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Great Lakes Article:

Time to recognize own environmental sins

 Winnipeg Free Press

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

Manitoba Hydro.


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 growing forest.


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,

Washington, D.C.


Janet Anderson 651-646-9323


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