Last week some time while listening to an afternoon radio show a caller called in and claimed that he had spent most of his life working in the oilsands of Fort McMurray. He then went on a tirade about how there are absolutely no environmental controls, no penalties for environmental offenses perpetuated by operators up there and no monitoring of environmental impact up there. The show then went to the news and this idiot’s clearly untrue ravings went completely unchecked.
Now this is significant in a couple ways. People with an enviro-chip on their shoulders will not hesitate for a second to completely fabricate a case in pursuing their anti-industry goals. I have worked in the oilfield for most of my adult life. In all aspects from exploration to development, the industry is heavily monitored, regulated and punished if found to be in infraction. In five minutes of google work, anybody can find that surface mining of oilsands so far has disturbed .01% of the boreal forest (which will be reclaimed) and only .1% of the entire forest is even minable. Documentation of the reclamation efforts, the regulations and the monitoring are exceedingly easy to find. Despite that, the latte-lappers of urban areas who oppose the oilsands would rather continue to blather outright untruths. If these people will lie baldfaced to us, what indeed is their goal?
Another point to be found is how easy it is for a myth to get out there and how little effort the media makes to disprove untruths. Hey, if it bleeds it leads. It is much more exciting to forecast the pending (though unproven) end of the planet than to show that the environment and wildlife are perfectly fine. A desicated deer dying on a roadside provides more voyeuristic pleasure to the readership than presenting the reality that deer have been wasting away due to overpopulation.
A great example of this was the mythical two-jawed Goldeye caught in the Athabasca river last summer. Below is the headline that the Calgary Herald printed:
Good heavens!!!!! A mutant!!! Lock up the children!! Call in the army!! The world is ending!!!!
Here is the picture of this clear environmental atrocity:
Gotta admit he is an ugly little devil. Of course this prompted Greenpeace and the usual subjects to cry out that we must halt all oilsands development and offshoot gang of eco-nuts; “Keepers of the Water” displayed this horrific specimen at conferences around the province as visible proof that oilsands development is destroying the planet. The media eagerly lapped this up and our little fishy made headlines across the world.
When the hype finally played out, the fish was released for actual study.
Well, a few weeks ago deeply buried in the odd newspaper we see this news item: Freakish fish is really a normal specimen.
Yup. After biologists at the University of Alberta finally got to view the fish, it was quickly determined that this was a perfectly normal Goldeye. Apparently, his kind of fish has a rough, toothed tongue which after death commonly protrudes below the jaw looking as if there is a second jaw. Nothing unusual, nothing new.
This of course hardly made headlines. Were the people who were hysterical about this myth at least a little bit sheepish? This comment following the story says it all: “Hmm.. sounds like another government cover up. They are trying to convince the public that there is nothing toxic about pulp mills or oil sands.”
Yes, when the facts come against them the eco-nuts dismiss it as a government conspiracy (unchecked of course by the media). There is no reasoning with these people.
Another fallacy that the eco-crowd loves to spread is the apparent cancer increase in residents of Fort Chipewyan who live downstream of the oilsands. This began when a lone doctor up there claimed that there is an unusual increase of certain kinds of cancer in the area. Alberta health rushed up there and studied the issue. No increase was found. This clearly being a conspiracy, another study was demanded. That study did indeed conclude that there was a higher rate of cancer in the area!! It was found that the cancers were completely unrelated to those that the original doctor claimed were occurring but there was indeed a higher incident. The headlines trumpeted this claim of a new plague decimating the region of course. What was not mentioned very much however is that almost all of the isolated first nations communities in Canada have elevated cancer rates. This has nothing to do with pollution and everything to do with those communities being in a socio-economic nightmare with the majority practicing some terrifically unhealthy lifestyles.
If pollutants were leaking into that water supply, rest assured that the massive monitoring system would pick up on that. Of course, if a person is disconnected with reality and feels that it is a global conspiracy of heartless animals who want to kill our entire northern population, how can you reason with them?
I can see how some of the shallow readership of papers will absorb this garbage without doing research on their own. These eco-activists know damn well what they are spreading is utter B.S. however. These people lie in the face of the public without batting an eye. Apparently the ends justify the means to these unprincipled fools. Of course, something that is often overlooked is that groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are large multi-national multi-million dollar organizations. There are plenty of six-figure incomes that would be at risk in the eco-industry if facts were suddenly addressed. Why would people donate if indeed the world were not ending.
Patrick Moore was one of the original founders of Greenpeace. He left when the organization changed from an environmental group to essentially a self-serving, multi-million dollar corporation. They hate Moore as he has been saying it like it is.
But hey! Why lets facts get in the way of a decent myth?