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Little Black Lies: Corporate & Political Spin in the Global War for Oil

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“I think [our findings] are significant enough that they should trigger some interest  in a better monitoring program than we have.”

~ Aquatic ecologist Dr. David Schindler, August 30, 2010

My scientists are telling me that the amount of compounds that can be detected in the Athabasca River at this point in time are not a concern and are at insignificant levels.”

~ Alberta Minister of Environment Rob Renner, September 1, 2010

“Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

~ Harry Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University, 2005



Beginning in 1967 and for just over 30 years, the oil industry toiled in the relative obscurity of Northern Alberta as machines peeled away earth and boreal forest to exhume what has now become one of humanity’s most precious and contentious resources: bitumen. As the years passed, the bitumen mines sprawled, poisonous tailings ponds spread, toxins polluted the environment, cancer reared its head  downstream and the price of petroleum soared beyond all expectations.

As expansion continues at breakneck pace, and Big Oil pushes plans to build the Keystone and Northern Gateway pipelines, a growing number of scientists, journalists and environmentalists are fighting to raise the alarm about the implications and propaganda surrounding the world’s largest energy project.

In his second RMB Manifesto, Jeff Gailus dissects the global war on truth that has come to define the battle for oil. It is a battle fought not with bullets and bombs, but with a dark web of Little Black Lies that poses a threat not only to environmental and human health, but to our moral and social well-being.

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The Grizzly Manifesto

Finalist for the 2011 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award

Following in the Great Bears’ footsteps from Yellowstone National Park through the Canadian Rockies to the Muskwa-Kechika wilderness, Jeff Gailus explores the unique biological and political circumstances that make it difficult for grizzly bears and people to share the same landscapes.

Shocking and compassionate, The Grizzly Manifesto provides an insightful look into the complex and sometimes insidious political machinations that will determine the fate of grizzly bears in the North American West.

Today, the front line in this centuries-old battle for survival has shifted to western Alberta and southern BC, where outdated mythologies, rapacious industrial development and disingenuous governments continue to push the Great Bear further into the mountains and toward a future that may not have room for them at all.

Thankfully, there is another kind of movement afoot. Hundreds of scientists and conservationists, along with thousands of citizens that value sustainable development and responsible government, work tirelessly to define a better future for the grizzly bear and all that it represents.

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Original Griz: The Return of the Great Plains Grizzly Bear (2013)

“The rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

~ Mark Twain, on reading his own obituary

In 2004, I received a phone call from Gordon Stenhouse, a biologist with the Foothills Model Forest Grizzly Bear Project in west-central Alberta. Gord was in charge of a large-scale effort to collar dozens of grizzly bear across their current range in Alberta as part of an effort to figure out how many exist and where they might be found.

Ghost of the Great PlainsHe told me of a grizzly bear, G87, he had trapped and collared six kilometers west of Milk River, Alberta, 300 kilometers east of the Rocky Mountains and halfway to the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. It had arrived in Alberta from south of the international border, where the United States government listed them as a threatened species in 1975 and has protected them from hunting and habitat destruction ever since. Like its ancestors, this restless young male had followed a river valley—in this case the Milk—north from the Blackfoot Indian Reservation into Alberta. After being collared near the town of Milk River in June, it remained on the plains until the fall, when it wandered west into the mountains, eventually denning up in November in the South Castle Valley north of Waterton National Park. The next spring, G87 left the mountains and returned to the foothills on the western edge of the Great Plains.

Such a find came as somewhat of a surprise to Gord and many of his colleagues, for Milk River was no longer grizzly country, as least not as we had understood it. To find a grizzly bear so far out on the plains piqued my curiosity and begs us, I think, to reconsider the story we have written for the Plains grizzly. I made a few phone calls, poked around in libraries, searched the Web. A 1975 report written for the Canadian Wildlife Service about the past and present status of Alberta’s plains and boreal grizzly bear populations confirmed that the plains grizzly bear no longer existed in Alberta. But another report written 20 years later provided evidence that seemed to contradict these findings. Written by John Gunson, a wildlife biologist for Alberta’s Natural Resource Service, it was an analysis of all known human-caused grizzly bear mortalities between 1972 and 1994. Over the course of 22 years, more than 100 grizzly bears were killed in places most geographers would consider part of the Great Plains. Surely this indicated that rumours of the Great Plains grizzly bear’s demise were somewhat exaggerated.

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  1. The Illusion of Integrity « Jeff Gailus

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