April 29, 2010

Cameron to visit oilsands?

Avatar director James Cameron wants to see oilsands for himself, former native leader says

By Trish AudetteAvatar director James Cameron may just take the Alberta government up on its invitation to visit the oilsands, a former First Nations leader said Sunday. “He actually suggested that he should be coming up there himself,” said George Poitras, a former chief of the Mikisew Cree. “He’s a Canadian, he knows the tarsands are an international issue. . . . He’s just generally interested.” Poitras was in New York on the weekend to attend the United Nations permanent forum on indigenous issues. He met with Cameron on Saturday morning, then joined him in a panel discussion later in the day. Last week, Cameron—who was born in Canada—made headlines when he said Alberta’s oilsands development is a “black eye” on the country’s environmental record. He suggested more emphasis be placed on the development of alternative energy, such as wind power.Avatar director James Cameron may snag invite to Canada's 'black eye':  the oilsandsThe Alberta government said Wednesday it has not extended an invitation to Oscar-winning director James Cameron to visit the province's oilsands, although if he wants to learn more about the project, that might change.

"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."
Comment:  I must've read 100 or more articles on Avatar. I haven't seen one that said it's an allegory for Alberta's oilsands.

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)

1 comment:

Rob said...

An update on this story:


James Cameron to check out Alberta oilsands


James Cameron to visit tar sands