Time to recognize own
letter to the editor published 11/23/01
Re: Lloyd Axworthy's article Time to
reduce climate change risks (Nov. 17). It is said that
to a man with a hammer all problems look like nails.
On Saturday, former federal cabinet minister Axworthy
asked federal, provincial and territorial energy and
environment ministers to "demonstrate that Canadians
are able to take advantage of the opportunities and
reduce the risks associated with climate change."
Mr. Axworthy's aims are laudable, but
he needs to adjust his plans to the reality of climate
change, especially that caused by hydroelectric projects
such as those operated by
Over the past 30 years, Manitoba has
destroyed thousands of square kilometres of boreal forest.
Every square metre lost to dams, reservoirs and the
erosion of waterways eliminates sequestration of carbon.
While the phrase sequestration of carbon is hardly in
everyday use, its meaning is straightforward. Trees
reduce (or sequester) green house gases by capturing
them in the appropriate place -- as part of a vibrant
Not only do Hydro projects kill the
natural eliminators of greenhouse gases, they also directly
add to the emissions of these gases. As the authoritative
World Commission on Dams states: "The emission
of greenhouse gases (GHG) from reservoirs due to rotting
vegetation and carbon inflows from the catchment is
a recently identified ecosystem impact (on climate)
of storage dams. A first estimate suggests that the
gross emissions from reservoirs may account for between
one per cent and 28 per cent of the global warming potential
of GHG emissions."
While every document prepared in Manitoba
decries the use of fossil fuels in the U.S., almost
no attention is directed towards Manitoba's own lamentable
environmental record. While emissions from U.S. coal
and natural gas units are being reduced by billions
of dollars in environmental investments, Manitoba Hydro
has done virtually nothing to repair the damage it caused
to the Nelson and Churchill River systems. While environmental
rules are being strengthened throughout North America,
the Manitoba government routinely releases Manitoba
Hydro from living up to the conditions of existing environmental
permits, and fails to direct Manitoba Hydro to clean
up the damage it has already caused.
It is time that we began to recognize
our own sins and started to make amends in our own backyard.
Simply criticizing others isn't remotely sufficient
to address the reality of climate change problems.
WILLIAM OSBORNE Vice-Chief, Pimicikamak
Cree Nation Cross Lake
This material is distributed by Janet
Anderson (USDOJ FARA #
5449) on behalf of Pimicikamak Cree
Nation. Additional information is available at the
Department of Justice,
Janet Anderson 651-646-9323