Whether you agree with Avatar director James Cameron or not, it is good to see him spending time trying the understand the issues related to the explorations of Alberta oilsands. Lately, there has been much media attention and some misunderstanding of the benefits and challenges.
It will be a serious miscalculation for the Alberta and Canadian governments to not take Cameron‘s concerns seriously as he is smart, has the abilities to study hard problems and push for advances (scientific deep sea explorations, special effects, 3D filmmaking, etc) and most important but possibly overlooked by some is that he is one great storyteller that can shape and change people’s minds.
Here are some news stories,
– Oilsands need more regulation: Cameron, CBC News with videos
– Q&A: Avatar Director James Cameron on Oil Sands and Environmentalism, TIME magazine
– Cameron vows to watch over oilsands, Toronto Sun. Here is a very telling quote,
“”I know sometimes Hollywood people get accused of drive-by environmentalism,” Cameron said Wednesday at an Edmonton news conference with aboriginal leaders, and the tail end of a three day visit to Alberta.
“This is a lifelong commitment for me at this point.
“I was active in environmental causes and energy policy and so on before Avatar, it’s 10 times that now.
“Now it’s personal. So many people have approached me for help.”
While Cameron described the oilsands as an important resource, he said it’s also critical to look at “the fallout from this.””
– Premier Ed Stelmach dismisses James Cameron’s oilsands critique, Calgary Herald. Here is a telling quote (emphasis and comments added),
With Alberta’s oilsands in the spotlight like never before, Premier Ed Stelmach said Wednesday “quiet diplomacy” is the province’s best counter to negative publicity — rejecting a Hollywood director’s warnings the resource could become “a curse.”” [Kempton’s note: “Quiet diplomacy”? Sadly, I am not sure if Premier Stelmach is getting the seriousness of what Cameron can and will do. I am afraid Premier Stelmach and his advisers really have no idea of how far and how determined Cameron was for him to get Titanic and Avatar done and be as successful as they were. As a proud Albertan, I think Premier Stelmach really need a rethink/change of mind and get some serious help. Not to “battle” Cameron, but take the concerns posted by Cameron and others serious and have answers or have plans to address the concerns.]
– ‘Avatar’ director Cameron now in the Alberta tarsands picture, MarketWatch
– Cameron pledges help ‘until it’s fixed’ – Movie director commits legal, financial support to aboriginals, Calgary Herald. Here is an excerpt (emphasis and comments added),
“When asked after the meetings what his long-term commitment to the issue was, Cameron said: “Until it’s fixed.” He said he’ll do what it takes. [Kempton’s note: There, coming from Cameron, are not empty words. Cameron is not the types that will randomly say stuff for the publicity and then forget about his promises. Time will tell.]
“The next step is get to the problem, talk to the premier about it tomorrow, talk to government about it tomorrow and then follow up. Follow up with the non-profits, follow up with the leaders that came with me today and with the leaders here in Fort Chip and just stay on it.””
– Cameron is gone, but the battle is just beginning, Don Braid, Calgary Herald
– Cameron admits awe at scale of Alberta oilsands operations – Province made its green points, Renner says, Calgary Herald. Here is an excerpt (emphasis and comments added),
“Outfitted in a green hardhat, fluorescent vest and rubber boots, Cameron said he had not yet formed any firm conclusions on his “fact-finding mission” about the oilsands. His initial plan was to have conducted his visit more “stealthily,” but the increased media attention around it has been good because it has given people in the region, including aboriginal groups, the opportunity to have their perspectives heard on a wide stage, he said.
“I’m still in sponge mode, finding out how all this works and getting my arms around it, conceptually,” he said over the background sound of noise cannons, which fire every so often to scare birds away from the tailings ponds. [Kempton’s note: “sponge mode”]
“The reclamation task is on the one hand quite daunting, and on the other hand absolutely necessary.””
– Avatar’s Cameron doesn’t slag oilsands – Sounding at times like a cabinet minister, director gives measured response, Edmonton Journal. Here is a telling excerpt (emphasis added),
“Cameron talked for 30 engaging minutes without notes or a teleprompter, proving he knows this topic better than many cabinet ministers and he hit all the important issues without sounding like he was giving Albertans a lecture.
He politely argued for a moratorium on any new open-pit mines or new tailings ponds. He believes the future of the oilsands lies with an experimental method of in situ mining where bitumen is extracted by injecting relatively cold solvents — not heated water — underground. At times he sounded like a Syncrude executive.
Afterwards, in a sit down interview with The Journal, Cameron acknowledged his black eye comment last April was “ill-informed” and this trip has changed his opinion: “I understand one thing clearly that I didn’t understand before, the upside of this thing is enormous, financially. That gives me a little bit of hope. It also scares the hell out of me because it means we’re going to stampede after those profits as fast as possible.”
Not a black eye now, perhaps, but it could be: “It has the capacity to be the biggest black eye in Canadian history or it’s got the capacity to be a place in which Alberta and Canada rise to a challenge and show leadership.”
What difference will this make to the oilsands? Not much if Premier Ed Stelmach’s defensive comments are any indication: “We are doing our part to move the world toward a clean energy future.””
– Q&A – James Cameron talks oil sands with the Globe, Globe and Mail
– Collective shrug greets Hollywood mogul – Fort McMurray residents skeptical of what will come of James Cameron’s visit, Edmonton Journal.