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The Gentrification of the Rural West

By Ryanne Pilgeram - In These Times, February 4, 2022

Most of the windows in the Dover, Idaho community hall face old Dover, still looking over the original mill workers’ houses and church that were transported upriver in 1922. Slipping into the kitchen and peering out the back window, however, is a reminder of how much Dover has changed. In the 1950s, it would have looked at a tangle of trees, then a deep meadow in the distance, and the community’s sandy beach just beyond that. Later, the view would include massive piles of woodchips, the birch trees providing some cover between the building and graying piles of sawdust.

Today, there’s a walking path that skirts the back of the community hall and, beyond that, brand-new homes. Dozens of buildings, from condominiums to bungalows to massive mansions, now sit in the fields where the mill once stood. Adorned with natural wood shingles and crisp white trim, the homes share a similar architectural style, meant to evoke the craftsman style that was popular when the buildings of old Dover were floating up the river. But the homes are unmistakably modern in their attempt to blend the ruggedness of the Pacific Northwest with the comforts of upper-middle-class living.

Lining freshly paved streets, the new homes nestle against the development’s headquarters, which features a fitness club and an upscale restaurant. The development was approved in 2004 after a lengthy and contentious struggle with the inhabitants of old Dover. Since then, new Dover has brought waves of new people to the community, drawn by the scenic beauty (and recreational potential) of the river and adjoining lake. 

When looking out the window of the old Dover community hall, the new homes are so close, it seems like you might be able to peer inside them. But the new homes are built with their backs to the community center so that they can face the lake and river. 

And so it is: old and new, back to back, a path winding between them. 

Flooding in British Columbia is an unfolding, man-made climate disaster

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, November 17, 2021

After the disastrous summer heat wave which killed 595 people in British Columbia in June 2021, along comes the worst natural weather disaster in Canada’s history so far : torrential rains and flooding which began on November 15 in southern British Columbia, centred on Abbotsford and the agricultural Fraser River Valley, including First Nations lands. One person so far has been pronounced dead; mudslides, rockslides and water have destroyed roads, bridges and rail lines; motorists have been stranded, and supply chains from the port of Vancouver to the rest of Canada are disrupted. Thousands of people and animals have been evacuated and rescued from homes under water. The culprit? As reported by the National Observer, “Lethal mix of cascading climate impacts hammers B.C.” (Nov. 17). But human fingerprints are all over this climate catastrophe, as explained in “‘A tipping point’: how poor forestry fuels floods and fires in western Canada” (The Guardian, Nov. 16). The Guardian article cites a February 2021 report, Intact Forests: Safe Communities, in which author Peter Wood warned of the potential catastrophe around the corner unless the province’s forest management practices were changed.

Responding to over a year of intense pressure, the government of B.C. DID announce new plans in November, to defer logging on 2.6 million hectares of at-risk old growth forests for two years or so, pending the approval of First Nations – a compromise policy which satisfied no one. “BC Paused a Lot of Old-Growth Logging. Now What?” (The Tyee, Nov. 8 ) explains background to the decision and the opposition from the United Steelworkers, whose members work in the forestry sector . The USW press release accuses the government of selling out the workers. “Protecting some old growth isn’t enough. B.C. needs a Forest Revolution” and “Counting the Job Costs of halting old growth logging” expand on the economic arguments for the clearcutting of B.C.’s forests. (The Tyee, Nov. 10). B.C. now needs new research, to count the dollars required to re-build lives and infrastructure after this disaster.

Protecting Some Old Growth Isn’t Enough. BC Needs a Forest Revolution

By Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Arnold Bercov, Torrance Coste and Ben Parfitt - The Tyee, November 12, 2021

Governments have mismanaged the sector for decades. Now communities and First Nations should lead.

No one should be surprised that the British Columbia government’s plan to consider deferring logging in 26,000 square kilometres of old-growth forest angered many and pleased few.

First Nations’ leaders were highly critical of the incredibly short 30-day period the government imposed on them to respond to the deferral proposals, the paltry funding provided by the province to offset consultation costs, and the economic implications for their members.

The Council of Forest Industries, representing the province’s biggest logging, lumber and pulp and paper operations, warned of an impending economic apocalypse in which 18,000 workers would lose their jobs, while skirting around the tens of thousands of industry jobs already lost.

And environmental leaders noted that many tracts of old growth remained unprotected and would likely be logged even more intensely as the government took the next couple of years to decide whether or not the proposed deferral areas would actually receive formal protection.

All of this was predictable, and all of it largely ignored the elephant in the room.

What the deferral decision underscored is the abominable point to which this government and governments before it have brought us.

Successive provincial governments actively encouraged the logging industry, which is dominated by a few very powerful companies, to cut down more and more forest without any coherent plan for how healthy, resilient ecosystems — which are the bedrock of healthy communities — were to be maintained.

Perpetuating logging rates that anyone with an iota of common sense knew could not go on was guaranteed to have brutal consequences, including old-growth forests so fragmented from logging that they are no longer capable of supporting caribou and vibrant songbird populations; community watersheds where once-clean drinking water has turned to mud; drastically reduced or eradicated salmon stocks; and 41,000 direct jobs lost in the forest industry in just 20 years.

Counting the Job Cost of Halting Old-Growth Logging

By Andrew MacLeod - The Tyee, November 10, 2021

The province says 4,500, industry says 18,000. Critics say government has left too many unanswered questions.

The BC Council of Forest Industries and the United Steelworkers union say protecting old-growth forests could cost four times as many jobs as the government is predicting.

But whatever the actual number, any decline in employment will be part of a long-term trend that has seen fewer people working in the sector even as the volume of trees logged each year remained steady.

Last week Katrine Conroy, the minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, announced the B.C. government plans to defer logging 2.6 million hectares of the most at-risk old-growth forests in the province for two years while it discusses possible permanent protection with the Indigenous nations whose territories the forests are on.

Conroy said the ministry estimates up to 4,500 jobs could be affected and promised a suite of programs aimed at helping workers and their families transition to other work.

The Council of Forest Industries, however, believed the government’s estimate is far too low.

“Our initial analysis indicates that these deferrals would result in the closure of between 14 and 20 sawmills in B.C., along with two pulp mills and an undetermined number of value-added manufacturing facilities,” Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO of the council, said in a statement released Nov. 2.

That translates to about 18,000 “good, family-supporting jobs lost” and about a $400-million reduction in government revenue each year, she said.

A day later the United Steelworkers, the union representing about 12,000 of B.C.’s forestry workers, put out a statement backing COFI’s figures over the government’s.

“If even half of the 2.6 million hectares identified by the government are removed, jobs will be lost as multiple sawmills, value-added operations and pulp mills close permanently,” it quoted USW Wood Council Chair Jeff Bromley.

“In the past three years, eight operations with USW workers across B.C. closed and 1,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs were lost,” he continued. “The impact from this process will almost certainly multiply across the province.”

For comparison, there were nearly 2.7 million people employed in all sectors in B.C. in October. B.C. added 10,400 jobs in October according to the Labour Force Survey numbers StatsCan released last week.

Songs About and by Judi Bari at the Mendocino County Museum, Remembering Judi Bari Exhibit

Over Fifty Organizations Release Green New Deal Plan for Pacific Northwest Forests

By Dylan Plummer - Cascadia Wildlands, June 9, 2021

Today, dozens of forest and climate justice organizations across northern California, Oregon, and Washington released a sweeping Green New Deal for Pacific Northwest Forests platform calling for the transformation of current forest practices on private, state, and federal land in the face of the climate crisis and ecological collapse. The platform emphasizes the critical role that the forests of the Pacific Northwest must play in efforts to mitigate climate change and to safeguard communities from climate impacts such as wildfire and drought. The six pillars of the Green New Deal for Pacific Northwest Forests address the intersecting issues of industrial logging, climate change, species collapse, economic injustice and the disempowerment of frontline communities.

Matt Stevenson, a high-schooler, and the leader of the Forest Team of Sunrise Movement PDX, a youth organization focused on climate justice, said:

As a high schooler, I have grown up without much hope for my future, and with the knowledge that my generation may inherit a broken and desolate earth. Industrial forestry practices and the timber industry is one of the largest causes of this hopelessness, one of the leading destructive forces of the Pacific Northwest, and the single largest carbon emitter in Oregon. If I, or my generation, wants any hope of a liveable future we must fundamentally transform the way we treat our forests.

Status quo B.C. Budget 2021 neglects old growth forests

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, April 21, 2021

The government of British Columbia tabled its 2021 Budget on April 20, including topical Backgrounders such as Preparing B.C. for a Greener Recovery, which states that “Budget 2021 investments brings the total funding for CleanBC to nearly $2.2 billion over five years.” Also highly relevant, “Investing in B.C. Now for a Stronger Economic Recovery”, which summarizes skills training, infrastructure, and youth employment investments. Reaction to the Budget from climate advocates could be described as general disappointment- for example, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C. Office reacting with “BC Budget 2021: Stay-the-course budget misses the mark on key areas of urgency outside health”; The Pembina Institute with “B.C. budget takes small steps toward clean economy goals”, and Clean Energy Canada with “B.C. budget builds on its climate and economic plan, but could do more to seize net-zero opportunity” . The Tyee provides a good summary and compiles reactions from environmental groups and labour unions here.

The greatest disappointment of all in the B.C. Budget relates to lack of action to protect Old Growth Forests, summarized by The Tyee in “No New Money for Old Growth Protection in BC’s Budget”. The spokesperson from the Wilderness Committee is quoted as saying that the Budget “absolutely shatters” any hopes that province is taking changes to forest industry seriously. (Budget allocation to the Ministry of Forests is actually cut). This, despite the active blockade on at Fairy Creek, Vancouver Island, recent expert reports, and a Vancouver Sun Opinion piece by co-authors Andrea Inness (a campaigner at the Ancient Forest Alliance) and Gary Fiege ( president of the Public and Private Workers of Canada, formerly the Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada) who wrote, “We can protect old growth forests and forestry jobs at the same time”. They call for the government to live up to their promise to implement the recommendations of their own Strategic Review

Forest management has a long history of conflict in British Columbia – with the CCPA’s Ben Parfitt a long-standing expert voice who continues to document the issues – most recently in “Burning our Way to a new Climate”. Another good overview appears in a 2018 article in The Narwhal, “25 Years after the War in the Woods: Why B.C.’s forests are still in crisis“. The WCR summarized the recent situation in March. For more on the current Old Growth protests: An Explainer by Capital Daily in Victoria details the Fairy Creek Blockade, underway since the Summer of 2020 and continuing despite an injunction against the protestors upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court on April 1. The Tyee also produced a special report, The Blockaders on March 25, which compares the current Fairy Creek Blockade to the 1993 protests in the Clayoquot Sound, where 900 people were arrested in one of Canada’s largest acts of civil disobedience- known as the “War in the Woods”. (This updates an September 2020 3-part series about that history, Part 1 ; Part 2; and Part 3) .

Is Labor Green? A Cross-National Panel Analysis of Unionization and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

By Camila Huerta Alvarez, Julius McGee, and Richard York - Nature and Culture, March 1, 2019

In this article, we assess whether unionization of national workforces influences growth in national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita. Political-economic theories in environmental sociology propose that labor unions have the potential to affect environmental conditions. Yet, few studies have quantitatively assessed the influence of unionization on environmental outcomes using cross-national data. We estimate multilevel regression models using data on OECD member nations from 1970 to 2014. Results from our analysis indicate that unionization, measured as the percentage of workers who are union members, is negatively associated with CO2 emissions per capita, even when controlling for labor conditions. This finding suggests that unionization may promote environmental protection at the national level

Read the text (PDF).

Fight the Fire: Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs

By Jonathan Neale - The Ecologist, January 2021

As I write, we are in the midst of a global pandemic which reveals every kind of cruelty and inequality. Worse is to come. We are entering into a global recession and mass unemployment. Looming beyond that is the threat of runaway climate change. But this is also a moment in history. It may be possible, now, to halt the onward rush of climate breakdown.
A door is opening. In every country in the world, a great debate is beginning. The question is, what can be done about the economy? In every country, one answer will be that the government must give vast sums of money to banks, hedge funds, oil companies, airlines, corporations and the rich. And that the government must pay for all this by cutting hospitals, education, welfare and pensions.

The other answer will be that we must spend vast sums of money to create new jobs, build a proper healthcare system, meet human needs and stop climate change.

Who do we rescue? Their banks and their corporations, or our people and our planet?

The answer in favour of helping people, not the rich, is called a “Green New Deal”. The idea of a Green New Deal has been around for a decade in many countries. But the decisive moment came in 2017, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the United States decided to back a Green New Deal. That resonated widely. As we entered the pandemic, that idea was already there.

But those three little words, Green New Deal, can mean everything, anything and nothing. We want one particular kind of deal. The words need to mean something real and particular if the deal is to make a difference.

Read the text (link).

Jobs in a net-zero emissions future in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Catherine Saget, Adrien Vogt-Schilb, and Trang Luu - International Labor Organization, July 29, 2020

A green and inclusive recovery is essential to help confront the climate crisis and build a better future. If we do not act now, the same vulnerabilities that exposed workers and enterprises to the pandemic will expose them to the climate crisis. The ILO estimates that 2.5 million Latin American and Caribbean jobs could be lost to heat stress alone by 2030, affecting particularly outdoor workers in construction and agriculture, and street vendors. The IDB projects that by 2050, climate change damages could cost US$ 100 billion annually to the region.

But the future is not set in stone. As the global economy gradually restarts following the COVID-19 lockdown, now is the time to craft a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future. Progress is already being made. The IDB is working with countries to create strategies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The ILO is also helping countries, their workers and enterprises prepare for the consequences on domestic labor markets. In recent years, with Getting to Net-Zero Emissions and Greening with Jobs, our institutions have shown that a green economy comes with job creation and other development benefits.

For this report, we have joined forces to identify where jobs can be created in Latin America and the Caribbean while transitioning to net-zero emissions. We have found impressive potential in sustainable agriculture, and in other sectors including forestry, renewable energy, construction, and manufacturing. This collaborative effort is the first to document how shifting to healthier and more sustainable diets, which reduce meat consumption while increasing plant-based foods, would create jobs while reducing pressure on the region’s unique biodiversity.

Read the text (Link).

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