Pipeline Struggles: We are many, they are few

Where we at? Seems like doom is around the corner daily. How many degrees global warming scientists now predicting? Two, four, six degrees? Threat to civilization? Forget civilization—threat to life on earth (sixth extinction underway, more than 50% of the planet’s wildlife lost in the past 40 years). We’re not just not hitting the breaks—we’re stamping on the accelerator!

Inequality growing—the super rich clearly comfortably in charge—got the banks, got the governments, got the media—check, check and check. So—what are we going to do?

“We”? A problematic concept, much of the time. Full disclosure: I’m a white male settler on these indigenous lands—easy enough for me to say “we,” since history has danced to my tune (and I to its). But I think we need to remind ourselves of the we we can be, and need to be, in the face of the threat we all face (however diversely, and unevenly, it threatens us).

We are many, they are few. Sure, most are sitting on their cell phones, groping in their pants for the next digital distraction. But everywhere I look, indigenous people are rising up in the face of neo-colonial, expropriative extraction projects—mines, pipelines, LNG terminals, Tar Sands and fracking fields—met head on by the Wet’suwet’en at the Unist’ot’en Camp, the Tahltan, Tsilhqot’in, Tsleil-Waututh. And I have never seen so many, and such diverse, and so hungry for solidarity a host of grassroots groups organizing their opposition to ecocide and the totally and blatantly unsustainable capitalist system—Rising Tide, Ecosocialists, Climate Convergence, Left Front, BROKE, the Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain, to name a few here on these unceded Coast Salish territories.

We are many, they are few. But—equally as important—the spaces they, the exploiters, need to work in and move through are surprisingly small. A pipeline is a narrow device, no matter how long. The forest clearing Kinder Morgan has made in the Burnaby Mountain conservation area is small, the size of a good size back yard. They intend to drop equipment from a helicopter here, for seismic testing. Doesn’t take too many bodies to make that a difficult proposition.

I’m not sure what, exactly, it might take to stop the bastards who are ignoring climate change, ignoring indigenous land title, and doubling down on profit and exploitation. I don’t understand them—they who shrug off the science, shrug off any feeling of humanity, and decide to profit from the ride while it lasts. But I know this—because we are many, and they are few—because the spaces they need to work in, to make their billions, are really, actually, often quite small—I know we can bottle them up. I know, at this point, with enough of us, and putting ourselves in the right place—we can non-violently plug these money holes with our bodies, and force change in this system. Force it—by making the old way of making money too expensive, and forcing them to try something else.

I’m not sure I will like their “something else.” But I would take the reprieve, and in that reprieve, I hope we look around, see the solidarity we have built, see the people power we have engaged—and use that power to build a new world that leaves no room for rich and powerful exploiters of life on this planet.

There is considerable urgency. The National Energy Board will this week likely yet again give Kinder Morgan permission to continue its work on Burnaby Mountain. The time to stand up is now. Join us. Join the struggles. I’d be happy to put you in contact with organizations that are working on the ground. And if you want to keep US oil giant Kinder Morgan out of Burnaby and out of the Burnaby Mountain conservation area, please see:




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