      This is chump change compared to the amount of money at the disposal of Kinder Morgan and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

      NDP MP Fin Donnelly (second from right), a founder of the Rivershed Society of B.C., enjoys paddling with young people eager to learn about the Fraser River ecosystem.

      These green groups, and others such as Greenpeace and Stand and the Dogwood Initiative, employ a fair number of intelligent and highly skilled environmental watchdogs. They've played a major role in elevating British Columbians' literacy about the challenges we face as a species.

      They've often worked closely with indigenous peoples and helped showcase indigenous cultures at their public events. In addition, these groups have helped fund legal challenges that put governments and the humanity-threatening fossil-fuel industry on the defensive.

      The green and indigenous organizations have had some enormous successes. They include setting aside much of the Great Bear Rainforest. They stopped Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, which posed such a major threat to marine life along the central and north coast of B.C.

      Their efforts have also played a role in the remarkable return of marine mammals to the west coast. Thirty years ago, who would have thought we would see whales in Burrard Inlet, large numbers of Pacific white-sided dolphins in Howe Sound, or sea otters around the Gulf Islands?

      You can thank the greenies and the aboriginal peoples for that.

      Meanwhile, the Land Conservancy of B.C. has done a terrific job working with governments and businesses to set aside land-based natural habitat for the benefit of future generations. The Rivershed Society of B.C. is educating hordes of young people about the value of protecting habitat along the province's mightiest river.

      But there's a risk that U.S.-based foundations might look north and conclude that because the progressives won the B.C. election, their funds should be transferred to other jurisdictions. There is no shortage of environmental causes needing advocacy around the world.

      This increases the onus on British Columbians to support those who've worked so hard to preserve our natural environment.

      Sea otters are not an uncommon sight on the west coast of North America.
      Mike Baird

      There's no denying that the efforts of environmental organizations and indigenous peoples helped educate the public to the point where 60 percent of voters were ready to throw the B.C. Liberals out of office. Because of the work of these groups, there will likely soon be a ban on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

      That's something the vast majority of British Columbians support and should celebrate.

      However, B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver and NDP Leader John Horgan are going to face tremendous pressure to buckle to the demands of the central Canadian media and the federal government when it comes to allowing pipelines, LNG projects, and thermal-coal exports.

      The feds and the talking heads in Toronto are not going to necessarily make the connections between the food chain in the ocean, its impact on bears, and the value of salmon carcasses being left in the forests. The reality is that these carcasses provide nutrients for the soil and help land-based animals and birds thrive.

      The Globe and Mail and National Post editorial writers and the political panelists who pontificate with Peter Mansbridge aren't likely to spend a whole lot of time thinking, talking, or writing about ocean acidification. They're too freaked out over the prospect of someone like the NDP's George Heyman becoming B.C.'s environment minister.

      The environmental organizations help counter those voices.

      They're going to need your help in the weeks and months and years to come. Given the state of the planet, this is no time for complacency.

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