Minutes after stopping a car on Vancouver's Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to disrupt traffic Monday, protesters holding a “Save Old Growth” banner were arrested.
Police were on standby at the bridge before the action even started, alerted perhaps by news of protesters planning to block vital roadways in various B.C. locations every day until old-growth logging is stopped. Shortly after activists rolled up in a green sedan and stopped the vehicle in a northbound lane just after 7:30 a.m., Vancouver police officers moved in.
Within minutes, officers arrested two protesters who left the car and sat on the bridge deck with the “Save Old Growth” banner.
Two more people, who remained inside the vehicle, lasted only a bit longer. After a short interaction, a Vancouver police officer grabbed a baton, smashed two side windows, dragged both people out of the car and arrested them. Another protester who wasn’t in the car was also arrested.
In a media release, the Vancouver Police Department said that in addition to the arrests, officers seized three vehicles near the bridge they believed were to be used to block traffic. The car the protesters drove on the bridge was towed away shortly after.
“Our officers worked quickly to prevent a prolonged blockade on the bridge and to keep traffic moving,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison.
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“Although we avoided major delays, many people were still impacted while we worked to restore order.”
Some drivers trying to make their way to North Vancouver were unimpressed. One yelled at the blockaders; another shouted, “Get a job.”
Earlier in the morning, other members of Save Old Growth (SOG), a group started in January, cut off lanes of the Patricia Bay Highway near the Swartz Bay ferry terminal on Vancouver Island and the Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta, where four people were arrested.
The Lower Mainland blockades were cleared by 8 a.m., but traffic was heavily backed up, with long delays along Highway 99 in both directions approaching the tunnel and along Highway 1 approaching the bridge.
Traffic along the Patricia Bay Highway, or Highway 17, was still blocked northbound at the interchange near Tsehum Lagoon Park as police dealt with protesters until 10:45 a.m.
One protester was injured and sent to hospital after an angry motorist interfered with a ladder structure at the Patricia Bay blockade, SOG spokesperson Tim Brazier said, adding details about the severity or nature of the injuries weren’t yet available.
The RCMP specialized obstacle removal team and the Community-Industry Response Group were called in to safely dismantle the obstacles set up at the Vancouver Island blockade, said media relations officer Cpl. Alex Bérubé.
“The protest created frustration amongst commuters who attempted to bypass this illegal blockade,” said Bérubé, who confirmed a protester was injured falling from a ladder. Five arrests were made in total at the Pat Bay site, he added.
In all, 14 people were arrested at the three blockades.
“Those blockades are simply dangerous for protesters and for others,” he said.
“While we understand the commuters’ frustration, the RCMP does not condone illegal actions taken to bypass blockades,” he added.
An investigation will take place to look into the circumstances of the protester’s fall, said Bérubé.
The group said it will continue to block critical infrastructure “for as long as possible” until its demand is met — that the B.C. government ban old-growth logging in the province. Although details have not been released about future plans, organizers said they have trained additional protesters and will go back with more people in the days to come.
“We will be going back on the roads again tomorrow in Vancouver and every day until the government passes legislation,” Brazier said Monday.
“People entering into civil resistance today are having to put themselves in harm's way because much greater harm is coming down the line if we don't act on the climate crisis.”
Monday’s protest builds on previous action — the group has organized blockades in recent months in the Lower Mainland, the Greater Victoria Area and on Vancouver Island. It has also dumped manure at B.C. Premier John Horgan’s office.
The provincial government respects the right to peaceful protest, but a small group of individuals trying to disrupt other people’s lives is the wrong approach, Forestry Minister Katrine Conroy said in an email.
The B.C. government has deferred logging in 1.7 million hectares of old-growth forest in partnership with First Nations, she said, adding approximately 80 per cent of the most at-risk old-growth in B.C. is not threatened because it is protected, deferred or not profitable to harvest.
However, old-growth logging is a political hot button, and environmental groups have hotly contested the province’s commitment to meeting the recommendations of the old-growth strategic review and protecting B.C.'s biggest trees and ancient ecosystems. Indigenous leaders have also expressed concern about the length of and details in the deferral.
Close to 1,200 people were arrested at the Fairy Creek old-growth logging blockades, one of the longest-running civil disobedience protests in B.C.'s history, on southern Vancouver Island last summer in Horgan’s riding.
Last week, Zain Haq, co-ordinator for Save Old Growth, said the move to block highways is in response to the urgency of the climate crisis. Although he said he understands protesting at sites such as Fairy Creek or the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (where he has been arrested at both), he thinks different kinds of civil disobedience are necessary.
“What I've come to realize is that what we need to do is something much bigger. That communicates the existential emergency that we're in; that sort of involves the public in the debate,” he said.
“... It's not like you want to be doing this. Or that we're super into blocking highways or ferries. But that's totally what we need to do to force this dialogue on the government and on the press.”
It’s why old-growth forests, which sequester carbon from the atmosphere, provide habitat and flood and fire protection, need to have clear protection, said Haq.
Canada’s National Observer reached out to Horgan’s office but has not heard back. This article will be updated as comments become available.
the urge to keep doing what
the urge to keep doing what we have done ( status quo) gives us a feeling that all is well and there is no need to worry, change, think, feel
disrupting people’s routines makes them wildly angry, because it forces them out of their torpor. but some might even look around, ask why is this happening, look around some more, ask more questions, feel something real,
or just lash out at the disruptors, as if they are the cause of the climate disaster B. C. ( and the rest of us) are sleep walking in.
You're right. At least when
You're right. At least when people are angry, they're awake. But it still seems "the public" has no idea (indeed, wants no idea) of what's in store -- even though it's going to be (and already is for hundreds of millions of people around the world, not to mention the rest of Nature) many orders of magnitude worse than being stopped in traffic by those trying to stave off that hellish future. (Al Gore once called the path we're on "a nature walk through the book of Revelation.") I hope everybody's practising up breathing money, eating money and drinking money, cuz they're acting like they believe money, profit and greed are more important than life itself. There will be no winners on our way to extinction, just those who lose first — and, of course, they will be those who are already marginalized and vulnerable.
so very true... oh the webs
so very true... oh the webs we have weaved as a humanity...
al gore also put it out their... an inconvenient truth .
people for the most part live in a la la land that will come back to bite them .
On April 27, John Horgan said
On April 27, John Horgan said, "I hope there will be consequences for their actions - significant consequences." Mr. Horgan's call-out to vigilantes has been answered before, and again in today's citizen response where one old-growth protector was injured by a motorist. The BC NDP are being disingenuous at best and possibly lying outright to British Columbians about their plans to defer (or not) logging of at-risk, healthy, productive old-growth and, in the process, deflecting citizens' anger at those few who are trying to preserve rare, precious ancient ecosystems and, in the process, address the climate emergency in some small way. John Horgan and Katrine Conroy say all the right words about protecting old-growth but, as always, watch what they DO, not what they SAY. What they are doing is continuing to allow clear-cuts of precious old-growth forests.
“Save Old Growth” is becoming
“Save Old Growth” is becoming smaller, not bigger, and intensifying its misguided, cult-like cyst of irrational emotion. It is not a popular movement—indeed it’s becoming less popular with every act of petulant disobedience. It is rather a self-righteous, self-absorbed group of chauvinists and, to the extent that its leaders plan and reason, political charlatans as well.
Mr Haq is either seriously misguided or worse: an outlier for his own sake. His premise that preserving old-growth ameliorates climate-change is completely false. The attempt to wed his conspiracy to the grab-bag of ecological concerns like wildlife, hydrology, and natural-disaster mitigation are simply hackneyed camouflage of willful malice intended to confuse the dull-witted and surf on the gathering waves of reactionary protests like “United We Roll” and the “Freedom Convoy.”
Save Old Growth affects a disservice to any of those legitimate concerns by sending them up fairy-tale creek without a paddle. This squirt of squid-ink gets blacker only to conceal its own triteness while it pontificates upon its own version of complexity. With injuries mounting from SOG’s sabotages, it’s likely this narrative will be incorporated, as only reactionary conspiracy theorists can do, into typical elaborations of improbabilities and intransigence. This is not a political movement because its policy, such as it it, is unworkable, citizens and voters of BC don’t approve of it, and it can’t get it done, anyway. It is a pest of carcinogenic potential and its politics of ginned passion is ultimately demagoguery and dangerous. It’s rationalization that the alternative is even worse is utter bullshit.
Political process does not submit to petulant demands or the waylaying of random hostages for ransom—any more than the democratically-elected government of our nation should submit to menacing, illegal agitators’ demands for capitulation. SOG cannot cogently contribute to the political process of compromise and cooperation—the only legitimate way to proceed, as our government is doing—so it condemns politics outright. But SOG can’t even do that in any way that purchases traction with citizens. In fact, it is slipping its own knot.
There are plenty of reasons to preserve more old-growth, but carbon-sequestration is not one. Anybody who thinks old forests are insatiable absorbers of CO2 is an ignoramus. OG does not do that, just as trees do not grow to the moon and live forever like some kind of child’s bedtime story.
Preserving any or all old-growth, whether fancifully immediate or cautiously gradual, cannot not make a whit of difference to climate-change unless major causes are stemmed: human-generated CO2 from fossil-fuel combustion-engines, factories and coal-fired electricity generation around the whole world, exhausted into the whole atmosphere. It is a global phenomenon, whence the term “global warming.” The sum of atmospheric CO2 cycling is a function of both land and water surface areas. To put BC’s OG into global CO2 context is to underscore its relative insignificance with respect photosynthesis-absorbing and respiration-emitting of atmospheric CO2: there are about 11.1 million hectares of OG in BC compared to the Earth’s surface area of 510.1 trillion hectares—that is, all of BC’s OG covers just 0.000002% of the planet. There are other reasons to preserve more OG but, plainly, mitigation of climate-change is not one.
Naturally there are also significant nonhuman sources of atmospheric C02: animal and fungal respiration, wildfire, and volcanic vents. About 750 gigatons of CO2 are cycled annually in and out of the atmosphere, and human-sourced CO2 emissions, at about 30 gigatons, looks small in comparison. However, the capacity to store CO2 in plants, soil, water, and shell is limited and human-sourced CO2 emissions have measurably exceeded the recycling balance, thence accumulating the excess in the atmosphere—whence global warming—and in water bodies—whence ocean and lake acidification.
Thus, logging of old-growth forests in BC is neither a significant causes of climate-change (in fact, it is immeasurably small) nor does preservation of current OG mitigate climate-change in any significant way: the amount of ‘excess CO2’ is way, way too big, and the area of BC OG is far, far too minuscule to have even any measurable effect on the atmospheric CO2 ledger whatsoever, and therefore any effect upon climate-change.
There are other ways to refute the all-too popular misconception that OG policy in BC has significant—let alone “critical” (as SOG falsely claims)—affect on atmospheric CO2 pollution. For example, trees get bigger as they age and absorb CO2 to make biomass, but they do not grow or live forever—meaning they do not absorb CO2 indefinitely: they are definitely limited in capacity and, once ‘full,’ they occupy their areas of sunlight without absorbing more CO2, effectively subtracting that area from carbon-storage potential that younger trees could be absorbing. But there’s more: fungi, which decay wood and are naturally typical in old stands, respire stored CO2 back into the atmosphere; thus, as forests age, they eventually and inevitably reach their capacity to store more CO2 while, at the same time, fungi decay more and more wood, eventually and inevitably returning the stored CO2 to the atmosphere. Indeed, OG stands eventually become net emitters of CO2 because the rate of decay surpasses that of photosynthesis.
Of course trees become nothing but emitters after they die unless the wood is protected from decay or fire. If OG preservation has any service toward sequestering CO2 to significant effect, it could only be to harvest it when it becomes topped-up with CO2, but before it becomes a net emitter (due to decay), and then sequester the logs somewhere where they can’t rot or burn —like under deep, anoxic water—, then regenerate the logged area with growing forests which are net absorbers of CO2 (they are growing and too young to be significantly decayed by fungi), harvesting them when they get full, and sequestering them (underwater, for example) in their turn, incrementally, absorption-year after absorption-year, stand after stand, taking CO2 out of the atmospheric cycle and sequestering for good.
Although that scenario is perfectly possible, to demand that it be done while diminishing the myriad of other things we must do to live by exacting its perfect compliance and immediacy would be every bit as trite as SOG demand to end all OG logging— “NOW! NOW!! NOW!!! (Or we’ll take innocent hostages for ransom).”
Common sense will prevail in spite of SOG. Even if complete cessation of OG logging were agreed upon (which it never will be), immediacy, as SOG demands, is totally petulant and impolitic. Instead, tens of thousands of forest jobs which depend on OG logging, must be allowed its time to attrit workers and/or transition to managed stands or to other lines of work, as well as retiring contractual obligations to licensees (which we cannot afford to compensate by expropriation). There are also sovereign claims of indigenous nations (few BC First Nations have extinguished their claims by treaty) to consider, as well as the unavoidably approaching impact of climate-change on the ecological viability of remaining old-growth. Immediate cessation of OG logging would beggar BC and its ability to reconcile with FNs (by treaty-making) and deal with the ecological facts of climate-change which will—underline “will”—make preservation of some types of old-growth quite impossible. (In fact, this phenomenon is already underway: the -NW- coast of Vancouver Island, hitherto classical rainforest which, by definition, never dries out, has been experiencing summer water deficits for a few years now and, very unusually, wildfires. Unlike non-rainforest forest ecosystems in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island, typical rainforest tree species do not survive even the lightest exposure to wildfire—thus, several centuries of growth and CO2 storage is terminated in a virtual moment, the OG ecosystem removed, and the potential to regenerate it (say, as eventually preserved OG) likely gone for as long as it would take to return to the natural climate after 200+ years of dumping human CO2 into the atmosphere until it tips the balance—as it definitely has. It’s never simple, therefore SOG’s simple demand should correctly be as never.
I don’t know what Mr Haq’s real motives are, but it’s plain he doesn’t want British Columbians to consider the real facts because that would burst his balloon of alarm and radical reaction. We don’t need or want either. There are plenty of good reasons to preserve more OG, but CO2 sequestration simply is not one of them—not even a little bit. And blocking bridges, supposedly to “enlighten the masses” is no way to do it, not even a little bit.
To be fair, I can’t definitely discount that he is as misinformed as he would have his followers, but if he does know that his climate-crisis equation with OG is fallacious but willfully ignores it while putting citizens and our province at greater risk, he is either pathologically self-indulgent or a charlatan, or both.
SOG subtracts from, not adds to, strategies to preserve old-growth for real reasons. Haq’s ‘what-ever-it-takes’ attitude is as cavalier as it gets.
Whence the assumption that
Whence the assumption that the only thing that counts is carbon sequestered?
As it turns out, those old-growth trees feed much more than just themselves, and I guess anyone who does't breathe wouldn't be concerned with the fact that they not only hang on to carbon, but also "breathe out" oxygen. Same oxygen you and I need to breathe.
As it turns out, very old trees literally support other life below the ground. Even trees, it turns out, generally do better near others of their kind, and in close harmony with numerous species.
The thing about logging off those old forests is that when the mother tree dies, so does the underground network of roots and rootlets, of fungii and insects.
Not only that, but aside from acting as a sunblock to keep snow from melting all at once, causing floods and landslides, that network of roots and underground life draws in huge amounts of moisture, and holds it both within its own tissue and it's symbiants', all coming out of dormancy and ready to use it all for growth.
And when there's water, and the sun shines, the trees respire and make moderating breezes ...
Then there's how that underground network holds soil in place, even when it floods.
When the old forests are left, so too are all the species of miniscule creatures under the ground. Some die out in a single season, and it takes on the order of decades for the underground microflora if they do survive to populate a large enough area to make another forest.
Without commenting on the Save Old Forests group or its activities, it's a huge issue all across the boreal forests. The Amazon Forest makes 20% of the oxygen we have to breathe. The other forests, including the boreal forests, make the remaining 80%.
The old trees sequester carbon more efficiently than young ones.
And that's all before beginning to consider the benefits stable forests have for coastlines and oceans.
Saving Old Growth is hugely important. There are, FI, reindeer that need the moss that hangs from very, very old trees in Scandinavian old-growth forests. Once the tree is cut, the fungus is gone, and it takes many, many decades for it to begin growing again, leaving those animals without food and often, the forest harvesting industry being rapacious as it is, with nowhere to go. The species become extinct.
Save the reindeer!!!! Can you just *imagine* the carbon footprint Santa'd make every year, were he carbon-fuel propelled???
But the thing is, what is old supports other life as well, including that which is essential to ecosystems hundreds of miles away.
I doubt anyone could disagree that there are real reasons to preserve old-growth trees and forests, wherever they remain. I've watched the whole government gong-show around the environment for decades, and it seems to me that ppl *should* be mad about the whole show: not an organization doing stuff I wouldn't do myself (mainly for reasons I suspect don't apply to them), but are at least intent upon doing *something*. I don't know what works: only that once something eventually does, it's probably not just the last act before it happened that made it be.
Save old growth, the
Save old growth, the environment, survival of the vulnerable - but don't force these issues with my way or the highway. I know that humanity has been locked out of politics and that power has triumphed over wisdom for centuries, but we must not allow our integrity to become weaponized. To be in control is denying the reality of our universe. I recommend ways of teaching a better way through loving kindness. The link between saving our planet and the world is our relationship to one another. Frustration, tears and fear is part of the experience.
Whenever a good idea becomes a demand we no longer live in our humanity. We become a force of violence which takes over the original wisdom.
Witness communism or capitalism. They started off as good ideas then became the authoritarian movements of those who craved power.