Forget Kramer versus Kramer, the new battle worthy of a motion picture is the increasing bitter spat of Redford Versus Redford over the tar sands.
In one corner of the ring sits Hollywood legend Robert Redford, star of films such as The Sting and All the Presidents Men and now a committed environmentalist and ardent critic of tar sands and the Keystone XL.
In the other corner is Alberta Premier, Alison Redford, ardent and passionate supporter of ripping up her homeland, poisoning the local Indigenous community, extracting the tar sands and exporting it to anyone who wants it.
Ironically the two Redfords may even be distantly related, but now they find themselves on the polar opposite sides of the tar sands and Keystone XL debate.
And the war of words is heating up.
Earlier this week, Robert Redford penned an article on Exxon’s latest spill in Arkansas, calling it another “red flag” warning signal: “When I see raw tar sands coursing through people’s yards and across wetlands, it makes me sick,” he wrote, adding: “My thoughts are with the people in Arkansas who are dealing with this river of toxic mess.”
Redford is not alone in arguing that the Arkansas spill is yet another reason why we should say no to KXL, but his is a powerful voice. “My thoughts instantly move ahead to what could happen to farms, families, homes, and wild areas across our country if we support expansion of tar sands with permits for pipelines such as Keystone XL.”
Calling tar sands “different and dangerous”, Redford asks “how many red flags do we need before we realize that the solution is to stop tar sands expansion and say no to tar sands pipelines? I think we’ve seen enough.”
Robert’s words will have been like a red rag to a bull to Alison Redford, the Premier of Alberta, who has done as much as any Canadian politician to push the dirty tar sands internationally.
“Celebrities being celebrities will never change, but at the end of the day it is important for us to speak for the people whose lives are actually affected by these decisions, ” she said, with no hint of irony that she is not talking for the Ingenious communities who are being slowly poisoned by her policies.
Earlier this week, Alison was on her fourth trip to Washington in just 18 months to lobby on behalf of the Keystone XL.
She basically said that critics of the pipeline, including Robert Redford, were “far from reality” about its environmental costs.
“They proclaim that either you stand against the oil sands, or you write off the environment, along with any hope for a sustainable existence,” said Redford. “That is completely wrong.”
Ironically before being elected Alison Redford was a human rights lawyer. Maybe she should stop flying to Washington and, instead look at how the tar sands is impacting the rights of First Nations in her province.
This week, there was more bad news for the local Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s in their bid to block a ruling on Shell’s Jackpine tar sands mine in northern Alberta, as the Supreme Court blocked the challenge.
“We are truly disappointed with this decision as we have diligently proceeded through legal avenues to have our rights upheld,” said Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam.
“We understand that this joint review panel was supposed to uphold everyone’s constitutional rights. Why has there been an exception with regards to First Nations’ consultation rights?
You are the human rights lawyer, Alison. You should know.
“Alberta Premier, Alison Redford, ardent and passionate supporter of ripping up her homeland, poisoning the local Indigenous community, extracting the tar sands . . . ”
These actions are bad for the environment and the Indigenous community, to be sure, but few seem to include CLIMATE in “the environment” or in effects on community. Climate effects involve several indirect steps and thus seem abstract to some people who don’t always connect the burning of fossil fuels with worsening storms and wild fires, droughts and rising sea levels.
The commercial newsmedia don’t help much, perhaps because drawing attention to climate by speaking of dire effects on climate caused by burning fossil fuels and producing CO2 might suppress consumption of fossil fuels which might suppress stock prices, etc. You’ll notice Obama, sensitive to protecting the interests of Wall Street, carefully avoids such a connection.
True the melting tundra is releasing CO2 as well but this is largely caused by CO2 released from burning carbon in a kind of vicious circle.
Whenever possible we can emphasize the correlation between the burning of oil, gas and coal and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. For example, we can use a phrase we used to great effect in the 1990’s regarding the economy, even more specific in this case: It’s the CO2, stupid! Each time it’s said, it has to be explained and people will soon get educated about how the cycle works.
The massive tar sands pipeline spill in Arkansas might seem one dimensional — oil on the ground or in a river — but it’s a dramatic opportunity to tell people this oil was going somewhere to be burned.
NASA’s chief climate scientist Dr James Hansen warns that burning the entire tars sands oil reserve will release so much CO2 into the atmosphere, it will be “game over for climate.”
Whether exported overseas or consumed here at home “here, there and everywhere CO2 is released, it’s a climate menace.” Pipelines are enablers of the fossil fuel addiction while also inherently polluting.
Eventually people will begin to say, “Leave it in the ground!” but they’ll have to get the connections clear in their minds.
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