Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s
Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s
Field Journal #1
founder of HOPE
lead campaigner of GEO
“road warrior” of CARE-1, CARE-2, CARE-3, CARE-4, CARE-5 & CARE-6
On July 1, 2008, Tuesday, I set out from
The last thing I did in
The drive through the constant magnificence of the British Columbian scenic vista ended on this day at the foot of the spectacular Mount Robson in a village called Valemont near the British Columbia/Alberta border, where we over-nighted at a “cheap” motel ($90 – lowest among the three I saw). I was there while conducting my anti-hunting campaign back in 1996, and it is one of the most beautiful inland places I’ve ever seen.
After a heavy thunderstorm in the night, we started at 8, but within half an hour, we encountered a highway closure due to a landslide some miles ahead. Quite considerate of them to block the highway at a roadside rest stop with an info centre and a restaurant. The flip side is that we were trapped there from before 9 a.m. to after 4 p.m., by which time it was too late to for us to reach
Due to the delay, I also called to cancel on Super8, the cheapest motel I could find at
On the morning of July 3, Thursday, we started driving the 435 km from
While the weather was at least dry on our drive, it turned overcast by 3. Our pilot Jonathan told us that we could expect some turbulence and thunderstorms on our 1.5 hour fly-over of some half a dozen mines, starting with those of Suncor and Syncrude. The first half went fairly smoothly, but then we began to be enveloped in rain and we saw numerous lightning flashes all around. At one point, the turbulence got so bad that if not for the seat belt, my head would have hit the roof. Jonathan decided to do an emergency land at the Albion Mine airport to wait till the storm had passed, and the landing was the roughest in a light plane (a Cessna 172) I’ve ever witnessed (I’ve been in bush planes aplenty in my younger days). Jonathan informed us that a cross draft of 10 kph at the landing strip was about the max in which a light plane could be landed safely, and after the landing, the airport personnel told us that the cross draft at our time of landing was fluctuating between 15-25 kph.
The wait lasted about 2 hours, during which time a 727 landed and disgorged a plane load of
On July 4, we went on our bus tour (10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.) of the Suncor and the Syncrude mines. What we saw on the ground was no better than what we saw from the air, plus a olfactory assault of unsavory odours which made Taina momentarily ill.
After the tour, I called the Fort McMurray Today newspaper. I did not precede the call with a media release several days before, because I did not want to alert the mines and the locals of my intent to prevent any unnecessary disruption. The chief editor was not in, and a reporter named Carol came on the phone. Initially, she sounded tired and lukewarm, but when I told her about the tour and the time capsule, she brightened up a little. At the spur of the moment, I added that I was there in
After the interview, I asked Taina for her impression, and she said that Carol understood and agreed with over 95% of what I said, and that she was not uninformed, but was in a state of semi-despair and resignation about the whole climate change situation.
After the interview, we drove back to
One thing I learned from this experience is that the time capsule is indeed a media draw, capable of exciting jaded journalists and changing their mind from a no or maybe to a yes. Further, what they want to know is that the capsule would be buried on that very day.
July 4, I called the
In the audience was a journalist from the Fast Forward magazine, and she asked me several more question after my speech. It seems that I will have an article there as well.
My host for the coming two nights is Karen Orr, who was the first person to call me in 2005. She was with her daughter Brittany at the talk. They gave me