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Alternative Culture Magazine

Kootenay Watersheds Under Siege


This is a human rights struggle. We are the minority, and those in the majority are exercising a tyranny of power over a vital part of our lives: our water supply. More accurately, the Government acting in the name of the majority chooses to ignore our wishes in the economic interest of the majority: or so it claims. Clearly the majority does not enjoy the enormous profits from the harvest of all this rapidly-disappearing timber--but that's another issue. If the great number of city dwellers, who benefit or think they benefit from the timber industry in B.C., could realize the potential cost to a few of their fellow citizens in the hinterland, they might think twice about supporting their Government's policy of logging in domestic watersheds.

quote from The Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees, New Society, 1996, p. 40 >

In today's materialistic, growth-bound world, the politically acceptable is ecologically disastrous while the ecologically necessary is politically impossible. Developing sustainability strategies that are consistent with the ecological bottom-line therefore depends on the convergence of ecological and political practicality.


There are other values at stake besides water. Wilderness, wildlife, spiritual values, viewscapes, other economic activity dependent on the water... I focus on the water because when the water supply is at risk we're talking about primary human needs. In other words, fundamental human rights. Anyone denied access to clean, adequate water (where it exists) is oppressed. In the case of logging in B.C. watersheds, clearly the Government is taking a calculated risk. Only some water supplies will actually be damaged. For those unfortunate few homesteaders, farmers, bed and breakfast operators or rural retirees, the life that they have built or paid for with years of work will end, investments become worthless. They (we?) are to be sacrificed for the supposed best interest of the many.

As with any oppressive policy which wreaks havoc in the lives of a minority for the sake of a larger public, only greater awareness and conscience on the part of that public can bring about change.

© Nowick Gray

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