Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Haida's Lousy Eco-Bet

Read between the lines in the financing agreement between the Haida and the North Coast Credit Union and it appears the Old Massett Village council's $2.5-million gambit was a scheme to generate lucrative carbon credits to flog on world markets.

Too bad the band council and their partner, controversial carbon credit entrepreneur, Russ George, didn't take into account the Haida eddies in their plans to dump 200,000 pounds of iron sulphate into the north Pacific waters.   Those eddies literally wash away any possible hope of gaining carbon credits for their illegal scheme.

The Haida eddies, clockwise-rotating areas of water up to 300 kilometres in diameter, are known to carry iron-rich coastal water out to sea, where there is less iron and therefore less ocean life. The eddies form off the southern tip of the island and become highly concentrated with phytoplankton and chlorophyll, which is readily visible as a “bloom” from satellites as they travel through the northeast Pacific.

But experts also say adding iron to this particular ocean region would obscure any data collected by the salmon restoration company because it would be impossible to tell if any growth in fish food — plankton — was a result of added iron or the eddies.

“If you were going to plan to do an experiment to demonstrate the impact of iron fertilization, you wouldn’t dump it into a Haida eddy, I don’t think,” said Jay Cullen, an ocean scientist who runs a lab at the University of Victoria that studies chemicals and trace metals in marine environments.

“If a group were to fertilize such a feature with iron, it would be next to impossible to determine how productivity and phytoplankton biomass was influenced by the treatment,” he said, calling it “bad scientific design.”

So this appears to be another hare-brained stunt for Russ George that may leave the Old Massett Village band stiffed with a $2.5-million headache.


Troy said...

He is a snake oil salesman, preying on one of the poorest villages in BC. Perhaps in Canada. 70% unemployment. That number alone tells me these are a desperate people.
With the Harper government in Ottawa, and the BC LINOs in Victoria, I'm guessing there was nowhere to turn for any sort of funding or help. A man who appeared to be legit shows up with money, and he makes bold promises, and he probably knew going into the village they'd buy his story, cause it was the right environment for his sort of preaching.

The Mound of Sound said...

What I don't get, Troy, is how did he get that $2.5 million out of them. The North Coast Credit Union funding letter literally screams warnings at the OMV council. It details the controversy over this technology and specifically undermines key representations made by OMV in applying for the loan. Yet the credit union went ahead with the financing because it was fully secured against deposits of the Gwaii Trust.

Apparently our EnviroMin, as well as Fisheries & Oceans, had prior notice of this fiasco. So too did the local NDP MP who met with the council well before the seeding began. Despite that, the council appears to have been convinced this experiment was legitimate, viable and legal. Why did nobody, not one of them, intervene?

This has nothing to do with being paternalistic or meddling. It has everything to do with conveying basic knowledge.

It's pretty obvious from the financing documents that OMV was counting on recouping their investment through sales of carbon credits. An improved fishery was a factor, but secondary.

The chequered history of Russ George speaks for itself. Remember, he was slick enough to take in the Vatican.