On the TV news and in newspapers, we have seen that a pipeline, property of Husky Oil, has spilled more than 200,000 litres of petroleum in the North Saskatchewan River. The oil slick is rapidly moving downstream, polluting the river bottom as well as the drinking water of wildlife, livestock and the citizens living in its watershed.
Let's be frank, climate change is real. We, as a country, have to do more to fight climate change. That being said climate change is a red herring in this discussion. Why? Because up to 80 per cent of the emissions associated with fossil fuels are generated in their combustion. Pipelines represent a negligible part of that equation.
It sometimes sounds as though pipeline proponents are the true environmentalists among us. Commentary in favour of the pipelines has followed suit with generous explanations of our current needs and the realities of energy consumption. They ask: are opponents of the pipelines in denial about our current reliance on fossil fuels? And if these bleeding hearts do admit that we do need fossil fuels to power our country, are they comfortable importing Saudi oil forever? I believe that such questions willfully miss the point.
The reality is that you can't have a legitimate discussion about the topic of oil without considering the ethics underlying our oil supply. Regardless of branding, ethical sourcing has to be part of the discussion. As a pragmatic environmentalist seeking only to ensure a healthy economy on a healthy planet, I would be remiss if I ignored the topic for such an inane reason.
The greatest worry about Justin's pre-electoral inexperience was his sympathetic talk about oil pipelines and, for those of us in BC, Premier Christy Clark's aspirations for LNG. True, Mr. Trudeau didn't keep his mutually exclusive views a secret. He had already made his thoughts known about how it could be done "environmentally responsibly," a notion that's in contrast to the overwhelming science on climate change.
I have been asked recently why I blog on The Huffington Post. The question has come from a friend as well as a journalist, on Twitter, who suggested that I am taking food off his plate. My intention in my blogs is not to court conflict. Rather, I want to highlight the misuse of science in environmental decision-making.
My blog post last week (I Support The Energy East Pipeline As A Pragmatic Environmentalist) made quite a splash resulting in me receiving a lot of both positive and negative feedback. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the negative feedback consisted of unsupported and/or unsupportable "facts" about the proposal.
With the 42nd federal election in the books here in Canada, now the clock starts ticking down the 42 days until the Paris climate talks begin. The good news is that Stephen Harper is no longer the Prime Minister of Canada. After nearly a decade in power, Harper has left a sea of devastation in his wake when it comes to climate change. Here's the bad news: while Stephen Harper's government may have been a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, Justin Trudeau has failed to distinguish himself as a much better option.
Extreme weather conditions, storms, flooding, droughts and ice melting are the new reality in too many parts of the world. People are losing their livelihood, their homes, their jobs -- and even their lives. While scientists and faith leaders call for urgent action, our political leaders have failed to take necessary actions.
Just about every aspect of our lives involves a certain amount of risk, of course. It's all about risk management. And indeed, despite the occasional high-profile accident like last week's spill in California, pipelines in general remain very safe. One realistic alternative to transporting Canadian oil by pipeline is transporting that same oil by train or by truck. Yet both of these methods of transport are less safe than pipelines. Logically, then, we should transport as much oil as we can by pipe, and as little as possible by rail or road.