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By Wade Davis

A couple of evenings ago, Nate and I attended a sold out presentation by the ever eloquent Wade Davis. He was as oratorically brilliant as the last 2 times I had heard him speak, but this time his presentation carried a sombre message. Shell wants to drill more than 1,000 coalbed methane gas wells in the Sacred Headwaters-a vast alpine basin that is the shared birthplace of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers- which threatens communities, wildlife and wild salmon. His book, Sacred Headwaters is a testament to the beauty of BC’s remote north western corner and an expression of Wade’s true love for the place he calls home. The images and his words convey the wildness, the vastness, and the pristine loveliness of this place- bittersweet now that the Red Chris mine- an open pit copper mine that will result in the amputation of Todagin mountain (home to the largest population of Stone Sheep in the world) and giant toxic waste ponds-  has been granted a permit to operate right in the heart of it.  I was struck by the terrible irony of how its remoteness has up until now preserved it from the machinations of the industrial world  but may now well seal its fate as a site for oil and mineral development as it lays far from the eyes or experience of the vast majority of British Columbians that might otherwise protect it. Those that will suffer the effects of coal bed methane drilling or copper mining are the few that live on the land and to whom their land is their life. Wade described the injustice implicit in land deals that are negotiated in far off board room by executives that have never visited the site in question and yet their decisions to plop a mine or oil well wherever they choose has consequences deeply felt by those that live there and future generations. He wasn’t suggesting that all development is bad- far from it- it’s just that there are some places that are so ecologically and culturally significant that they deserve to be kept intact. Why is that so hard to understand?

I marvel at the fact that those with the common sense to understand this are labeled “environmentalists.” Quite frankly, I’m surprised that the label exists at all. It’s like being labeled a “life-ist” or an “anti annihilationist” and then being forced to defend that position. 

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Wade ended on an upbeat by suggesting that we have the power to sway Shell and others in how they manage their projects. It seems now more than ever before grassroots movements have the tools to really effect change-that gives me hope. 

And just when things seemed too intellectually composed, Wade slipped in a few f-bombs, some references to his drug tripping days with the Shamans and how  “Mitt Romney clearly didn’t get laid in college.”

A little something for everyone!

 

 

 

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