B.C. in Beijing: big bucks or a better environment

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Last week, according to the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, an assembly of B.C.'s business leaders gathered in Whistler voted unanimously to "encourage the provincial government to aggressively pursue trade opportunities with Asia Pacific countries, especially China and India." Meanwhile the premier was in Asia promoting B.C. business and opening a B.C. Pavilion in Beijing. Also last week the B.C. government gave the Harmony Foundation $200,000 for "the development of a leadership training program for sustainable community development in China."

On the home front B.C.'s Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld announced that "the May 21, 2008 sale of oil and gas rights sets new records with $441 million in bonus bids and higher average per-hectare prices than any previous sale." He went on to say that the province was well on its way to breaking last year's record of $1.2 billion in sales. A few days later on May 26 he announced that "the Province is advancing carbon capture and storage (CCS) research and development by contributing $3.4 million to a feasibility project in northeast B.C. that will cost an estimated $12.1 million."

Everyday now there are new stories in the media on global warming, escalating food prices, food shortages and the decline in the supply of oil and its rising costs. In a story released by Reuters on May 22 it was reported that scientists are saying that "carbon dioxide spewed by human activities has made ocean water so acidic that it is eating away at the shells and skeletons of starfish, coral, clams and other sea creatures...." The Seattle Times ran a story the next day on the same issue, saying that local scientists studying the coast from Vancouver Island to the tip of Baja have found "swaths of acidified seawater" which they thought would not appear until the end of the century. They believe that it may already be adversely impacting marine life along the continental shelf.

In a story released by Reuters on May 25 a growing concern over the fate of krill was reported. Tiny krill are one of the building blocks of the marine food chain which in the past were not sought after aggressively by humans, but declining fish stocks and growing food shortages may change that, particularly in light of new developments in technology that make harvesting and processing krill much more efficient.

So, what do acid oceans, pending doom for krill, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, and the B.C. government have in common? The outdated world view that is driving the actions of the government and the B.C. Chamber. They are still using the same modus operandi that gave us global warming, food shortages, oceans of acid and now threatens to wipe out krill.

The world is over developed and consuming more resources than it can replenish. More development may be good in the short term for those who get a piece of the action, but in the long term it is killing us all. Rather than spend resources encouraging trade in a world where transportation costs are going to skyrocket, why aren't we concentrating on reducing environmental impact by improving our self-sufficiency?

Why, in a world with too much fuel being burned, are we promoting oil and gas extraction, then wasting money on carbon capture schemes to deal with the carbon we generate? And, why are we investing in China when the result is lost jobs here and a higher environmental cost for goods?

The short answer is that although self-sufficiency may give us a better environment and more rational lifestyle, it does not provide the same opportunities for exploitation so that investors can make big profits. And, those making the profits control the system.

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