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Who is Tim Takaro? Why is he in a tree?

Dr. Takaro is suspended 25 metres up to stop the TMX pipeline expansion
By: 
Zain ul Haq

August 9, 2020

Dr. Tim Takaro has made the news as the “Vancouver physician” who has occupied some trees in New Westminster in order to prevent the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. However, Tim is a lot more than a physician who has decided to climb a tree.

Professor Takaro has dedicated his career to study the impact of climate change and its health related effects on humans, he has a deep understanding of the data, but is also connected to the climate crisis on a personal and emotional level. He embodies the necessary combination of attitudes and knowledge on this issue that would convince someone to recognize just how serious the threat of mass starvation, crop failure and human extinction is. He describes himself as “a public health physician who has been studying and working on policy regarding the health impacts of climate change for nearly 30 years. This threat has compelled me to put my body on the line to prevent construction of this climate killing project.”

Many people understand the science and the serious nature of the climate crisis. However, many of us fail to grasp its scale and consequences on an emotional level, and ultimately, it is that that will ultimately compel people to take appropriate action to pressure governments, and Tim gets it, which is why he is risking arrest.

Urgent

We should be on track for having general strikes and pressure governments in that manner, however, we unfortunately lack the infrastructure of high unionization rates and a revolutionary mass workers party that can organize a national and international climate movement centered on the overthrow of our economic system for something resembling a workplace democracy. Until this happens, the next best thing is mass civil disobedience, and it works, or at least it has in the past.

Banners near the enterance to the Brunette Conservation area

“In choosing civil disobedience to block construction of TMX I am choosing a far lesser crime than that perpetrated by Prime Minister Trudeau, who continues to back this project,” said Dr. Takaro. “In addition to the direct health risks of the project, I am considering the future of my children, their children and future generations around the world. No short-term economic benefit can out-weigh this risk. This is the right fight, in the right place, at the right time to firmly turn Canadian energy policy towards the planet’s sustainable future.”

Why is Dr. Takaro living up in these particular trees? And why now? This stretch of the pipeline construction will require the destruction of part of the Brunette River conservation area in New Westminster, BC. The Brunette river was destroyed by industry and has only been cleaned up again over the last couple of decades. Salmon have returned to the river, a rarity in the densely populated area around Vancouver.

The construction of this stretch of the pipeline can only be done during a window that stretches from August 1 to September 15. This window is due to “environmental regulations” as it’s called in order to protect the fish in the area. The irony here is that the destruction of trees and the other disruption due to the pipeline will endanger this salmon stream no matter what time of year happens. The inevitable spill somewhere along the route that will cross over 1,300 streams and rivers will almost certainly destroy one of them. This expansion also risks a massive tanker spill as it more than triples the number of oil tankers travelling in and out of the Burrard inlet.

Delay

The plan is to delay construction during this period so that the expansion into that area is delayed by quite a few months and hopefully a year, to give us all more time to stop this disgraceful project. The lack of willingness and commitment on part of lawmakers’ shows us how our democratic process under capitalism is captured by business interests, rather than vigorous debate and democratic deliberation.

Here, we see a failure of our media and news institutions who are infamously beholden to either private power or state power that is captured by that private power. Every article and report on this topic begins with the words “Despite 5 court rulings protesters are….” as if the climate could care about the Canadian courts. As millions of people are starved to death as a result of such actions in the world, nature, as we all know, will not hesitate or worry about an injunction. Journalists should start listening to their conscience.

The cops and the RCMP have been patrolling the area, concerned for private and state property, as their jobs require. We already know a great deal about the illegitimate nature of the police force, not least because of the world wide Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the last few months. If we disband the police, who will oil corporations turn to to defend their planet killing projects?

Join

So far, Extinction Rebellion has organized a protest that took place Wednesday, August 5, to attract media attention and attract attention to the site where Tim is residing. The demonstration was successful and the maximum amount of 50 people under Covid attended, with masks on, and were 6 feet apart. There is camp set up in the forest where Tim is staying, in order to show support and protect the forest, however, there will be more people needed in the coming weeks. There is a satellite camp set up at Lower Hume Park, near the forest, with the hope that people will show up and start camping out in solidarity, especially if they are not comfortable camping out in the forest. To show your support, drop by Lower Hume Park for direction to the camp by the river. There will be more actions in the coming weeks.

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