Oil Pipelines and a Climate Crisis Warning from the Haida

This is a tale of a nefarious oil pipeline settlement, a Haida warning against any oil pipeline that violates an indigenous or non-indigenous neighbour’s inherent rights and fallacy of the modern world’s urban expansion philosophy and home construction practices, with far-less direct participation in government by the citizenry, that all play into and exacerbate the earth’s continually growing climate crisis. At its core, the problem basically isn’t a climate crisis but a growing human crisis of betrayal, greed, power and money of epic proporations that has plagued the human species since its inception. A protest to do something about an out-of-control climate crisis is simply a protest against a mirrored reflection of all that the modern human world has become as a matter of evolutionary choice. To change the crisis will require a change in the basic building blocks of human beings and modern society. But will it or can it ever happen? What basic, attainable steps can immediately be taken to make it happen?

This tale of fundamental change begins with a betrayal over a legal dispute concerning the provisions of an economic development agreement contained within a signed benefits contract between the Na’kazdli Whut’en First Nation Tribal Council and TC Energy’s Coastal Gas Pipeline project, in a distant tiny northern rural British Columbia community, (“Benefits Agreement asks First Nations to discourage members from hindering B.C. Pipeline Project”, Chantelle Bellrichard, CBC news, Aug 9th, 2019). This aggreement represents a significant connection to not only the bigger world-wide picture of the existing massive climate crisis but, on a local level, underscores the way in which communities of concerned citizens, whether indigenous or non-indigenous, all over the world commonly are hood-winked, kept in the dark and cut out of the loop of key decision-making processes about the climate crisis and survival of the earth by the Big Boys everywhere who always demand total control over all the decisions that directly affect the future of whatever local human being’s way of life.

What happened to the Na’kazdli Whut’en First Nation peoples symbolizes what also once happened at a particular pivotal moment in time to the life of this writer’s own community and the politics of his local B.C. North Shore surrounds when a massive high-rise density ‘Capilano Village’ complex was also being decided upon. That plan still underway, that eventually will create an unacceptable ware-housing density of humans and gass-guzzling automobiles clogging all the surrounding highways and bridges, requiring the eventual construction of ever more highways, bridges and infrastructure beyond what the local environmental and economic conditions questionably will be able to bear or support, virtually ended a once collegial, more participatory dialogue that existed between government and concerned citizens.

What before had been a genuine democratic process of government between the citizenry and elected officials quickly turned into something more akin to a benevolent, laissez faire dictatorship of building codes, variances and design specifications decided upon from on-high amongst outside architects, construction firms and real estate moguls that totally disrespected not only the local long-time residents hopes, dreams and wishes but also played into the same climate crisis dynamics that continue to adversely affect every community in the world for the same reasons. In most related cases in the world direct community involvement and participaton essentially disappears into the obscurity of the night in the face of ruthless, powerful outside forces and the processes of high-rise development or extraction of whatever local natural resources that are creating the existing climate crisis that continues unabated. Anti-climate crisis input and solutions by the citizenry themselves seldom is ever considered.

Though the connections between the two stories of the Na’kazdli Whut’en First Nation Tribal Council, TCEnergy’s Coastal Gas Pipeline project and this writer’s Lower Capilano Community may seem at first a stretch the fundamental underlying issues nevertheless have caught the keen attention of at least a few First Nation and Canadian immigrants and their communities for a multitude of different reasons.

One of the First Nation leaders to respond to the dispute of more oil pipelines being created to expand the on-going, never-ending human and economic development in the world is Guujaaw, an Hereditary Chief Gidansta of the Haida Nation, and advisor to B.C.’s Coastal First Nations. In a National Observer article (“The Juggernaut of corporate oil must be stopped” June 18th 2019), Guujaaws objected to the concept of a proposed Aboriginal “Reconciliation Pipeline” being created as part of PM Justin Trudeau’s decision to approve the extension of the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the coastal waters of British Columbia and beyond.

In that National Observer article Guujaaw raised a key point that pertains to an ancient First Nation moral opprobrium of never harming whatever peoples downstream, regardless of race, colour or creed to be affected by whatever significant decisions are ever to be made. Guujaaw says, “A pipeline and all that comes with it crosses the “inherent limit” and does not carry any Aboriginal Rights when it disregards the same rights of whatever the neighbour downstream.”

Guujaaw’s statement brings into serious question the whole concept of what Reconciliation actually means in terms of the rights of aboriginal and indigenous peoples in the world, but also to the same responsibilities of the entire non-indigenous human race to somehow also find a meaningful reconciliation with Mother Earth herself and all who depend upon her for their daily sustenance and survival.

The simplicity and profundity of the integrity embodied within this ancient First Nation principle of never doing anything that will adversely affect the same rights of whatever neighbour downstream, also applies to this writer’s own community of neighbours who may not live downstream but live next door and down the street in the District of North Vancouver or wherever else other immigrant peoples in Canada and the world now may reside.

This simple concept becomes clearer once all the dots are connected between how global warming and climate crisis changes are directly affected, every day, at the local level, on a massive scale, by re-occuring, everyday issues, such as: home teardowns that destroy the heritage, traditions and character of established communities; or building code variances that allow for the felling of major growth trees and maximum lot utilization that lead to the wholesale elimination of all their greenery that play an integral part in cleansing the air and environment, as well as how the allowances for the contruction of below ground concrete basements and residential suites permanently upset and displace the natural water gradient of the entire surrounding community which affects not only the whole surrounding climatic patterns but the way all the plants, trees, insects and animals also draw their sustenance.

If municipalities like North Vancouver, and those throughout Canada and the world are ever to seriously consider how to address the climate crisis on a local, grass roots level, and curb the construction of more and more oil pipelines and other petroleum infrastructure that directly play into the depletion of the earth’s finite natural resources, and endless expansion of urban and rural high-rise communities, the time is long over-due to connect all the dots about what is actually going on daily, 24/7, 365, in British Columbia……Canada….& The World with regard to the endless destruction of a multitude of things. Such as when:

+ Older, established, single-family home properties, that make a smaller eco-footprint on the Earth and help keep life in a simpler, more homeostatic balanced state, are allowed to be constantly destroyed;

+ While the loss of the Earth’s resources in the construction materials that went into building the original single family homes are seldom ever recycled.

+ The Earth’s finite natural resources required to build, in their place, every larger multiple, higher density, ‘monster’ dwellings to warehouse a never-ending population explosion that only creates an ever more massive, unsustainable eco-footprint and complexity to life continues to further destroy the Earth’s limited natural resources, exponentially increases greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, and; forces the entire economy to double down on the output of its way of life just to afford it all.

+ Thus, mature growth trees & established landscapes, as well, must be clear-cut to allow for the greater development, which further eliminates the rich sources of oxygen they produce that cleanse the air of carbon dioxide, feed all living things and makes the very continuance of life itself possible. The rich sources of nutrients they provide that daily replenishes and renew all the cycles of life and the root structures that inter-twine with all life around them and retain the water that holds the moisture in the soil needed to cool and maintain the Earth’s healthy equilibrium also are eliminated. While the peace, solitude and well-being they offer to the surrounding communities of humans and non-humans alike and ancient wild habitats and food stuffs they provide for the native birds and animals, or the critically-important flyway stops they give to migratory birds, insects and butterflies, not to mention their natural beauty that intrinsically feeds the souls of all living things, continues to be eliminated.

The refusal of local city councils and governments to recognize and acknowledge the constant loss of all this natural wealth suggests that human civilization, in general, still lacks even the most basic, remote understanding of the meaning and purpose of life and how everything – global warming, climate crisis, economics, politics, finite fossil fuels, infinite sustainable energies, community activism – all are integral parts of the Earth’s spider web of life.

This is why, at every election/voting cycle, at whatever level commonly represents the extent of what passes for participatory/representational government – the candidate veting process full of so much meaningless, empty propaganda, platitudes and sound bite spins – that fewer and fewer voters even bother to ever cast a vote.

So the question remains: what exactly does it mean to squarely address the climate crisis and assume what are the chief responsibilities that every private citizen or elected politician, young or old, must do to connect all these dots to ensure that all life in the world is protected and preserved in perpetuity for our children and all their children’s children? Simply that we all must first reconsider where we come from, why and where we’re going!

Every municipality in B.C., Canada and the world immediately needs to enact more rather than less stringent bylaws and building codes: to protect the permanancy of trees and natural landscapes; the human heritage, character homes and architecturally and environmentally-sound home designs that keep with the existing historic character of the community.

Places like this writer’s home in a North Vancouver municipality can begin to make these changes by reversing the top-down decisions that abolished its local communities once individual Official Community Plans (OCP’s), in favour of what now is one single, unwieldly, inappropriate OCP meant to imposssibly serve the wide diversity of differing needs of its multitude of communities, controlled solely by elected politicians and their staffs, that once upon a time instead allowed the local citizenry to assume a more direct, active role in their lives; yet now has been intentionally removed from their hands to wither and die, replaced by too much official indifference, contempt and corruption by too many outsider officials.

Behind the scenes of this breakdown of the integrity of local community life that contributes to the climate crisis there always exist’s a dark, sinister, layer of national-international governmental power and intrigue at work. Obscure, unknown, un-elected officials are appointed by still more distant levels of unknown, un-elected officials who have been given the power to dictate to mayors and councils percentage quoto’s of how many new immigrants they each must accept, whether they and their unaware electorate like it or not. Then the whole breakdown process that contributes to the climate crisis at the local level begins anew.

This seldom is done, not in the name of alturism but, in the name of political expediency, greed, money and ruthless power as individuals and groups of non-resident Canadians from abroad are allowed to come in, with little critical scrutiny or oversight, and, with the aid of self-serving real estate and political allies, unrestricted by any operative Haida DownStream Opprobrium in place, can buy not just one home for their family but as many properties as can be acquired for no purpose other than speculative investment, ‘flip’ them for a fast profit or turn into ‘run-downs’ and ‘tear-downs’ for personal gain at the expense of the existing community.

Then a second group of Canadians or non-Canadians from outside are allowed to come into the community and do the actual tear-down of the existing dwellings, clear-cut the mature trees and erect in their place, on totally-denuded barren lots, massive, mostly unimaginatively-designed, often cheaply and poorly-built, multiple dwellings, with ever-larger eco-footprints than the dwellings torn down, once again with little or no responsibility to care for the ‘downstream’ considerations of the surrounding neighbours of the community.

Next, a third outside group of Canadians or non-Canadians, flush with offshore financial funds, are allowed to then expend huge amounts of capital that the local populace can’t remotely compete with, and purchase these ever more costly, newly-built monster dwellings for ever-greater amounts of monies that, in turn, not only drive up the prices of homes beyond the means of most average Canadians, but also goad more Canadians to cash in, sell their homes, and move away to distant places where homes are cheaper, until the same process occurs.

In the end, nothing remotely like the Haida Opprobrium is ever observed and whatever heritage, cultural permanency and Ethos of an entire civilization is allowed to go by the boards!

The present and future direction promoted by this kind of human civilization on the North Shore, Canada and everywhere else in the world is a Scenario of Sheer Madness! It’s purely a limitless economic growth feeding frenzy allowed to forever pick at a community’s bones by those who act like hungry Viking invader-wolves of olde, with little appreciation for what these bones represent to the former way of life of the local human and non-human residents.

No collectively-agreed upon wise elder vision guides what life will look like in the present or future. Despite the ensuing cultural, economic, political upheaval, nothing is sacred save for money. Everything is in free fall! Everything becomes expendable: tear-downs; the destruction of whatever community’s natural heritage and character; the decay of the surrounding natural world’s fragile environment; followed by endless urban expansion, unwarranted density, exponential population growth; the on-going destruction and loss of the Earth’s finite resources, and; subsequent unabated increases in the levels of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, carbon emissions continue unchecked; while unacceptable levels of global warming and climate crisis further spiral out-of-control; as the contempt shown by government officials towards anyone who attempts to do anything to stop it becomes ever meaner and tougher.

This portrayal of the real face of the current state of the world-at-large depicts a civilization not steadily progressing towards some loftier state of being but one that continues to rapidly regress towards something far more primitive, mean-spirited and less desireable?

These are the bones of the ‘Elephants in the Room’ of the world’s climate crisis! Whether one is talking about the Na’kazdli Whut’en First Nation Tribal Council & TC Energy’s Coastal Gas Pipeline project consummated in northern British Columbia without the awareness and participation of its people, or the Capilano Village Plan on Southern B.C.’s North Shores, it makes little sense to talk of lofty proposals on a national or international level to address the climate crisis unless and until it concretely starts at the grass roots community level wherever the citizenry similarly is being ignored, rent powerless or made the brunt of political payback for all their truthfulness.