There was a time when
coal, oil and natural gas served us well; powering our vehicles, heating and
cooling our homes, generating our electricity and keeping our industries going.
While they may still be doing
all of those things, there’s been a huge, even sinister shift over the
generations since the industrial revolution of the 19th century.
World populations have
skyrocketed, along with our expectations. Our lust for more and more of the
things these fossil fuels can give us - electronic gadgets, power boats and quads - has turned into a life-threatening addiction.
moderation are now dirty words. Consumption is the new religion – with no
thought for tomorrow. Sadly, even our schools and churches are doing little to counter this kind of mindset! Parents are even drilling it into their children, at home.
Make no mistake. Fossil fuels, which once served us well, are no longer our friends.
The more of them we burn,
the more heat-trapping emissions are produced. These greenhouse gases are
rapidly changing the very makeup of the biosphere – the air upon which we and all
other creatures on earth depend, for life itself.
It’s been said that, if
Earth were the size of a soccer ball, that biosphere would be about the
thickness of tissue paper! Yet we treat it as if it is indestructible, relentlessly spewing our filth into it like an open sewer.
As a result, our planet
is heating up, spawning terrible storms, wildfires, droughts, flash-floods and
rising sea levels due to melting ice-caps and glaciers.
It’s gotten so bad, hardly
a day goes by any more without news of another terrible event occurring somewhere
in the world which can be laid directly at the feet of our addiction to oil and
its treacherous cousins, natural gas and coal.
In Canada alone, the
awful flooding in Alberta and the tragic and deadly train accident in Quebec recently,
are painfully fresh in the minds of many. Surely both are examples of our
"fossil fuel demons" coming back to bite us in different ways.
Reliable experts in the
field are saying that climate change caused by humans, likely contributed to
And it was crude oil, now being moved in
increasingly massive amounts around the globe, that ignited when a runaway
train rolled into that quiet little Quebec town on a
fateful night this summer, bringing with it such terrible loss of innocent life
and human misery.
Despite all of this, our leaders, whether they be politicians, journalists or industry moguls, are now all a-flutter over a proposal for a new,
west-to-east pipeline. Apparently spawned during a corporate wet dream in the
boardrooms of the energy giant, Trans-Canada Pipelines, the line (if approved)
would move sludgy, sticky, corrosive, climate-destroying tar from Alberta to Atlantic Canada.
In so doing, it would
travel much of the way through existing pipe which now carries natural gas.
(Natural gas destroys the climate, too, just not quite as well.)
Minister Harper, Canada's premiere "fossil fool," is four-square behind this reckless, misguided project.
"It's safer to move oil by pipe than by rail," he pontificates,
shamelessly using the recent Quebec tragedy to his own political ends.
Which mode of travel is
safer, of course, is not the point. It is, rather, how can we stop being the
fossil fuel junkies we have become and find new energy sources which don’t
destroy us all?
Sadly, Mr. Harper
displayed his willful ignorance of the basic science of climate change when
commenting on this year’s terrible
flooding in Alberta.
"I never imagined we
could have a flood of this magnitude in this part of the country," he
Apparently you can be the
leader of a great nation and still be
oblivious to the warnings which top climate scientists from around the world
have been sounding for decades. On second thought, it was not
surprising coming as it did from one who thinks climate change is a
"socialist plot!" And not surprising
either, given that this is a Prime Minister actively muzzling climate
scientists if they speak the truth on the matter.
slick bigwigs are promising that "environmental" concerns will be
taken into consideration in the new pipeline project, as if they had a clue as
to what that word even means, let alone cared. And environmentalists are once again being treated as quaint creatures
who need to be patted on the head, then dismissed. What fails to get
mentioned is, it is the environmental
movement which has science on its side, not the vested, profit-driven interests
of Big Oil.
It was James Hansen of
NASA, the world's foremost climatologist, who warned a year or two ago, it
would be "game over for the climate" if the XL pipeline is built to
carry tar from Alberta to the Texas coast. So, are we to somehow
believe that this latest brainwave (the west-east pipeline) will somehow be
less harmful if it is aligned across Canada, rather than south into the
'States? Give me a break!
Even I am not suggesting
we can go "cold turkey" on fossil fuels. Junkies, of course, need
time to "taper off" from their habits. But surely we need to be
seeking alternatives like wind and solar way more aggressively than we are. (And, don't forget, despite earlier promises to remove them, the Harperites have kept those disgraceful subsidies to the "poor, impoverished" oil industry in place, costing hard-working Canadians well over a billion a year in tax dollars!)
Trouble is, zealots like
Mr. Harper, other members of his “team” like my own MP, Robert Sopuck and their
friends in Big Oil, don't want that. They want it all. And, if that means the
degradation or even destruction of Canada’s precious wild places which so many
of us hold dear – not to mention the planet itself - then, so be it!