After reading the Trottier Energy Futues Project 28 page document entitled ‘Setting the Stage for a Sustainable Future – Canada’s Necessary Opportunity’, I was inspired to relay some of its key points and recommend anyone interested in the full document to click the link below and discover what is on Canada’s energy horizon.
Many countries have rightly taken up the challenge to include low-carbon investments as a major component of their economic stimulus spending. China has allocated 37.8% of its stimulus to low carbon measures; South Korea 80.5%; the European Union, 58.7%; and the US, a paltry 12%. In comparison, Canada has devoted a shameful 8.3% of its stimulus package to low-carbon investments.
The international competitiveness of a country’s energy economy has historically defined its ability to provide leadership into the next energy transition, such as coal’s impact during the industrial revolution and petroleum’s impact during the rise of the internal combustion engine.
The next global energy transition has been sparked by the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A race now exists to lead the world into the next chapter of our energy evolution and Canada is well poised to take a leading role, both in terms of the development of low impact technologies, and in the stimulation of behavioral changes among its citizens.
Unfortunately, the negative impacts to the health of our ecosystem go way past climate change. While the exploration for, and development and use of our current sources for energy account for approximately 81% of Canada’s GHG emissions, it also produces the largest source of air pollutants including nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfur oxides, promethium, benzene and mercury.
The extraction and subsequent refining of the Alberta oil sands uses up to four barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. It should also be noted that one barrel of oil is used to extract and refine two barrels so in fact, reported reserves should be halved for forcasting purposes.
Furthermore, contaminated processing water from the project is finding its way to the Athabasca River where its downstream inhabitants are already reporting much higher incidence of rare forms of cancers. These cancers are showing up in humans, fish and other wildlife alike. The impacts of the poisonous compounds flowing downstream to the ocean and all of its biodiversity seems to have escaped public attention for the time being. I suspect that’s only because of the more obvious effects it’s having on local and immediately identifiable populations. To borrow from the plumber’s bible, crap flows downhill. You can be certain that life in the oceans will suffer similar if not through an even broader scope of consequences.
It is with great sadness and some horror I realize the catastrophic effects these compounds dumping into the Pacific won’t be fully realized until long after untold irreparable damage has occurred. The remote nature of the ocean prevents us from gathering immediate data the same way that we can on terracentric ecosystems. The trend in cases where we shoot first and ask questions later has always been to regret what we’ve done and though we’ve never been able to step backwards in time to correct our errors, as long as we stare at our shoes, say we’re sorry and promise never to do it again, we believe somehow that should be ok. All sarcasm aside, the time for publice outrage is now. Let’s not allow the carrot of short term jobs and corporate profits prevent us from seeing what is truely important here.
Clean Energy Alternatives
The exciting news is that clean energy alternatives are ready to implement right now. The technologies surrounding Solar, Wind and Geothermal, among others, is improving all the time but exist now to fascilitate an end to our dependence on fossil fuels. The key to its implementation is public will. YOU NEED TO BECOME PART OF THE SOLUTION.
Canadians have a long history of responding to and meeting urgent challenges. We’re a country of educated people. We value rational and objective evaluation. We expect our decision makers to utilize the knowledge of our best scientists and engineers. Sadly, our expectations are often unfounded as the mechanism of politics has historically shown it can be prostituted for profit.
What Can You Do?
Again, the great news is that the political system can’t ignore the strongly demonstrated wishes of its constituents. So… become as involved as you can. Write to your MPs, the Minister of the Environment (once we have another one), and the Prime Minister. Tell them you’re vehemently opposed to the continued development of the Tarsands Project.
Lastly – join groups, clubs and associations whose leadership actively pursue these goals and help to show strength for our cause. Donate to their projects if you can but most importantly, join. This is the beauty of the information age… be proactive and let’s see how quickly we can compel our leaders to turn the rudder. C’mon Canada… we can do this.
A short note about my blog… I’m approaching ‘launch’ of a proper website (yayyy) and will eventually migrate my blog over to it. In the meantime, I’ve added some features that will make it a bit more interesting. To watch some extremely compelling videos on these issues, scroll to the bottom right and instead of launching a particular video, click on the link labeled ‘GreenAERO vidz’. That will allow you to choose from all the videos. You can even join my blog and get email notices when new movies are posted. There is also a Signup form right on the main page to subscribe to new posts when I put them up.
… just so you know