Fletcher: U.S. celebrities are not purveyors of scientific fact

I would have liked to learn more about what a mermaid and an Incredible Hulk really believe about the North American oil industry.

There was palpable disappointment among reporters when Greenpeace organizers clarified that U.S. actors Daryl Hannah and Mark Ruffalo weren’t actually going to join the sit-in against heavy oil pipeline proposals at the B.C. legislature on Monday.

I was disappointed too. I would have liked to learn more about what a washed-up mermaid and an easily confused Incredible Hulk really believe about the North American oil industry. In the spirit of celebrity slacktivism, both sent statements of support.

To be fair, Ruffalo may still be busy searching for the “truth” about 9/11. In 2007 he declared that the official U.S. government report on the terrorist attacks was “completely illegitimate” because “buildings don’t fall down like that.” I wonder what the relatives of those aboard the hijacked airliners think of him.

Hannah has had lots of free time since starring in the 1984 mermaid fantasy film Splash. Now she’s mostly famous for getting arrested, and she did so again in Texas on Oct. 3, standing in front of earthmoving equipment building the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline.

It’s worth noting that the project Hannah tried to stop has the support of the Barack Obama administration. The southern section from Cushing, Oklahoma oil storage facilities to Texas refineries is indeed being built by the sinister foreign TransCanada Corp., but it doesn’t carry the dreaded Canadian “tar sands” oil that eco-celebrities are convinced will end life on Earth as we know it.

It’s the northern section that Obama has temporarily opposed, after fervent demonstrations such as the one in Washington DC where Hannah’s first celebrity arrest occurred in 2011.

At that time, Hannah recited the familiar talking points of the U.S. environmentalists who exclusively target Alberta. In a new book, oil sands pioneer and Suncor founder Rick George dissects Hannah’s claims, and asks why they were reported so widely and uncritically.

Hannah claimed “the contribution to the carbon in the atmosphere is unprecedented.” George cites a Royal Society of Canada report that concludes the entire oil sands operation is responsible for five per cent of Canadian emissions. Fossil-fuelled electricity generation is 16 per cent of Canada’s total. Vehicles and other transportation account for 27 per cent.

“How does the oil sands contribution possibly qualify as unprecedented?” George asks.

Another Hannah quote: “I’ve been hearing about how many people have cancer that live downstream from the tar sands project.” Canadians heard that too, thanks in large part to an alarmist CBC documentary by David Suzuki featuring jet-set movie director James Cameron.

George describes how this allegation was made in 2006 by a doctor who claimed a cluster of rare bile cancer cases in the remote village of Fort Chipewyan, and blamed it on oil sands mining. Headlines blared around the world.

George details the Alberta Health Services study that followed, identifying three such cases in 12 years. Statistically higher, yes. A general risk, no. Other types of cancer in Fort Chip were lower than the general population.

This finding was endorsed by Australian, New Zealand, U.S. and Canadian researchers. The doctor who diagnosed the original bile cancers admitted: “These results were based on a small number of cases—there is no cause for alarm.”

Was this news trumpeted around the world? You can guess the answer.

My point here isn’t to make fun of ill-informed celebrities. It’s to counteract the fawning, scientifically ignorant coverage they are routinely given by the mainstream media.

And I’m not promoting the oil sands or pipelines. I’m saying they should be considered based on facts, not foolishness.

Just Posted

UBCO Heat teams unable to secure any wins against Mount Royal Cougars

The mens and womens volleyball and basketball teams went 0-4, but all have rematches Saturday night

Rockets held scoreless in loss against Red Deer

Rockets will look for some points in final game of road trip against Edmonton

New maintenance crew to look after Okanagan Connector

Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. will replace Argo Road Maintenance Inc. in 2019

New Lake Country arts council to request funds from district

The arts council will ask the district for $8,000 from 2019 to 2021

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Hodge: The long road to recovery

Kelowna - The first week of recovery I was too consumed in pain to notice the lack of fluid.

LETTER: Plea from a Kelowna school bus driver to slow down

‘I am proud to be a school bus driver…’

Letter: Election loss in Kelowna blamed on racism

For decades I have written in the local press about racism.

Most Read