On April 11, CBC Radio's On the Coast broadcast an interview with two of the founders of Save Old Growth, Zain Haq and Brent Eichler.
They both came across as intelligent, thoughtful members of society who care deeply about the potential annihilation of the human species as a result of rising greenhouse-gas emissions.
Eichler cares so much, in fact, that he's just entered the fourth week of a hunger strike. He's refusing solid food to try to get a public meeting with the minister responsible for B.C.'s forests, Katrine Conroy.
"What really spurs me on is I read the science and I know how desperate things are," Eichler told the show's host, Gloria Macarenko.
Eichler also revealed in the interview that his hometown is Merritt, which experienced a catastrophic flood in November as a result of an atmospheric river swooping down over B.C.
This extreme weather event was symptomatic of the loss of climate stability as a result of global heating, which has disrupted hydrologic cycles.
“Hydrologic stationarity is the relative stability of the hydrologic system that we’ve relied on for the stability upon which we built our civilization,” Robert Sandford, a senior policy adviser for the Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University, told the Straight last year. “And we’ve lost hydrologic stationarity.”
It's just one of a multitude of issues resulting from the disruption of the earth system brought on by the burning of fossil fuels. Under the "Hothouse Earth" pathway, identified in a 2018 scientific paper, irreversible feedback loops will kick in at different temperature increases, driving even higher average global temperatures.
Save Old Growth wants the province to retain the remaining 2.7 percent of B.C.'s original ancient forests to help address the climate and biodiversity crises.
"Old growth forests act as an essential carbon sink, they hold the soil and reduce the risk and severity of floods and landslides, they act as a natural barrier to wildfires, they are home to many endangered species, and they are culturally and spiritually significant ancestors of these lands," it stated.
But the John Horgan government has refused to meet with Eichler, 57, and another Save Old Growth activist, 69-year-old Howard Breen, who has entered the third week of his hunger strike.
“Brent is showing incredible stamina, but is feeling the effects of starvation," SFU professor emeritus and activist Tim Takaro said in a news release today. "He continues to lose weight—nearly 20 pounds—and muscle mass. He is weak and having difficulty staying warm. He is risking damage to vital organs and dangerous heart rhythms that can be fatal.”
Breen had this to say: “When we haven’t eaten anything solid in weeks, and our vision is blurred, our heart rates are elevated, our blood-glucose levels becoming potentially deadly, and we can barely sit up, much less stand, and should we stop drinking and dehydrated and slipping in and out of consciousness, will the minister finally stop ghosting us? Democracy must be something more than two logging company lobbyists and a minister deciding on what forests are protected and what are clearcut and shipped to a foreign port.”
The Horgan government's intransigence with these two activists could come back to haunt the B.C. NDP, particularly if either Eichler or Breen dies in a fight for a cause that most British Columbians support.
They will then become international martyrs, which will likely inspire more acts of peaceful civil disobedience in the future designed to shame the government into action. And if either dies on Earth Day next Friday (April 22), it will only magnify the amount of international attention on B.C.'s willingness to log ancient forests in the midst of a climate breakdown.
Eichler insisted to Macarenko that he and others with Save Old Growth are not "protesters".
"We're fighting for the survival of humanity," he said.