By Trish Audette
"I suppose it's possible," said Jason Cobb, a spokesman for Alberta Environment, when asked about an invitation. "We'll have to see how it goes."
Cameron, whose 3-D blockbuster Avatar deals with a fictional planet being destroyed in the mining of "unobtanium," is widely seen as an allegory on the oilsands.
The Canadian-born filmmaker and environmental activist said he hoped to learn more about bitumen operations this weekend when meeting with the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. He called the oilsands a "black eye" for Canada while in Toronto to promote the release of his film on Blue Ray.
Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert shrugged off the criticism. Asked if anyone should care about Cameron's comments, the energy minister said, "You might, but I don't."
A photo caption says the "bleak opening scenes are thought to be inspired by oilsands mining operations." The opening scenes--not the entire movie--is a bit more plausible.
It's great that Cameron is getting so involved in environmental issues. But I have to wonder about his methods. Is visiting places one by one--so he can see them himself--really the best use of his time? Is he saying he won't tackle any problem until he's personally investigated it?
If I were a billionaire celebrity who wanted to tackle environmental problems, I'd probably start a foundation. Or take over an existing one. I'd hire a staff to identify the most critical environmental problems. Then I'd send experts to identify and address the problems along with journalists to cover them. Maybe an actor or a filmmaker or both to leverage Cameron's fame and interest the American media.
Call them "Avatar Response Teams" or something similar, of course. Just like in the movie, they're outside representatives inserted into difficult situations. I can see the headlines already: "Cameron Sends Avatars to Stop Ocean Pollution" (or whatever).
This way, he could handle several of the most pressing environmental problems. The combination of scientific resources and celebrity-driven coverage could help resolve some of them. We're already seeing a hint of how this would work. Wherever Cameron goes, publicity seems to follow. Politicians, environmentalists, and the locale's indigenous population vie for his attention.
That's the way to have an effect. Invest your Avatar money in teams to investigate and publicize issues around the world. Multiply your passion tenfold and things will start happening.
For more on the subject, see Cameron Committed to Indigenous Causes and Canada's Avatar Sands.
Below: "Avatar director James Cameron has indicated an interest in visiting Alberta's oilsands." (Chris Schwarz, Edmonton Journal)