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magazine / jun09

June 2009 issue

Hydroelectric development in Bute Inlet

The green gold rush
Modern-day prospectors are banking on a hydroelectric development in British Columbia’s Bute Inlet, but debate over the project’s environmental impact is exposing a deep schism over the province’s crucial next step
Excerpt of story by Terry Glavin with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

When Wall Street collapsed into a hair-raising mortgage crisis last year, the world’s investment banks started toppling like dominoes, and now the global economy is in the midst of a wave of horrible shudders and contractions. The planet’s temperature, meanwhile, is lurching upward. These are not the best of times.


Environmental progress has come to be seen as a luxury we can afford only when times are good: smelter owners build better smokestacks, automakers manufacture more fuel-efficient cars, people have the bucks to buy them, and so on. But this time is different.

While vast government bailouts are rushing in to staunch the bleeding where free-market forces have failed, enormous volumes of private capital are funding the race toward a new “green power” global economy, aided by at least US$400 billion in government investment around the world. There’s real environmental progress — and opportunity — out there.

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