The Pseudo-Scientific Nonsense About Our Air Has To Stop

By July 17, 2014Issues, Mike Archer

By Mike Archer. Patricia Ross and Sharon Gaetz have to stop using public money to convince us of things which simply aren’t true. Both of them seem to rely on carefully crafted reputations as environmentalists rather than facts or science to make decisions and pronouncements on matters which some people take seriously and think are important.

For years both politicians have been fighting the paper tiger of Vancouver’s attempts to reduce its garbage output by using a state of the art incinerator to convert it to energy instead of trucking it in diesel-fume-spewing double semi-trailers through the Fraser Valley airshed.

Those trucks are contributing significantly to the largest part of any perceived air quality threat, and a Waste to Energy incinerator would eliminate the need for their daily contribution of greenhouse gases to the Fraser Valley airshed. The examples being used by these pseudo-environmentalists in their mindless battle over an issue about which they repeatedly prove they know very little, are sometimes pure fabrication.

Air QualityTo Whit: Wednesday morning the City of Chilliwack posted on its Facebook page a photo of, what appears to be the current haze in the air in the Fraser Valley with the statement ‘Sadly the air quality advisory is still in effect.’

The City did take the added step, which has been notably lacking from much of the FVRD’s public information on the air quality issue, and provided some advice on how residents can protect themselves during an air quality warning.

So far, so good. But look at the photo.

The photo demonstrates a phenomenon which has been around since Fraser Valley politicians and settlers drained Sumas Lake, displacing thousands of First Nations people who used the lake for food and provisions, and made way for the large scale agriculture of today.

It exists in other parts of the west coast and around the world where mountain valleys trap weather systems filled with salt air, blowing off the ocean and over land with intensive agricultural practices and massive use of animal manure on the land.

Sharon Gaetz

Sharon Gaetz

For the record: the haze pictured in the City of Chilliwack Facebook post is caused by the agricultural sector. That fact has been well-documented and conveniently left out of any discussion of air quality matters by the FVRD or the City of Chilliwack.

The use of a photo of the white haze in the Fraser Valley is completely inappropriate and appears to indicate that the haze we witness every summer during an inversion is somehow related to the issues Ross and Gaetz are fighting about air quality in order to further their political careers.

And why is the word ‘sad’ used to describe an air quality alert. Is it sad because the farmers who cause the haze seem to be getting away with murder? Because that’s who’s causing the haze in the photo you published.

That’s right – chicken manure and urine, manure from pigs and cattle, spread all over our fields, and yes, cow farts from some of the massive herds in the Valley, mixed with the salt air from the ocean create a white haze which has little or nothing to do with the pollutants, which are also trapped, about which the alert was issued. The level of pollutants is, in fact, made worse by the semi-trailers full of garbage driving through the Valley to a landfill in the interior which uses John Les as its paid lobbiest to fight Metro’s planned incinerator.

Along with Ross and Gaetz, Les is fighting Vancouver’s plan to reduce its waste footprint and stop trucking the stuff up the interior by converting it to electricity. If they are successful in killing Metro’s Waste to Energy plans, it will lead to a continuation of the daily addition of diesel fumes to the Fraser Valley airshed by those garbage trucks on their way to that interior landfill site helping to cause those air quality advisories.

The FVRD's legacy of environmental degradation of pristine forests and environmentally protected land is astounding under the stewardship of John Les, Patricia Ross and Sharon Gaetz. Perhaps that may have something to do with 'smoke and mirrors' being used in their battles on behalf of Fraser Valley air.

The FVRD’s legacy of environmental degradation of pristine forests and environmentally protected land is astounding under the stewardship of John Les, Patricia Ross and Sharon Gaetz. Perhaps that may have something to do with ‘smoke and mirrors’ being used in their battles on behalf of Fraser Valley air.

Neither Ross nor Gaetz seem to have a clue what they are talking about on this issue nor the results of their rhetoric could lead too. The legitimate concerns some residents have about some of the extremely low levels of some pretty dangerous pollutants which may be sent into the air by an incinerator are getting lost in all the pseudo-science and public relations BS emanating from the City of Chilliwack and the FVRD.

Why does the environmental movement come out to vote for either Ross or Gaetz despite their apparent lack of understanding of the issues to which they devote so much public time and money? Is it because they feel that someone has to do something about the environment and these two clowns are all we’ve got?

Using bogus science, poorly-researched arguments and photos which show something entirely different from the intended message sends a completely false message to the public, and is simply unacceptable. It is also damaging to the environmental movement.

We’ve been fed this pablum for years and it has to stop.

This is what the dust from the Lake Errock Gravel mine, across the river from Abbotsford, looks like on a sunny day. Can John Les, Patricia Ross or Sharon Gaetz explain why they supported this haze?

This is what the dust from the Lake Errock Gravel mine, across the river from Abbotsford, looks like on a sunny day. Can John Les, Patricia Ross or Sharon Gaetz explain why they supported this haze?

Stop helping the environmentalists … Please

How are environmentalists ever going to be taken seriously with these two acting on their behalf?

Both politicians have terrible track records on environmental issues. Both have sat idly by as Chair(s) of the FVRD and allowed the gravel industry to destroy large tracts of Sumas mountain and many pristine and endangered environmental areas throughout the Fraser Valley.

The air in the Valley might actually be cleaner and the local environment might have a better chance of defending itself naturally if Ross and Gaetz hadn’t acquiesced in the denuding of so much pristine forest from the valley floor and Sumas Mountain which might help filter some of the agricultural fumes and car exhaust which their method of building cities entails.

Gaetz, together with her entire council, participated in what amounts to a secret, cloak and dagger attempt to sneak a toxic waste facility into Chilliwack just metres away from a nature reserve and the Fraser River.

Patricia Ross

Patricia Ross

As a councillor who is supposed to represent the interests of Abbotsford citiznes who live downriver from Gaetz’s toxic waste facility, Ross has not said a word in public to object to Gaetz’s project or protect  the property owners of Abbotsford who will bear the brunt of any toxic spills.

Residents, citizens and taxpayers deserve to be treated with more respect than that with which they are being treated on this issue by either politician.

If either of them had any backbone or were interested in the publishing truth instead of manufacturing a reality which conveniently conforms to their ambitions, the headlines on the press releases and on the City of Chilliwack’s attempts at social media would read something like this:

Farmers Responsible For Ruining Sunny Days In The Valley

Or maybe …

Fraser Valley Politicians Keep Building Auto-Dependent Communities Ruining Their Own Airshed

Or how about …

Fraser Valley Politicians Use Public Money And Time To Deflect From Horrible Record On The Environment By Focusing Voters Attention Elsewhere

A lot of people believe that Ross’ and Gaetz’s hearts are in the right place. But neither Ross nor Gaetz seem to have a clue what a complex issue they are dealing with and their puerile manner of dealing with the challenges facing the Fraser Valley airshed do a disservice to serious environmentalists and people who are trying to actually do something about those challenges.

If it is the white haze you are fighting, talk to the farmers who create it. If you want to talk about the challenges facing the Fraser Valley airshed, develop some respect for your constituents and stop using such childish and ill-informed tactics.

How is anyone at the GVRD or in the public of the Fraser Valley supposed to take either the FVRD, or the City of Chilliwack seriously in their arguments over Waste to Energy and the proposed incinerator if this is the kind of opposition they are running into.

Do some research. Stop using every dumb idea that comes up in order to fight Metro in the media and focus on the science which actually backs up your case. If you can show that the minute amount of dangerous chemicals which will emanate from the proposed incinerator will be a verifiable threat to the citizens of the Fraser Valley (and they may be) then say so, prove it and fight like hell to protect us. Stop minimizing the ability for people to take your position seriously by the use of such ridiculous tactics.

How do you think you are going to look if you win and everybody looks around to realize that, despite all of your efforts, we still have a white haze on sunny summer days? How will you answer people’s questions about your tactics then?


The Research:

Research, Sources and Background:
We did what we could to provide as many useful links for those who want to look into the matter further. Some general research links are provided below as well as the research provided by both sides in this very political debate.

Agriculture fuels the Valley’s white smog

– 2001 Environment Canada Air Quality Study Lower Mainland Airshed

Douw Steyn 
– Douw Steyn
– Funding canceled

Ryley Landfill

Critique of Waste To Energy Proposals:Incinerators – Waste-to-Energy Proposals in the Watershed Sentinel by Joyce Nelson.

Fraser Valley Regional District Research:
– Consolidated FV Management Plan 1998 PDF
– Best Management Practices and emission inventory of agricultural sources in the Lower Fraser Valley
– State of the air Reports
– Dr Ian Mckendry Report-Air Quality in the Fraser Valley
– Particulate Emissions and Health – Prf C. Vyvyan Howarrd

Metro Vancouver Research:
– Solid Waste Planning
– Landfill Evaluation 2008 PDF
– Implementation Matrix PDF
– Solid Waste Management Full Report PDF
– Draft Solid Waste Implementation Plan 2010 PDF

– RWDI Air Inc. (2009) CMAQ Modelling of Possible Solid Waste Management Scenarios.

– Metro Vancouver (2013) 2013 Caring for Air Report

– Metro Vancouver (2013) 2010 Lower Fraser Valley Air Emissions Inventory and Forecast and Backcast.

– Metro Vancouver (2010) Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan

– AECOM Canada Ltd. (2009) Management of Municipal Solid Waste in Metro Vancouver – A Comparative Analysis of Options for Management of Waste after Recycling.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Observation says:

    Patricia Ross and Sharon Gaetz are sweet talking propaganda spreading pseudo environmentalists. If the Fraser Valley were such a poor place to live then how come they made BC’s top ten cities to invest by the Real Estate Investment Network? Gaetz herself tweeted a shout out to Chilliwack on what a great place it is to live when the survey was released.

    Furthermore, both Ross and Gaetz are being led by the news by pseudo environmental bureaucrats at the FVRD and a less than inept CAO, who behaves as an excitable puppy who finally gets to play with those he perceives to be the “big dogs”.

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