Blinders are often used to keep horses racing in a straight line and free from distraction. However, some horse race experts argue that true competitors want to see what's coming. They say expanding the field of vision expands possibilities. Blinders are fine if you're doing the same thing over and over like going around a track but adapting to a new set of circumstances requires you to see the whole context.
One aspect of the climate change debate I find particularly troubling is the extent to which CO2 has come to dominate the narrative. By limiting our discussions to CO2 we ignore the topics we can all agree upon. Today I will talk about a topic about which even the most dedicated denialists and the most excitable catastrophists should be able to agree on: black carbon.
History shows how energy and foreign policy issues have been closely intertwined. There is little doubt that this relationship will continue to strengthen in line with increased instability in the international political system. I do not need to say more than Ukraine/Russia and the Middle East to underline this point. For Norway, energy diplomacy is higher than ever on the priority scale. This recognizes that to understand and act in a rapidly changing energy world, there is a need to understand how market and foreign policy factors interact.
Opposition to shale gas development has been fueled by fears that fracking could adversely affect our drinking water resources. A just-released study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should help douse such fears. The exhaustive, 998-page report "did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States."
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.
Hydro-Québec indirectly subsidizes the wind power sector to the tune of $695 million a year, which amounts to some $200 per Quebec household to produce a tiny fraction of the province's energy. With an estimated 40 billion barrels of oil, developing this resource would provide a minimum of $160 million a year in royalties for the Quebec treasury over 30 years.
Energy consultants have been helping companies reduce operator error, identifying energy wasting systems and proposing energy efficient retrofits for a while now. But what is new is the next generation of energy efficiency companies who are using super smart meters and big data to identify, measure and wrestle energy sucking systems to submission.
There was no Earth Day speech. No urgent call to action. No outlining of the threats we face or the way in which we were going to work together to meet them. There wasn't even an Earth Day tweet -- just silence. It was a very stark reminder of his priorities. U.S. President Barack Obama's speech noted that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The fact that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded, that droughts, storms, and wildfires are increasing all over the planet in both frequency and intensity, and how climate change is already adversely affecting the air our children breathe.