In recent years, Canadians have heard a lot about those extremist American conservation foundations. They’ve been called radicals, money-launderers and even compared to Al Qaeda in Canada’s Senate.
More recently, an oil-related group, British Columbians for Prosperity (which bears remarkable similarity to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity), alleges that these foundations are carrying out a really complicated American conspiracy to, er, hurt Canada by, um, not letting any of its oil go to foreign markets.
So I looked into some of these allegations and discovered some shocking truths about the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation that Canadians really need to know.
1. They Freaking Love Science!
Gordon Moore is a Silicon Valley legend. He helped develop the earliest semi-conductors and co-founded Intel. He’s so famous they named Moore’s Law after him and he chairs the board of trustees of Cal-Tech, one of the world’s leading science and research institutes. The Moore Foundation board of trustees includes the sitting president of Stanford University, a former president of the U.S. National Academy of Science and a member of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
With over $5 billion in assets, Moore is among the world’s most illustrious scientific foundations, renowned for both its research and practical solutions.
2. Their $200 million donation will help create hundreds of science and technology jobs in Canada — mostly in B.C.!
The Moore Foundation is partnering with ACURA (Associated Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy), the National Research Council and U.S. institutions to build the Thirty Meter Telescope, the largest and most powerful optical telescope in history.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is estimated to generate 800 high-tech Canadian jobs. Credit: Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation.
The telescope’s major components will be designed and fabricated right here in Port Coquitlam by Dynamic Structures using technology developed at the University of Victoria. Built at a cost of $1.2 billion, the Thirty Meter Telescope will be 12 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope will eventually be assembled in Hawaii under Canadian guidance.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is like the new Canadarm and is estimated to generate 800 high-tech Canadian jobs — most of them right here in B.C. Although the Moore Foundation has already committed $200 million, the Canadian government is dragging its heels on investment.
3. They’re spending millions on a West Coast earthquake early warning system
The Moore Foundation is funding an early earthquake alert system with Cal-Tech, the U.S. Geological Survey, UC Berkeley and the University of Washington, which could give first responders, transportation networks and citizens a precious few seconds, or even as much as a few minutes, warning. Once developed, this prototype could save lives right here in B.C.
4. They’ve helped create hundreds of sustainable jobs in the fishing and tourism industry on B.C.’s North Coast.
Moore Foundation partnered with the Government of Canada, the B.C. government and other U.S. funders to create a $120-million fund that provided startup capital for sustainable B.C. businesses in the Great Bear Rainforest region. Businesses like Prince Rupert’s Coastal Shellfish Company and Port Simpson’s Coast Tsimshian Seafood sprang from the agreement, creating hundreds of jobs. An eco-tourism venture, the Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu, was cited by National Geographic as a Best Trip for 2013.
Tens of millions of dollars still remain in the Great Bear Rainforest economic development fund, ready to drive tourism, business growth and employment on the North Coast.
5. They committed $300 million to protect 150 million hectares in the Amazon Rainforest.
That’s right. $300 million to bring one-third of the forest cover of the Amazon under sustainable management. ’Nuff said.
6. They’re all wet
On the environment front, the Moore Foundation is all about ocean health and marine habitat. They help develop optimal practices for necessary activities like shipping, transportation and fisheries. They’re tracking Fukushima’s radioactive dispersal across the Pacific, and help sustain healthy wild salmon ecosystems in Alaska, British Columbia and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula — the three remaining regions where great migrations of salmon still return every year.
With enemies like this, who needs friends?
In all, Moore Foundation gifts to Canadian organizations or associated with Canadian government partnerships will total over $250 million, generate almost 2,000 Canadian jobs over the next decade (including hundreds of quality First Nation jobs) and build a legacy of sustainable and responsible resource management.
And for that, the Canadian government has pretty much called them the Taliban, because many of their beneficiary organizations independently oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline.
But it’s wholly disingenuous, if not outright deceptive, to suggest the Moore Foundation funded or influenced that opposition. Ivan Thompson, program officer for the Moore Foundation says, “The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has neither taken a position on the Northern Gateway Pipeline nor funded any organizations to oppose the project.”
How this U.S. foundation funding works
The above video shows how a collaborative project, the B.C. Marine Conservation Analysis, used its Moore Foundation grant to develop richly informative maps of the B.C. coast. The project included representatives from the federal and provincial governments, First Nations, user groups, ENGOs and academia.
Now the maps are informing MaPP, the marine planning process underway between coastal First Nations and the B.C. government. The public can view and navigate these maps online here. The Moore Foundation is providing scientific support through a grant distributed by Tides Canada. The MaPP Partners, the province and First Nations determine the grant allocation, while the stakeholder advisory committees advise on the plans and the science advisory committee advises on scientific guidelines.
So … what was the problem again?
As a nation we’ve got to get past this destructive and divisive approach to our environmental challenges. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start lending hands.
B.C. lived through the ’90s “War in the Woods” and all the kindergarten lessons we learned there still count. Good faith and relationships matter. Compromise is strength, not weakness. Friends are better than enemies.
And as for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s donation of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs? How about a single word: Thanks.