Hi everyone; this morning at 8:00am, July 14/09, I proceeded to the Denny Island aerodrome, located on Denny Island in the midst of the BC Central Coast archipelago, aka “The Great Bear Rainforest” where I broke open the welded steel cover and dismantled and destroyed a large seismic shot which was slated for blasting in the early morning hours of July 17th, 2009. I took this action alone, without the participation or knowledge of any other person, association or organization. I accept full and sole responsibilty for my action and look forward to the consequences.

And so reads the on line confession of Ingmar Lee, a self professed Earth Warrior operating in Canada. In disarming this explosive device, Lee carried out an act of unmitigated bravery, as well as an act of utter stupidity.

Lee is part of a movement that is trying to stop geologists from mapping granite rock formations along the North American Pacific coast. This research project is aimed at understanding the way material cycles through the earth’s crust and into the mantle as continents drift around, form, and are subducted. The explosive charge Lee dismantled was one of 15 charges that were to be fired off in order to obtain seismic data on a remote Canadian island in British Columbia.

Why is a Save The Earth Warrior trying to stop a relatively esoteric (but I’m sure very interesting and important) geological survey? Because he and his fellow earth warriors are, it would seem, convinced that this is actually a secret oil exploration project. It is, I suppose, possible for geologists to secretly explore for oil, but they say they are not and the type of research being done here and the nature of the local geology very strongly argues against it. One does not generally find oil in granite batholiths.

Now here’s the thing. I don’t generally agree with directly interfering with scientific research. One can object to, lobby against, and criticize scientific research, but wading in and messing up equipment is not OK.

But, if you do want to interfere with scientific research, there are three things that you must do.

1) Be highly focused so that all you are doing is meeting a narrowly defined objective. No collateral damage or causalities;

2) Recognize and do not shy away from the fact that you are carrying out an attack, and an act of civil disobedience, and possibly a felony or two (or three or four). If your objective is to physically harm or kill scientists, then that is OK only if you are willing to be shot on sight. If your objective is to damage equipment be prepared to spend prison time when you get caught, and people generally do get caught. Remember that among those patriots and rebels that you so admire, that have inspired you to carry out such acts, several were hanged for their efforts and went to the gallows quite willingly. So, for convenience, please carry a small identification card with your neck size printed on it in clear block letters, so they can more easily find a noose that fits.

3) Have a rational argument. This is actually the first, not last point. Do not go and ‘rescue’ lab animals by leaving them outside in the elements to die, as happened here at the University of Minnesota a few years back. Do not destroy in process research materials that you have randomly encountered after sneaking past the rent-a-cop at your local college that you do not understand. It is ethically required that you know nearly as much as the person doing the work you are about to destroy does, because if you don’t know that much, how can you honestly be the judge and jury determining the validity of the research? And do not be an utter moron like Ingmar Lee, interfering with a seismic study of granite batholiths because you think the geologists are secretly looking for oil.

I said in the beginning that this was an act of unmitigated bravery on Lee’s part. I was kidding. He snuck up to some unguarded equipment and cut the detonation wire. What the geologists obviously need to do now is to replace their usual detonation system with one of those that are not so easy to disarm, where you have to know exactly what wire to cut, or else… Then let Lee go in with a fifty-fifty chance of “saving the earth” vs. “blowing his ass to bits.”

Source: Dalton, Rex. 2009. Eco-warrior trashes seismic experiment. Nature News Published online 23 July 2009 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.715. Not Open Access so you can’t see it.

Related items: From Graduate School to Prison: What is the rational argument for ELF or ALF? and Dinner at Azia.

Comments

  1. #1 Jadehawk
    July 28, 2009

    *sigh*

    it’s idiots like that that give environmentalism a bad name…

  2. #2 Romeo Vitelli
    July 28, 2009

    Of course, if some future idiot gets blown to bits, then he/she will instantly become a martyr for the cause. Better a live idiot than a dead figurehead.

  3. #3 Jason Thibeault
    July 28, 2009

    Look, I’m sorry. We Canucks aren’t all as intelligent (or handsome) as me.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 28, 2009

    But if there is nothing left, then there is no story.

  5. #5 The Science Pundit
    July 28, 2009

    The best way to slow down or stop oil exploration is to support research into alternative energy sources, not vandalism.

    Also, if this really was secret oil exploration, then we should expect Mr. Lee’s online confession to lead an unfortunate accident at the hands of a super-secret hit squad of ex-Navy Seals contracted by Exxon-Mobil and reporting directly to Dick Cheney (I’ve seen enough movies to know that this is how it works).

  6. #6 OrchidGrowinMan
    July 28, 2009

    I saw this at Pharyngula, and here is my poor, and hurried, attempt to comment on Mr. Lee’s site. I kinda’ doubt it will appear, so I beg your indulgence in submitting it here JIC. I think I have actually made some sense, and perhaps someone here would like to polish and sharpen the ideas….

    KTHXBYE

    Interesting. It sounds like you, Mr. Lee, have been talking to some of the nuttier conspiracy theorists out there. Unfortunately, a heavily catastrophized fantasy about what some project is intended to accomplish, and what the effects will be, is never, ever, accurate. I suggest you educate yourself from sources that are a bit more reputable, reliable and accurate. If you really don’t have an understanding of Geology, I suggest the books “Roadside Geology of Washington” and “Northwest Exposures: A Geologic Story of the Northwest.” You should also familiarize yourself with the pertinent aspects of marine biology, especially recent research on the effects of sound on sea life.

    This all reminds me of the event some years ago when another radical group, afraid that there might be dreaded “Genetic Engineering” going on at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture, destroyed the research project on hybrid poplars that are used for street trees, contamination remediation and sustainable fiber (paper) production, and also obliterated the research on the environmental recovery of the Mount St. Helens blast area, and, worst of all, burned the Horticulture library.

    Random irrational acts of thuggery and destruction do not ever help the image or credibility of people productively working for environmental, social or political good, nor are they worthy of any accolade. The riots in the Muslim world over the publication of some cartoons in Belgium certainly don’t do anything good for the image of that religion, and willy-nilly vandalizing whatever “science” you encounter would best be kept QUIET, not attributed to any part of an environmental cause or movement, because it obviously does more harm than good. Making up some excuse to try to sound like you were acting on some Big Cause doesn’t wash when you are apparently not very familiar with the topic at hand; it just looks like random vandalism borrowing from (and reducing) “The Cause’s” credibility with an inept rationalization, a matter that would best be left to the police and not discussed in the same breath as any real Cause. In fact, you might just as well be in the employ of the “other side” for all the (welcome, I’m sure) help you’ve given them.

  7. #7 Al West
    July 28, 2009

    I have a rather irrational dislike for the kind of young men who do this (generally to look rebellious, courageous and compassionate for the ladies), a dislike which developed when my dad was put on a rather disturbing list by an animal rights group due to his affiliation with Oxford University (which was at the time building a new building for animal experimentation). I don’t think these people think in terms of “rational arguments”. They certainly aren’t in favour of science in general – they’re more likely to be the anti-vaxxers, the post-modern relativists, the acupuncture fans, the anti-modern-medicine crowd. I don’t think there’s much point in arguing with them. They’re in it for the pussy, as far as I can tell.

  8. #8 Azkyroth
    July 28, 2009

    My comment, reproduced at Pharyngula but not at the sniveling little coward’s site:

    This was an amazingly foolish and pointless action. Quite aside from the absurd sense of entitlement involved in this kind of vandalism, I have taken exactly one introductory geology class and even I know that one does not look for oil in granite batholiths. Even assuming that sabotaging oil exploration would be justified, I think it’s incumbent on you to have at least a bright high school student’s level of understanding of what’s going on before acting. As it is, this act of vandalism places you on the same level as the perpetrators of the semi-mythicized incident in Britain where a mob of citizens got the terms “pedophile” and “pediatrician” mixed up and attacked one of the latter. Congratulations.

    While you apparently don’t have much use for knowledge and learning, given your failure to educate yourself on this issue, you have seriously undermined important scientific research aimed at increasing our understanding of the geologic processes and history of the planet (and possibly giving us important information that might be relevant to, for instance, predicting and mitigating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), and imposed a substantial cost on an educational budget that was already hanging by a thread. More important, however, is the damage you’ve done to the environmental movement. After this irrational, ignorant, and criminal attack, you’ve made the job of Big Oil and other companies who consider environmental protection to be an irrevelant pain in the neck much easier. They can cut their advertising budgets and spend them on more ACTUAL oil exploration, since now they have little need to float elaborate lies and mistruths about the environmental impact of their projects and the motivations and justification of their opponents. Instead, all they have to do is point to your crime, tell one simple lie – “This is a typical environmentalist” – and the movement’s credibility is damaged irreparably.

    With friends like you, the earth has no need of enemies. With enemies like you, Big Oil has no need of friends. So, congratulations. I hope whatever momentary satisfaction you got from this action was worth it.

  9. #9 Joshua Zelinsky
    July 28, 2009

    I look forward to seeing this idiot prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  10. #10 VolcanoMan
    July 29, 2009

    Yes, you *could* send him to jail…but I think a better strategy would be to force him to take (and pass) some geology courses. We’re not all evil bastards intent on enabling the destruction of the environment (and our species). In fact, most geologists I know both accept the truth of the anthropogenic climate change arguments (there is a lot of evidence), and are, in some way, contributing to the understanding of the climate system. Actually, the very project that our misguided environmentalist disrupted may provide a key piece of the puzzle as plate tectonics is the most important force in the global change of climate, long-term.

    Of course, for geology courses to have any positive impact on this guy’s life, he would need to develop his rational faculties, which seem wanting. A little information is a dangerous thing for someone with an irrational worldview; for all I know, teaching him geology would allow him to direct his subterfuge at real oil exploration projects, if he isn’t simultaneously taught that the only reason such exploration happens is because there is money and politics involved, and that someone will ALWAYS be there to find and extract the oil if they are paid. To generate real change, you must expose and disable the power structure that allows political decision-making to be bent by those with agendas that put profits over the good of the global community.

  11. #11 Azkyroth
    July 29, 2009

    To generate real change, you must expose and disable the power structure that allows political decision-making to be bent by those with agendas that put profits over the good of the global community.

    Someone ought to point out to him that this power structure does not have a health bar and there is no dramatic music playing.

  12. #12 Janet Holmes
    July 29, 2009

    I’d be very surprised if someone of the mental capacity of this moron could pass a geology course. It is not an easy subject. We were told that a first year geology student had to learn more new vocabulary than a first year French student! To say nothing of the concepts involved. Not for the mentally feeble.

  13. #13 Coemgenus
    July 29, 2009

    Has this self-confessed vandal been arrested for criminal damage yet?

  14. #14 MadScientist
    July 29, 2009

    He saved a few hundred million bacteria from their otherwise guaranteed doom should the charge have been detonated. The soil bacteria praise you, O Wise Earth Warrior! Carry on the fight for bacterial rights!

  15. #15 MadScientist
    July 29, 2009

    @The Science Pundit: As the science investigator pointed out to the self-proclaimed warrior, it cannot possibly be oil exploration because it’s the wrong geology. Oil and gas simply are not found underneath granite; the processes which result in large granite deposits would disrupt and destroy any hydrocarbon reservoirs. So the warrior is obviously not educated.

  16. #16 Just this guy
    July 29, 2009

    Should someone be contacting the RCMP, or is this already in hand?

  17. #17 mark
    July 29, 2009

    No point in this moron taking geology courses–he probably already knows that geologists, along with all other scientists, are part of the Grand Conspiracy. He’s defending his tribe from “attack by the educated and intelligent segment of society.”