Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.
Some screen grabs from an otherwise fluffy video around Seu Jorge & Almaz and somehow suposedly relating to Oxum. I found it on Kwesi Abbensett's blog and for a minute I hoped it might be his photography; but it didn't seem like his standard to be hangin' out in an affluent Rio neighbourhood.
Oxum embodies femininity (both beauty & vanity), fertility, fecundity, rivers, waterfalls; gold and the connection between money & love, hence she is the patron goddess of prostitutes. She carries a hand-mirror and a sort of whisk, or maybe it is a whip - I'll have to check that out - a fan they say? or a sword? The first one I saw didn't look like a fan or sword to me though (?).
The model is Jodie Smith. This blue video, Gestuelle or 'Body Language' as I make it out (unless it is also a slang for 'vampire'), is a bit disturbing; but her commentary on it is less so ... 'vagina naked' as she matter-of-factly says. Charming (she refers to herself as 'Miss Jodie') and delightful, and she keeps a blog too.
Leonard Cohen, As irmas da graça (mais ou menos)
|As irmas da graça|
Elas não partiram nem sumiram.
Elas estavam esperando por mim
Quando pensei que não podia andar mais.
E elas me trouxeram conforto
E mais tarde me trouxeram esta canção.
Eu desejo que você as encontre
Você que estavam viajando há tanto tempo.
Sim você que deve deixar tudo
Que não pode controlar.
Isso começa com sua familia
Mas logo chega até sua alma.
Então, eu estive onde você está parado
Eu acho que posso ver como você estancou:
Quando você não se sente santo
Sua solidão fala que você pecou.
Elas deitaram ao meu lado
Eu me confecei com elas.
E elas tocaram meus olhos
E eu toquei o orvalho dos suas bainhas.
Se sua vida é uma folha
Que as estações rejetam e condenam
Elas vão prendê-lo com amor
Que é gracioso e verde como um caule.
Quando eu saí elas dormiam
Eu desejo que você as encontre logo.
Não acenda as luzes
Você pode ler o endereço delas na lua.
E você não me fará ciúme
Se eu ouvir que elas adoçaram sua noite:
Nós não éramos namorados assim
E ainda que assim fosse estaria certo.
Nós não éramos namorados assim
E ainda que assim fosse estaria certo.
|Oh the sisters of mercy,|
They are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me
When I thought I just cannot go on.
And they brought me their comfort
And later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them,
You who've been travelling so long.
Yes you who must leave everything
You cannot control.
It begins with your family,
Soon it comes round to your soul.
But I've been where you're hanging,
I think I can see how you're pinned:
When you're not feeling holy,
Your loneliness tells you you've sinned.
They lay down beside me,
I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes
And I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf
The seasons tear off and condemn;
They will bind you with love
That is graceful and green as a stem.
When I left they were sleeping,
I hope you run into them soon.
Don't turn on the lights,
You can read their address by the moon.
And you won't make me jealous
If I hear that they sweetened your night:
We weren't lovers like that
And besides it would still be all right,
We weren't lovers like that
And besides it would still be all right.
There is a small hole in this song of Cohen's which you can trip into if you are not careful. Be sure to study the phrase 'and besides' with attention.
Always the hand-mirror; sometimes a fan, sometimes a sword, sometimes nothing; oh well - obviously it is the mirror that is important. The Orixa in Carybé's 'Gradil Solar do Unhão' in Salvador carries a star and so is properly Iemanjá - I just wanted to make the mermaid connection. The pendant is by Flávia Ferrari.
Who could resist Gable's so eloquent cartoon? Or Carmen Electra opening a Playboy Club right next-door to the UNFCCC? Or is it the UNFCUK UNFUCT UNFCOF? I can't remember? I presume these are the left-lib pinko creeps Don Cherry was ranting about this week? The ones on the Gravy Train? Is that it Don?
Once upon a time I had one of those Guatemalan shirts. Came to me from a couple'a hippies I met at a Renaissance Faire who spent their winters down there buying and their summers up in El Norte going around selling. Charter members of the Rainbow Gathering too and all. It was a good life I guess - I wonder where they are now?
Most of what you see coming out of COP16/Cancun is associated with one NGO or another (properly ignoring the so-called conference itself): Greenpeace, WWF, Via Campesino ... whatever ... The photo of Isabel in her lovely blouse was the only one I saw with no affiliation - and that was the attraction. It was probably just a typo, an oversight - no one has space to waste on a news site with pictures of ... individuals.
Can we start a website for Non-Aligned Witness? Maybe we can make it into an NGO? Would that work? 'NAW' has a nice ring to it. Then we can get official wrist-bands too do you think? A-and government grants and donations? Buy a sailboat and lots of semi-automatic handguns and have some fun going around for a few years before the shit hits the fan?
Every photograph with a wrist in it also has a wrist-band in it - even our pouty underwater Greenpeace-ette with the lip-ring. It's not about climate at all - it must be about security.
Here, let's stop thinking about Cancun and the milquetoast diplomat maggots for a minute, and have a laugh at least with Bill Maher as he lets it go on climate change deniers, asking What the fuck is WRONG with you people!?
That's Bill with Karrine Steffans & Halle Berry. He looks happy. No surprise there - I would be happy too in that position, (Karrine has a certain reputation, as does Halle for that matter). Stephen Schneider with Terry Root seems happy too - look at the picture - his hair is standing right up on end!
Here's Bill & Stephen talking about hurricane Katrina - and making sense. One more, Bill on Colony Collapse Disorder ...
"It's Nature's way of saying - Can you hear me now?"
If you watch Don Cherry's rant critically, it is revealing - and not so very incendiary as the media have mostly made it out to be. Hurt feelings is what I see, and the angry flip-side. It looks like a test to me - if you rise to this bait and wring your hands & whinge then you have not got your eye on the ball and we know you.
Dog metaphors abound when referring to Don Cherry & John Baird: pit-bull, junk-yard dog, and so on. I often go to Day Life looking for images to grab - interesting that John Baird was in Cancun for several days before a single niggardly pic of him showed up there. Not such a big dog after all then? Who cares? We already know he has nothing useful to say.
Jeering Jackanapes & Fascist Muscle & Tyrants (petty & otherwise):
Don mentions Julian Fantino as well: "What you see is what you get." Very aptly put. You could ask the citizens in Caledonia what they saw of him when he was Commissioner of the OPP. I guess it would be bigotry to mention other Italian/Canadian cops would it? Giuliano Zaccardelli? Our Julian Fantino was apparently born as Giuliano too.
Happily there is the odd nutbar out there in the night murmuring (screaming, slavering) about the rise of capital-letter 'F' Fascism in k-k-Canada. Not so crazy at all in my book to be joining up the dots: Harper's so-called 'law and order' package, Robert Dziekanski's killers still in limbo, the brutal G20 police action in Toronto, Stacy Bond in Ottawa, Harper's subsequent successful backing of Julian Fantino, rumours of Fantino as the next Minister of Public Safety ... "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."
There is an inevitability to police brutality once you let it out of the bag. It becomes a vicious self-reinforcing cycle: rogue police are not brought to justice, the public loses confidence, the police are more-and-more immune & fearful & isolated.
A key player, essential even, is the tractable and obedient bureaucrat: people like Ian Scott, Director of the Special Investigations Unit; Guy Saint-Jacques, Deputy Head of Mission at the Canadian Embassy in Washington and Canada's Lead Negotiator at COP16 in Cancun; and of course their numerous minions & underlings, all hoping to say and do what they are told for a cottage in Muskoka overlooking the lake at the end of the day, or ... at least a quick blow-job in Cancun ... or a plum diplomatic post, say, Ambassador to Ireland for our faithful servant Loyola Hearn, or or ... a Senate appointment AND a cottage in Muskoka AND a couple'a Thai or Brasilian nubiles to play house with.
Isn't it strange that when the public outcry does not abate, when the Chief of Police is contradicted by very credible citizens who are ready to go to the wall and is forced to apologize; then suddenly-and-all-at-once the Toronto Police Service (TPS) can identify 14 of the thugs who beat up Adam Nobody? Explaining all the while that it was impossible to determine these names previously; 'new evidence' y'unnerstan.
Is it strange that Julian Assange challenges global diplomatic hypocrisy and is then charged with rape, has his service providers drop him, has his on-line cash inputs cut off, has his bank account summarily closed, can't get bail in an English court for what looks more-and-more like a trumped-up rape charge in Sweden?
Who are these women? If it is true that he was only there for a few days, and managed some kind of intimacy with both of them, then is it not possible that this was a transaction gone awry? Or a honey trap? Or one kink too many? Is it really rape if you just don't want to wear a condom? The language I see is so ambiguous. Was it two on one? Was it Everyman's most poignant fantasy? Is that it? Was envy the icing on the cake for all those hyper-repressed anal-retentive Republicans?
The accusers are Anna Ardin & Sofia Wilén; and their lawyer, Claes Bergstrom. The first prosecutor, Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand, says arrest him; the second, Eva Finné, says no; the third, who is also the Director, Marianne Ny, says arrest him again; and the spokeswoman, Karin Rosander, says what she's told to say.
And yeah, the truth might come out in a trial; but if I were Assange I would be very worried about being in any jail anywhere - I would be afraid for my life - and that is exactly where he is at the moment. On the other hand I don't think even the Americans are stupid enough to outright kill him. They would be wise to have him kept out of the general prison population though - accidents do happen.
And isn't it strange that when Anonymous hackers begin to avenge the treatment of Julian Assange, going after big financial institutions, at least one of them is arrested the very next day? They never could identify who stole the CRU emails for some reason though. Isn't that strange too?
Is it strange that we have not heard one peep out of Richard Peck the 'Special Prosecutor' in BC charged with determining whether or not to finally charge the four RCMP thugs who killed Richard Dziekanski?
Strange world is it? Do you think it is a strange world gentle reader?
So we should be surprised that the fat freeloader maggots in the UNFCCC have collected their fat salaries for 20 years and their 'Double Down' double-fat perks and have nothing whatsoever to show for it? And if you don't like the word 'whatsoever' in that sentence then tell me how many tons of CO2 emissions were avoided with the Kyoto treaty? Consider the enormous haemorrhage of cash and air travel and buildings these people and their fellow-travellers represent. T-tell me how many tons of CO2 emissions they contributed to the problem? (And that is not even mentioning the total misdirection of energies - the double jeopardy of going at it completely wrong-headed.) Does it balance?
I don't know the CO2 numbers, but I am now sure that we would be better off without the UN & UNFCCC; and focussing instead on the odd bright spot of possibility that does show up on the scene from time-to-time: our Arnie in California, rumours of carbon tax in Quebec & BC, pinko left-wing Councillors in Toronto ... right down to the clear necessity to stop using flush toilets and begin composting & associated public gardens in city parks (!)
These days everybody is going around this town saying "Merry Christmas," - even the TTC streetcar drivers! - and sure, I am getting into the spirit too: eggnog, Messiah, wrapping up presents for the grandchildren ... but I choke on 'Merry Christmas'. All I can get out is, TO ALL A BAH HUMBUG! and sometimes, quoting young Simon from many years ago, "FUCK YOU VERY MUCH!"
What it is is Rule #1 gone berserker. Well, Rule #1 be damned! And the corollary, 'Don't pull the tiger by his tail,' be damned as well. The best men I have known in my life have not operated out of this selfish bullshit justification. I do not operate out of it neither.
Sometimes yeah, sure. Did I say I was a saint? But not as a precept, not as a principle, secret or otherwise, not even as a (nudge nudge wink wink) rule-of-thumb!
What about you gen'l reed'r? (With a slight slur y'unnerstan' - there is eggnog involved.)
How can Maritimers be so stupid? It's like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. They just don't learn. So here's to honour Barb Sweet, humble despatch writer at The Telegram in St. John's, who gets it right, twice: Past mistakes, brighter future?, and From pristine to polluted.
And here's our Gwynne Dyer (well before the end of the silly fiasco) on Cancun: Climate clock keeps ticking away. He's too soft on them by half. He says, "People in the rich countries don’t even understand that history, so they are still a long way from accepting that deal. It won’t happen at Cancun, and it may be years before it does. Maybe too many years.
Too many years indeed. The Globe and Mail (and such-like prepaid nincompoops) are running headlines like, "Global accord on climate change hailed as breakthrough," and calling it "a major step forward." Nonsense! Poppycock! Balderdash! FUCKING BULLSHIT! ... Oh well. ... The world seems to run on lies, dissembling, pretence, pretend pretentiousness, whatever.
Definitely need another laugh this week; here's something I found: A Public Service Announcement not approved by AJWS from AJWS - American Jewish World Service, with the word 'American' in the name and still with a recommendation from this blog.
Ah, here we go, some reports directly from Cancun by Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu (the link is to the last report, there are several earlier ones, I have to trust that you can navigate through the mess if you want to - the nerds would have you believe that blogging is about communication which is nonsense since vanishingly little communication takes place, whatever ...). She does say at one point, "A whole lot of nothing is happening in Cancun," - got that right. A-and then the photograph with Marina Silva (left to right: Ronan Dantec, Marina, Cathy Oke, Adriana, and Elizabeth May) ... always good to see Marina. Elizabeth May needs to get her teeth done, oh well.
Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu is the Green Party of k-k-Canada's 'Shadow Cabinet Critic on Climate Change' - she should know her stuff, indeed, I happen to know that she does know her stuff. Nonetheless her (I assume final) post from Cancun indulges saccharine bromides that might make even the prepaid pundits at the Globe & NYT wince: "Something truly magical is happening in Cancun. ... it give [sic] me profound hope." I guess you have to say things like that if you have young children. Is that it? But ...
1. Past mistakes, brighter future?, Barb Sweet, November 27th 2010.
2. From pristine to polluted, Barb Sweet, November 29th 2010.
3. Climate clock keeps ticking away, Gwynne Dyer, December 6 2010.
Past mistakes, brighter future?, Barb Sweet, November 27th 2010.
A new wave of prosperity is welcome in Long Harbour, but some fear it comes at too great a price
In nearly every second driveway, there’s a new pickup truck. Dump trucks and security vehicles rumble along Long Harbour Road as the community trundles towards new prosperity.
The scars of old prosperity remain — the most prominent being the five-million-tonne slag pile that runs along one side of the harbour, the remains of the old ERCO phosphorus plant that some believe left a bigger legacy than lost jobs.
On a ride through town, fisherman Andy Murphy gives a cancer tour, pointing out homes where, he says, residents have died from or survived the dreaded disease. He figures there’s 20 people in the town currently grappling with it, a count he believes is far too high in a place with fewer than 300 people.
Many of the homes he points out are across the harbour from the slag pile.
The slag pile has nothing to do with nickel mining company Vale, other than it had to suspend a contract to beautify the site when workers were sickened after uncovering contaminants.
But Murphy, who worked at ERCO for 14 years, is worried what the town might be facing once Vale’s nickel processing plant swings into operation in 2013, handling ore from the Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador.
Murphy has been fighting the use of Sandy Pond — a pristine lake high in the hills beyond the slag pile — as a dumpsite for mine tailings.
In his wallet, the passionate trouter carries an apology letter from Environment Minister Charlene Johnson sent to him after Vale security kicked him off another pond that is not, in fact, part of Vale’s property.
Private property signs and security gates protect the former Crown land that is now Vale property. As The Telegram took photographs of the community on a November day, a security officer pulled up on the public Long Harbour Road and demanded to know what was being photographed and why. Security measures, including videotaping, have been stepped up on the Long Harbour property due to the Voisey’s Bay mine strike, which has lasted more than a year. Discounting an environmental assessment’s conclusion that Sandy Pond has few fish, Murphy says the pond boasts the best fishing in Newfoundland — thousands of four- and five-pound trout that feed on purple smelt.
“And to say they can take those fish and move them somewhere else is something like taking human beings and putting them on Mars,” Murphy says.
The Vale plan is to deposit sulphur residue from the processing facility beneath the surface of Sandy Pond to prevent it from turning into sulphuric acid.
“A few years back, we had (tropical storm) Chantal. This year we had Igor. What kind of dams are they going to construct to stop overflow?” he asks.
“It’s just a cheap way for Vale.”
Murphy is even more frightened about what might happen when treated wastewater from the hydromet processing facility is discharged in Placentia Bay.
“It’s going to be a disaster. … They say it’s going to be water fit to drink. I’d like to see someone drink it.”
He remembers ERCO’s raw effluent spill into Placentia Bay in the 1960s. One of 16 children, he’s fished the bay since he was six or seven years old, helping out on his father’s longliner with several of his 12 brothers.
“How bad it was before — the dead fish were running ashore and the cats and rats were eating the fish and the cats and rats were dying,” he recalls.
“We’d go out on the boat and we’d see the flocks of gulls — hundreds of gulls perched on the rocks and they’d jump up and go to wing and all of a sudden it was like somebody took them out with a shot gun or something. They’d drop in the water, stone dead.”
He said his father, George, would take divers out onto the harbour and the fish were “stacked six and eight feet high on the bottom — dead, rotten.”
The plant closed for awhile after the effluent spill into the bay. That got fixed, but there were also concerns about air quality and coke dust. According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage website, deformed moose and rabbits were found near the plant. Snowshoe hares were dissected and tested, and high levels of fluoride were found in their bones. Some of the slag was given to homeowners to use as a base for basement floors. However, since the slag contained uranium and thorium, which was found to emit radon gas — a carcinogen — ERCO was ordered to pay to have the material removed.
The plant closed in 1989, decimating a town that once had a population of several hundred.
Murphy is considered to be a bit of an oddball by some in Long Harbour now for his views about Vale and his environmental concerns.
“Most people just look at jobs. They don’t care,” he acknowledges.
“There are a few, but I can count them on their thumbs and big toes those who are going to speak up and say anything.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want (Sandy Pond) to go ahead, but most people are looking at it saying ‘There’s jobs, there’s jobs …’”
Despite his fears, Murphy would never pick up and leave. He resettled from a nearby island as a child to Mount Arlington Heights, a pretty coastal section of town, and then built a new home in Long Harbour proper when he got married.
“I’ve got no other choice,” he says.
“Where the hell am I going? I’m nearly 60 years old now. That’s it.”
On a rainy November day, Brenda Piercey is at her kitchen island, making Christmas cakes for her family. Prior to Vale’s choice of Long Harbour for the hydromet plant, the town was a place for seniors, she says. The community lost its school years ago.
She found work helping to set up mini-homes in a new subdivision in the town last winter, and has been applying for janitor work at the Vale camp, a worker motel now under construction, or at any of the Vale facilities.
“Anyone who is able to work here wants work,” she says.
“But I don’t want work to come here to the harbour only to kill us all off — what’s the point of the work, eh? I’m hoping someone is after smartening up since ERCO.”
But she says most people have to put their trust in Vale and the provincial and federal governments that the hydromet plant will be drastically different. After ERCO closed, people either moved away or, if they were lucky enough, got on at the Come By Chance oil refinery, a 40-minute drive away. Her husband works as a day hauler truckdriver back and forth to St. John’s, an hour away.
But since Vale came in, the town is hustle and bustle again, the main road too busy to walk on. Long Harbour has a fitness centre and a new fire department. A new Vale training centre under construction will eventually be turned over to the town for use as a community centre.
Piercey doesn’t struggle to wonder what her father, Tobias, would think of it all. He died eight years ago at age 82.
ERCO set up in Long Harbour in the late 1960s, lured by millions in subsidies from the Smallwood government.
Before landing a job at the plant, Tobias Murphy, a carpenter, travelled to St. John’s, Labrador and any other place he could get work. Sometimes he was gone for months, leaving his wife Mary to keep things going at home, Piercey recalls.
“There was 13 of us. He didn’t want any dust under his feet,” she says. “That was only a few crumbs here and there to get, which was not what he wanted.
“Like he said, there is good stuff and bad stuff you can say about it. The bottom line is he was home and making good money. Dad would say the same thing now. We don’t know what’s going to come out of (the nickel processing operations). We don’t know if anybody knows. We are hoping they are going to look after us.”
Her father, she says, would have no regrets, despite the environmental problems.
“It changed our life as kids when ERCO came over. Some people don’t see that part of it (now, with Vale). … Whenever industry goes up there is something destroyed,” Piercey says.
“My dad would have gone over there anyway. ... He was over there every day for 25 years. He done whatever work he could do to put food on the table.”
Long Harbour Mayor Gary Keating is watching his toddler grandson on a day off from labour relations with Pennecon. He insists that 90 per cent of the town is in support of the Vale project. Employment is increasing slowly but steadily and he hopes eventually nearly everyone will be working. He recently announced $25 million in expenditures, including the town’s own spending, plus construction of the motel, camp, training centre and plans for a restaurant and gas pumps, another new subdivision, and the slag pile landscaping.
Eight new homes have been built in the past year, the like of which hasn’t been seen in 20 years, says Keating, who also worked at ERCO as well as the Bull Arm offshore oil platform fabrication facility, in Fort McMurray and the Northwest Territories. With employment at the nickel processing facility expected to create 450 jobs, along with spinoffs, Keating is hoping the town’s population will grow by another 100-150.
As for environmental concerns Keating remarks, “What happens in the future? If we could hold a crystal ball we’d know exactly what to do. But at the end of the day, any industry of that nature requires disposing of residue.
“We had a industry here 20 years ago — Albright and Wilson (also known as ERCO) — and the emissions going out in the atmosphere. Something like that we would never support again.”
He says the federal and provincial governments will safeguard the environment.
“That’s their job. We, the town, don’t have the expertise,” he says.
From pristine to polluted, Barb Sweet, November 29th 2010.
How a region’s hunger for prosperity led to a legacy of contamination
Fergie MacKay was not long into his teaching career in Pictou County, N.S., in the late 1960s and times were hard. There was a downturn at the rail car and steel plant running the length of his hometown. Trenton proudly markets itself as the place of the first pouring of steel in British North America and it is one of the county’s five close-knit towns with its surrounding rural communities and villages. When times were good, thousands of men poured in and out of the plant’s gates during shift changes.
Thursday was payday and workers would flood the shopping district of New Glasgow, stocking up on canned goods and sale items for the inevitable layoffs between rail car orders and cyclical busts in the worldwide rail transportation sector.
So when the announcement was made that a pulp and paper giant was to open Scott Maritimes in 1967 on nearby Abercrombie Point, it spelled economic relief for the whole county. The coal mines were dying and the county was years away from luring a Michelin Tire plant.
“We were starving economically,” recalls MacKay, a Trenton councillor and retired rural high school teacher. “The pulp mill was seen as a godsend.”
Pulp and paper was a lucrative industry with no end in sight then — a good-paying job at the mill set a family up for life. And it also brought jobs in the woods and in trucking. But along with the pulp mill came Boat Harbour, a now infamous tidal lagoon where 25 million gallons of wastewater a day from the bleach kraft pulp mill was to go before being released into the Northumberland Strait. The provincial government was to own and operate Boat Harbour for 25 years, eventually handing operation over to the pulp mill.
Not every industrial story ends in a debacle the magnitude of Boat Harbour. But the use of a natural body of water for industrial waste — pulp, mining or otherwise — is something MacKay and another activist, Bob Christie, warn against.
“This was a cheap way of doing it. Once that happens, it’s gone forever,” MacKay says. “People got blinded by saying how much this thing was going to employ.”
In 1967, residents were assured the wastewater from Boat Harbour would be fit to drink, swim and fish in.
The Pictou Landing Mi’kmaq reserve — which borders the lagoon — was lured into supporting the plan by taking band officials to New Brunswick to a supposed treatment plant where an official took a drink of water, says activist, author and former federal civil servant Daniel Paul, who later helped the band take on Indian Affairs.
The facility wasn’t treating industrial waste, he says.
When Boat Harbour came onstream, not only was the tidal lagoon polluted with a toxic cocktail of dioxins, furans, chloride, mercury and other heavy metals, but Lighthouse Beach in the reserve was ruined.
“It was a mile of sand. I remember going, as a kid, to Lighthouse Beach. It was just the most gorgeous beach in the world,” MacKay remembers.
For decades, coffee-coloured water and foam washed up on beaches along a stretch of the northeast coast, which boasts the warmest waters north of the Carolinas. In the early 1970s, MacKay and some of the prominent members of the county formed the Northumberland Strait Pollution Control Committee.
“Initially, the effluent, it just came roaring out of this four-foot pipe (from the mill to Boat Harbour). It just went all through the woods and down through,” MacKay says.
The effluent now filters through settling ponds and out into the Strait.
“To clean up Boat Harbour would probably take all the money in Ottawa,” he says.
Bob Christie’s home — a family property dating to 1832 — is one kilometre from Boat Harbour. In the early 1970s, Christie worked as an engineer at Canso Chemicals, a chemical manufacturer for the pulp mill. He, too, remembers the beauty of Lighthouse Beach, which on a summer day would attract 150 people. But effluent from Boat Harbour caused contaminated foam five- to six-feet high to roll ashore.
Beginning in the 1980s, Christie was a key figure in Citizens Against Pollution, which took up the fight against the toxic lagoon. But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, says Christie, with the rail car plant down to 800 men from a peak of 2,000, county residents were encouraged to keep quiet about the mill. The effluent mess and its foul odour, after all, was the smell of money.
And faced with feeding their kids on unemployment or welfare and getting a good-paying job, people worried about the environment later, he says. The times were different — there was no environmental assessments — and the Nova Scotia government he said, was laughed at by the industry for taking responsibility for the effluent, the costliest part of running the mill, as well as supplying free water from a river.
He recalls a conversation with a retired mill manager who commented, “Bob, how godawful stupid that government was.”
In the early years, Christie says, the effluent flowed right into the Northumberland Strait. Years later, after the outcry, giant aerators and settling ponds were installed. But even that did not come easy.
Christie recalls meeting with two cabinet minsters and other officials mulling over borrowing aerators from New Brunswick. One minister asked if the departments could come up with the money. According to Christie, the other looked him in the face and said, “If I thought I could get three votes from it I would.”
“How crass. They really didn’t give a damn,” Christie says now.
“The province was stupid when it came to effluent. It is responsible for the legacy of the pollution of Boat Harbour.”
Christie, who first became involved because of the effects of pollution on fish habitat, believes the Boat Harbour of today is far different and less toxic than its early days when he would leave the site retching. But he remains adamant that no body of water should be offered up as a settling pond.
“Not any sane person today would use a natural unspoiled habitat and turn it into toxic pit,” he says.
“Because it’s cheap, it’s easy. Because they don’t give a damn and want to keep every cent in their pocket they can. The bottom line is the dollar — nothing else.”
He says he was called on to give expert advice for a panel reviewing metal mining effluent regulations in the early 1990s — a forerunner of since-updated regulations which will govern operations in Long Harbour, Placentia Bay. He describes the process as 100 different provincial and industry interests arguing 12-14 hours a day.
“At the end of the day, what came out was the lowest common denominator everyone would be happy with,” Christie says.
“Are the regulations working? Yeah, if your want lowest denominator.”
Christie says he believes a proper mine tailings pond should be lined.
“No mining company wants to do that. It would chew up a third to half of the profit. The legacy is who bears that cost?”
The Mi’kmaq reserve eventually settled for $35 million, but is still fighting over how Boat Harbour is to be cleaned up. It has filed a lawsuit, seeking a court order forcing the province to relocate the facility, estimated at $90 million. Government efforts are underway to clean up Lighthouse Beach.
Northern Pulp, the latest of several owners of the mill, says it cut the treatment area by more than 80 per cent as of July due to new regulations.
The ongoing boom and bust of the Trenton car works again set the Nova Scotia county scrambling for another major employer in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
One of those industries was a resurrection of coal mining. In 1992, 26 miners lost their lives in the Westray mine methane explosion, which Justice Peter Richard, head of an inquiry into the disaster called a “story of incompetence, of mismanagement and of bureaucratic bungling.”
The rail car plant closed up for good in 2006. All hope of another resurrection ended for many in the town when the landmark ivy-covered brick office — which always stood out from the plant — was razed.
Like Long Harbour, the county is now pinning its hopes on an industry in town. Daewoo is a wind turbine manufacturing plant that will occupy the former rail care plant buildings.
Ken Kavanagh, a retired teacher from Bell Island, a Council of Canadians spokesman and chairman of the Sandy Pond Alliance opposing use of a 38-hectare lake for mine tailings in Long Harbour, says while the industries and times are different, there is a similarity with Boat Harbour — the economic pressure placed on residents to compromise the environment for jobs.
After 40 years, he wonders if the environmental regime is more sound today.
“It’s stacked against the community and ordinary citizens,” he says.
He said the government is allowing, through its regulations and acceptance of environmental assessments, the act of taking a beautiful, pristine pond and destroying it with toxic waste.
“Things haven’t changed a great deal,” Kavanagh says.
Climate clock keeps ticking away, Gwynne Dyer, December 6 2010.
[aka No climate progress at Cancun]
No consensus on cutting emissions — and runaway climate change may happen in 20 years
The United Nations climate summit in Cancun, Mexico is nearing its end, and while the ending will not be as rancorous as last year’s train-wreck in Copenhagen, there will be no global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions this year either. However, there is some hope for the longer run.
Mohamed Nasheed is president of the Maldives, a group of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean that will be among the first to vanish as the sea-level rises in a warming world. That’s why he is so outspoken in challenging the current negotiating position of the developing countries.
“When I started hearing about this climate change issue, I started hearing developing countries say. ‘We have a right to emit carbon because we have to develop,’ ” he told the BBC recently. “It is true, we need to develop; but equating development to carbon emissions I thought was quite silly.”
That is heresy, for the standard position of the group of developing countries (G77) is that since the rich countries caused the problem, they must make the emissions cuts that would stop it. And they really did cause the problem: It was 200 years of burning fossil fuels that made them rich, and they are responsible for 80 per cent of the greenhouse gases of human origin that are now in the atmosphere.
But if only the rich countries cut their emissions, while the rapidly developing countries (which have three times as many people) let their emissions grow at the current rate, the planet will probably topple into runaway warming by mid-century.
The numbers are brutally simple. Since the Industrial Revolution began around 1800, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to 390 parts per million from 280 ppm. The point of no return is 450 ppm. After some delay, that will raise the average global temperature by two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit).
We only have 60 ppm to go, and the newly industrializing countries are growing so fast that we are collectively adding between 2 and 3 ppm per year. At that rate, we’ll reach the point of no return in 20 to 30 years.
What happens then is that the warming we have already caused triggers natural processes, like the melting of the permafrost and the warming of the oceans, that dump even more carbon dioxide into the air, causing even faster warming. Even if we later cut our own emissions to zero, the permafrost will go on melting, the oceans will continue to warm — and we may be into runaway warming.
Almost every government on Earth has formally committed to holding the warming below two degrees C. They have not, however, committed to any process that will actually achieve that goal — which is why they keep coming back to the conference table despite all the past failures.
Why don’t all the governments act? Because the developing countries refuse to accept limits on their emissions for fear they wouldn’t be able to go on growing their economies. They also resent the fact the past emissions of the rich countries have brought us all so close to 450 ppm. Whereas the rich countries ignore the history and demand similar cuts from all countries, rich and poor.
Mohamed Nasheed is abandoning the old common front of all developing countries because it may serve the short-term interest of the rapidly industrializing countries in the G77, but it isn’t in the interest of poorer, slower-growing countries like the Maldives at all.
At least 30 countries in the G77 privately share Nasheed’s view; the impending split was already visible even at last year’s Copenhagen conference. Moreover, he argues, the current negotiating position of the G77 is silly even for the bigger, richer members of the group.
“There is new technology,” Nasheed argues. “Fossil fuel is obsolete, it’s yesterday’s technology; so we [aim to] come up with a development strategy that’s low carbon.” If China, India, Brazil and the other big, fast-developing countries believed that they could go on growing their economies without growing their emissions, he says, then they’d also be willing to sign up to binding limits on emissions.
“They have to rapidly increase their investments in renewable energy,” he says, “and I think they are doing that. Once they’ve done it, they’re going to say, ‘Right, we need a legally binding agreement.’” It’s fast becoming true: China is already the world’s largest exporter of solar panels, and India is the leading exporter of wind turbines. But there is one remaining problem.
Wind turbines, solar panels and the like tend to be more expensive than cheap and dirty coal-fired power stations. If the developing countries choose the more expensive option, who pays the difference? The old rich countries that landed them in this dilemma, of course.
People in the rich countries don’t even understand that history, so they are still a long way from accepting that deal. It won’t happen at Cancun, and it may be years before it does. Maybe too many years.
The conference ends Friday.