I am amused by the retort from the “anti-environmentalists” calling those who oppose expansion of the oil industry hypocrites (e.g. me) because we drive a car and use products from oil. Of course we drive a car because we have little choice and there are certainly a lot of useful products to be made from oil which is far better than burning it. We drive a car and use gasoline because we have been held hostage and brainwashed by the oil industries and auto manufacturers that have refused to change for over 100 years (130 years later we still worship it.)

For some reason the industry keeps perpetuating the false notion that we must continue to expand fossil fuels. Well, time is changing, as it should, and new technologies and energy sources are emerging. But the way forward is being thwarted by the simple-minded stalwarts who want us to believe that we must maintain the fossil fuel industry in perpetuity, at all cost, when the science is clearly showing we must change.

This is not about the workers in the industry trying to make a living to support their families and communities. This is a criticism of our governments and the corporate influence that control our energy policies. The workers in the oil industry are trained, skilled workers and labour within the erroneous paradigm of our societal acceptance that we must continue to expand and promote fossil fuels. The  conversation we all should be engaged in must be about change and how we can move away from fossil fuels over the long-term. The industry (and our governments greased with corporate donations) however, is promoting division and is unable to engage in any meaningful dialogue towards change because they see this as a threat to their corporate profits (many of whom are foreign companies). The workers are trapped in the midst of these controversies and of course will feel threatened as well.

The real hypocrites think it is OK to keep the status quo and continue to promote, expand and burn fossil fuels and continue to use our atmosphere as a sewer with no desire for change, ignoring the consequences and carry on as if nothing is wrong.   The real hypocrites are those who resist and sabotage change but purport to enjoy nature, camping, boating and the natural world while supporting, without question, the very industry that is killing it.  The hypocrites are those that have no imagination and continue to scoff at new ideas and belittle the overwhelming and mounting scientific evidence that shows we must  reverse these trends and work together to eventually end the era of fossil fuels.

The view that anyone who opposes the expansion of fossil fuels is a hypocrite is laughable because change will not come about unless the status quo is challenged (and always should be) and new ideas are explored. Name calling cannot mask the truth and will not stop free thinking and cannot refute the science that clearly shows a different way forward is not only needed, it is imperative.



Open letter to Gary Lamphier, Edmonton Journal in response to his article Nov 24, 2016

glamphier@postmedia.com  Nov 28/16

Re: Kinder Morgan Pipeline risks

It was refreshing to read an objective article minus the unsupported rhetoric from the pro-side as well.

I have been involved with this issue for over 2 years as a researcher and have participated in the NEB process.

Here are few points to consider.


There is much debate regarding the methodology to determine risk of spills and studies indicate that this risk is underestimated. The risk of a spill is described as low risk (it is not zero) but with high consequence. This risk has increased as it has become evident that the industry is not prepared for a spill now with current operations. A spill in Burrard inlet cannot be contained or cleaned-up.

Spill Containment and Response

Despite the statements about enhanced spill response, the fact is an oil spill in the marine environment cannot be contained or cleaned up.  Studies show that at best, even in ideal meteorological conditions, only 15% of a spill could be contained and recovered and only 5% in the conditions on the BC coast. BC has some of the roughest coastline in the world with navigational hazards, large tidal swings, strong currents, changing winds, waves and big waves, storms and storm surges that will make any response slow, ineffective and basically useless. And then there is the disturbing fact that dilbit will sink through the water column when mixed with organic matter and suspended solids. Spill modelling and experience shows that a spill in Burrard Inlet, (from filling operations or a collision with another vessel or the bridges) will spread quickly with wind and tides and will contaminate shorelines and beaches. Reports state that a spill to areas such as the Maplewood mudflats cannot be cleaned up and will have long lasting adverse impacts. The extensive mudflat of the Maplewood Conservation Area (North Vancouver directly across from the Westridge Marine Terminal) is part of the International Pacific Flyway and forms the last remaining marsh/mudflat on Burrard Inlet. The impacts here will be significant and permanent.


The economic importance of this proposal to Alberta is understood. Alberta has lost significant revenue and needs to get the oil to market in order to maintain its economy; however BC (and Canada) does not rely heavily on the oil and gas industry and therefore considers the expansion of the pipeline and tanker traffic an unacceptable risk to our economy, environment and health. Do you agree that it would be better for Alberta to diversify its economy over time rather than depending so heavily on oil production (22% GDP Alta; <3% GDP BC; <4% GDP Canada) and being so vulnerable to a single market? That is not to say we don’t need oil production; we do, but it is time we started to transition away.

National Energy Strategy

This is not about Alberta vs BC. The Federal Government must take the responsibility for not planning a transition from oil long ago. We need a National Energy Strategy that promotes a low Carbon economy that supports alternate energy sources, reduces our GHG emissions and reduces our reliance and production of oil over time, instead of promoting and expanding it and locking us in for the next 50+ years or more and crippling our climate change initiatives and leaving our coast at risk.

 National Interest

Further, Canadians believe that preserving our natural and cultural heritage for future generations is in the national interest; keeping our coastline, fisheries and streams alive and healthy  is in the national interest; maintaining our wilderness, wildlife and tourism is in the national interest; reducing our contribution to climate change and to quit subsidising carbon intense and polluting industries and to save our tax dollars is in the national interest; and that having a political process that is transparent, respects democracy, science and the principles of sustainability is in the national interest.

The effects of a spill inland, along our coast or in Burrard Inlet will be catastrophic to our health, coastline, environment and economy and will outweigh by far, any economic gains. Our coast is at risk and it is simply not worth it.


Ken Bennett

Surrey BC

Federal Liberal Cabinet Members, Nov.2016 – cut and paste for email

Here is the list of Federal Liberal Cabinet members for letter campaigns. Please send an email to each and all for issues of concern, i.e KinderMorgan , TransMountain, Site C

Federal Liberal MPs cabinet – Nov. 2016




































130 years later we still worship it.


San Marino

We visited San Marino, Italy a beautiful, medieval city atop a mountain.(San Marino is actually a very small country within Italy). The evening was warm as the setting sun cast a fading, yellowish hue across the old stone walls and buildings. People were leisurely strolling along the main street and square enjoying the serenity and ambiance when a loud throaty roar could be heard coming up from the street below.  Appearing from around the bend on the steep hill was a bright red sports car coming our way. The sound however was too loud for just one car.  Coming up the narrow winding street, a parade of several Farraris appeared  proudly revving their engines with staccato screeches of tires on the cobblestones. Continue reading

The tables have turned:If you are not an environmentalist, then what are you?

As a child in the 60’s, I had a fascination and curiosity for nature. Growing up in Coquitlam, BC I had the freedom to experience, explore, camp and live in the woods and ravines near my home. When I look back, I really did have a Huckleberry Finn childhood (previous blog – unfettered childhood).  As a result, I gravitated to  the natural sciences, obtained a degree in Biology and made a professional career in the environmental field spanning 35 years. Along the way I obtained the label “environmentalist”. So what is an environmentalist?

In the 1970’s, an environmentalist (a new word then) was considered to be a long-haired, beaded, dope-smokin’, hippie. Tree Hugger, Greenie, Radical, Lefty, Pinko and other names were used by those who considered  anyone who spoke up about environmental issues to be a threat . (some of our politicians still do – more later).  The passionate activists get the media coverage and garner most of the attention because they use unorthodox methods to raise awareness. These folks conjure the image of an environmentalist. This is true due to the controversial history of the movement but only because the media perpetuates this image.

An environmentalist today, however,  is likely registered with one of the many professions now working together on these issues and challenges.  Universities around the world have developed specific environmental courses and degrees and are generating robust scientific research on the myriad of environmental issues and challenges we face. Over the years, I have worked with Professional Engineers, Foresters, Geo-scientists, Climatologists, Hydrologist, Planners, Biologists, Agrologists, Lawyers, Architects, Doctors, Economists, Health experts, Journalists and progressive-minded Developers,  on many local environmental issues. I have also met hundreds of people who are genuinely concerned about the future.

Scientists and concerned citizens realize that the earth is finite and that we depend upon our natural world to sustain our very existence.  Environmentalists are not “against everything”, but rather support responsible resource development that does not leave a legacy of pollution and destruction that also compromises the health and well-being of future generations. Sustainability recognizes the need for economic development, but not at all cost. What is missing is the true cost accounting of development because it ignores the environmental impacts that result.  Environmentalists, however, have a long-term view for the planet not a short-term, selfish attitude that promotes profit over environment and safety.

Environmentalists have been working and planning for a better future but are thwarted by ignorant politicians and government policies that do nothing to advance long-term strategies for reducing our ecological footprint.  And, I am sad to say, Canada is a laggard not a leader. Our current Conservative Government has an agenda against environmentalists or any environmental issue that impedes their development policies or exposes their lack of understanding of the issues. Our Conservative MPs still consider anyone who dares question the development of the oil sands or the pipelines to be an “environmental radical”. They have gagged federal scientists, gutted environmental legislation, refuse to act on their own Species at Risk Legislation, pour billions into the oil sands and are a world embarrassment on climate change policies. Our Provincial Liberal Government is not far behind either.

Some people are so ignorant they have resorted to childish, immature stunts to show, in a feeble-minded way, that they are not environmentalists and have gone to great lengths and expense to show it. In the following link you will see a situation that exemplifies the stupidity of an anti-environment mind-set that is also present in our governments and some corporate cultures as well, it is just not as blatant. Check this out…(rolling coal).

The tables have turned. Those that do not support environmental causes  are now seen as the ones who are out of touch, we just don’t have a word to describe them yet (although I can think of several). The environmentalists are the watchdogs and the numbers of concerned citizens are growing. Industry and governments don’t like it because they are finally being exposed and openly challenged to do better.

Environmentalists are  working to correct the destruction of the natural world, species loss and extinction, declining biodiversity, climate change, pollution, ocean acidification, world poverty, greed, and realize that economics and ecology are linked and should have equal weight in our decisions.

In my experience, most people are genuinely concerned and care about all of these things.

If you are not an environmentalist, then what are you?

Too much stuff

What does success mean to you? For most people, and I bet this includes you, success is measured by the accumulation of monetary and material things. So when in our evolutionary history did this start? Why would this accumulation of things become our measure of a person? Humans have lived in family and societal associations for hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps for a couple of million. The group worked together sharing knowledge to ensure survival and with that came innovation, invention and advancements that made life a little bit easier with small incremental improvements over the eons.

In essence we still do this, but on a grand and rapid scale.  While competition and innovation creates new and better things, how many brands of shampoo do we really need?  We now believe that we need all this stuff to survive. Good advertising does this. And with that comes increasing volumes of waste, garbage and accumulation of pollutants around the globe. Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there is a gigantic gyre of minute pieces of plastic floating around, heavy metals contaminate our food and oceans, we create immense volumes of garbage and our atmosphere is filling to dangerous levels of CO2.  The trap of consumerism and our insatiable appetite for more stuff ensures this will continue. The following animated, award-winning documentary puts our craving for more stuff in perspective. You will see yourself in it (I did). (story of stuff).

Continue reading

A Pretty Blue Planet: musings from 1974

It was very early in the morning.  My father awakened me and, rubbing sleep from my eyes, I followed him to the chesterfield ( as we called it in those days) and we sat together  in our small living room in front of our first television set.  He adjusted the antennae and we waited. It was a fuzzy picture but this was history in the making he told me. … 5-4-3-2-1- blast off – and John Glenn, America’s first astronaut, was bound for space. That was 1962. I was 8 years old. Then in 1969 we watched again as the first pictures of earth from the moon appeared as no one had seen it before. I was awestruck. It was beautiful.  There it was, a pretty blue planet floating free against the darkness of space.  Today it is commonplace to see such pictures as they arise from the numerous space shuttle and space station missions, but I wonder if it causes the same reaction as it did for me all those years ago.  So, here is one of the first musings I had as a youth on the topic of the wonder of our planet.  I wrote the attached thoughts in 1974 during my studies at university while I tried to reconcile the science of life and the cosmos and how such a magnificent place could appear.  I tidied it up a bit in later years, added the photo, but it remains virtually the same. I hope you experience the same wonder of it all as I did – and still do. 

Why are we here?  Please let your imagination consider this:

A Pretty Blue Planet Floating Free

The planet floats in the dark void of nothingness we call space.  Eternity is in all directions.  An infinite void of emptiness surrounds us. Yet here it is, a pretty blue planet floating free in its very special place in the universe.  It is not a lifeless rock with unimaginable, inhospitable conditions.  It is not an overheated poisoned place nor is it a frozen wasteland of solidified gasses.  It sits in its orbit, just the right distance from its star, spinning on a tilted axis that distributes the heat that keeps it neither too warm nor too cold, with oceans of water and a precise mix of gases in its atmosphere to sustain its life.  Yet these are just a few of the countless, apparently random factors that have come together in one place to make this special planet our home.

a planet earth

And the life that abounds is even more amazing.  The inanimate, lifeless matter, having originated from the ancient stars long since gone, arises from the earth itself and is somehow assembled into the multitude of life forms that populate, move and breathe throughout its oceans and land.  The life forms on the planet come and go, receding back into the cycle of lifeless matter from where it came, only to re-emerge again and again over the eons in various forms.  All the while the planet keeps its lonely vigil simply orbiting its star in the vastness of space; around and around it goes.


So, if the human mind and our very being are made from the matter of ancient stars, that just happened to come together and emerge as life on this planet; and when we think about such things and how amazing this planet really is; and we ponder the marvels of the universe and its secrets as they are slowly revealed to us; are we not actually the universe thinking about itself?


Are these simply random events that just coincidently all came together with an infinitesimal probability to create this special place?  – I think not.


A pretty blue planet floating free,

with everything needed to keep it alive,

is provided here at no cost,

but once it is gone,

it is forever lost.

– Ken Bennett, 1974