Sunday, February 18, 2007

Go Green in the Great White North

On February 15th, the Montreal Gazette reported yet again that the pentagon calls our claim to the Northwest Passage excessive and tenuous. The suggestion from our neighbors is to work through the UN to protect our own claim. This is and has been the position of the US for pretty much the entire time the North has been at all an issue.

The last time we visited this issue was when a US submarine used the passage without notification or permission and surfaced to find no Canadian presence to enforce the claim. They insist that the passage is "international water" and no permission or notification is necessary. It's a merry-go-round of sovereignty we've all heard before but now there's more at stake.

Global warming has significantly decreased the size of the glaciers in the arctic as well as increasing the ambient temperature in the area. This makes for a more desirable and cheaper route to Europe. So before what was a question almost of courtesy that would affect wildlife and habitats under the care and cost of the Canadian Government, is now a question of toll. Shall European and American companies and governments use the Northwest Passage on a regular basis for a smile and a wave or at a premium? I have my doubts that we will effectively convince other countries to abide by our wishes.

The traffic increase expected will have a direct effect on the First Nation people who inhabit the area as well as the animal population. These citizens of Canada are our responsibility and as such it is Canadian taxpayers who will cover the costs of environmental damage done to our coastal land. A reasonable subsidy only if the countries and companies who wish to use the passage pay a toll, such as is the norm for any other international travel.

But we can't complain that they don't take us seriously. The European Union agrees with the US that the passage should be considered international, so at the moment, like softwood lumber, it's our word against theirs. I doubt the current leadership would lift a finger to ensure the Canadian economy and habitat is properly funded and cared-for, particularly since part of such an undertaking would have to include deployment. That's right, we'd need to send people way up north to enforce such a rule and don't think for a moment that because it's warm enough to melt a glacier means it's warm enough to enjoy full-time. I have though, a solution to suggest: Go green.

Currently there is research into tidal hydroelectric generation taking place on several fronts, the most promising seems to be Blue Energy International. The basic idea is that rather than using a dam (extremely damaging and mostly pointless) an underwater buoy is built with a turbine inside that the tide itself forces water through. This generates an enormous amount of electricity without the ecological damage of a dam or nuclear power plant. It also allows for sale of said electricity for a profit that pays for the construction of the turbine itself. Finally, it allows for a raison d'etre in the north. It is unfortunately true that currently few politicians, business people or regular citizens like yours truly have much of an interest in the north. The ecosystem to be found there is occasionally visited by the discovery channel or bored celebrities trying to destroy the traditions of our native people in the name of animal rights, but on the whole, it's not newsworthy. Proof of this is the fact that the pentagon recommendation made the 4th page behind a full-colour photo of a man bicycling in the snowstorm on valentine's day last week. But if our coasts were places of economic interest such as electricity generation, we might have a reason to insist that other countries and companies respect our reasonable claim on the waters off of our coasts. If we are to allow them to contribute to the production of greenhouse gases by fueling tankers with fossil fuels, the least we can expect them to do is subsidize our greener efforts while in our country.

We might also get some heat to the Innu while we're at it, as electricity is only one of many basic human necessities our First Nations citizens do without. The reservation system is in a deplorable state all over Canada. I assume that should we move forward in this simple and viable method, we can at least begin to integrate the ways and knowledge of natives with those who would need to build and administrate a northern tidal power plant.

There is an election coming and I can only assume once more that no mention of our sovereignty will enter into any discussion from any candidate. The liberals changed their leadership, so this time instead of choosing between 4 rich, white men to represent me, I'll have to choose between the same 3 rich white men and one other new rich white guy to lead our country in the best interest of all Canadians. I usually think hard about it, I look at all the angles, all the issues and the men themselves. I want to know what type of decision-makers these people are along with what drives them, can they be pressured? Will they be held-hostage by interests other than their own? This time I'll make it simple on all of them. Whoever bitches about lumber first (no-one so far has even mentioned it) and/or whoever clearly states that there is an issue of sovereignty to be solved in this country, that person will get my vote.


Craig Sauvé said...

Hey Mermaid,
To be fair the tories developped plans to reassert Canadian sovreignty of the north by increasing military presence.

Also, I dig your line of thinking when it comes to developping Tidal Hydroelectricity as a method to enrichen to north whilst being green. I am just not so positive that this is feasible given that in the transmission of electricity a fraction is always lost, and that of course increases with distance. And hey, the north's far, eh?! The roads in quebec, for example, only go 1/4 the way up. And according to the Global Energy network institute, the longest possible cost-effective transmission of elecricity is 4000 clicks. For now EMail Gary Lunn.

By the way, you want people bitching about lumber (Iam assuming the softwood deal in particular)? Look no farther than the dippers. and and

Freshwater Mermaid said...

babe, the complaint is that other countries use our passage but we don't patrol it. Feasibility is the issue. No-one, not even the faithful deeps are talking sovereignty, though at least they are attempting to make some kind of fuss. Harper's suggestion, like many, are unrealistic. I'm talking about development and a reminder that we are not seen as sovereign over our own land. As the glaciers melt, the passage becomes more palatable for higher traffic and any damage done to our shores will be cleaned up at our expense and the rest of the world doesn't give a shit. I take these sorts of things personally.

thx fer the links;)

Craig Sauvé said...

I gotcha, I am just sayin that I am not sure your proposition is feasible, tingling pleasantly in my ears though it be. And the grits spoke a bit about sovreignty, especially when goaded on about that fucking obscure Hans island that Denmark's claiming to get access to the northwest passage, plus fishing rights (goddamn Danes! I'll give them something to claim....). And for sure the tories were talking arctic sovreignty -I agree with you though how's a few more ships patrolling gonna change anything?!

Freshwater Mermaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freshwater Mermaid said...

I miss my huny! Trudeau would never let this happen if he was still around. sigh. Did I ever tell you about the idea I had for clean renewable hydro-electric power taken by harnessing the massive torque of Trudeau and the Dief and other heavyweight PMs spinning like turbines in their graves? No-one even talks about who we are as a country any more...sigh. Comme ca je suis une petite nationaliste triste, en souvrant du malaise de coeur...