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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today's post feels very I'mnothannah-inspired. Though I lack her enviable wit, humor, writing skills, and talent for making lists, I shall do my best. And I may have to throw in a y'all for good effect :)

I'm having one of those days where I look at the world and think "we are all so screwed." It makes me want to knock heads together, scream, throw up, and hide all at the same time.  Today is energy-related.

I mean, I get it. I live in Alberta, and the reason I don't have to pay an extra 12% in taxes on every purchase (or whatever HST is at these days) is because of the oil and gas industry. It is what funds this province, and keeps many many people employed, including, in some part, myself. It is an essential part of this province's current economy. I get it. Really. I do. However, we are a smart nation, and (despite my redneck Albertan jokes) a pretty smart province, too. So when are we going to realize the oil really isn't worth it?

The oilsands have a deservedly bad rap. It's dirty oil, that's a fact, though feel free to argue exactly how dirty it is. The extraction and shipping of oil and gas is polluting, destructive to the environment, and absolutely devastating when there is a spill. We all know this, yes? And yet, this is the poll I saw in the Calgary Herald today:
Are you in favour of building the Northern Gateway Pipeline? 82.24% yes; 17.76% no (at last check) 

For those of you who haven't been following the CBC, Enbridge wants to build a pipeline through British Columbia to bring Alberta oil sands oil to the west coast, where it can be loaded on to tankers and shipped to Asian markets. To do so, it would pass through one of the world's most diverse and precious ecosystems, the BC coastal rainforest, where a spill would be catastrophic. For more info, you can visit the CBC website:

This is what I find so frustrating. Yes, currently we are addicted to oil and gas products. We need them.Yes, they support our economy. Yes, Enbridge has promised that they will respond as quickly as possible to any leaks or spills. But really, is it worth it? The coastal rainforests, waterways, ocean, and BC's interior are amazingly diverse places that support an incredible amount of life and greatly benefit the health of our planet. I had the chance to explore them for the first time this past fall, and they blew me away. (Pagans, want to get connected to the earth? Try a 6 day sea kayaking trip. It's like nothing else I have ever experienced.) I just cannot imagine the devastation that any sort of leak along the pipeline, or worse, spill in the coastal waters of British Columbia, would have. Actually, I take that back. I can imagine it, and it makes me sick. Like actually, my stomach is turning.

On a similar vein, I heard a report on the radio today (As It Happens, CBC Radio 1) about some folks down in Pennslyvania who can no longer drink from their wells due to "fracking" - hydraulic fracturing, a process used to drill for gas. All the water coming out of their taps is now contaminated with methane gas. Earlier this year, my BF's mother met some people south of Calgary who have had the same problem - gas now comes out when they turn on the taps, and they cannot drink the water. I hear these things, and I am furious. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? Here? In CANADA - a country with the most clean fresh water in the world - we can't drink what comes out of our taps???

I get that right now, the world relies on oil and gas. Trust me. It was almost -20 C this morning when I left for work, and the idea of taking the car was very tempting. I'm sure the light that's on beside me and this laptop are not fueled by wind-generated electricity. But we as a country and as a human race are never going to move beyond our reliance on oil until we are forced to start changing our ways. At what point are we going to say "enough is enough" and make the choice to stop chasing after more and more elusive sources of oil or gas. At what point are we going to decide to make the change? How much are we willing to sacrifice before the change is forced on us?

There needs to be a reality show for the Earth: Extreme Makeover: Environment Edition.  We need that someone to come and knock our heads together and show us the truth: we just can't continue this way. Put us on an energy diet, help us source out and consume cleaner, greener options, and if we could have some fun little challenges along the way and wrap it up in a nice little one-hour parcel, we'll that'd just be peachy. Oh, and of course the ending where we get weighed in, have been wildly successful, and finish with lots of tears of happiness. Can't forget that bit.

In the mean time, I don't know what else to do. People like myself are vastly outnumbered (see above poll for proof) I feel like I'm constantly butting my head against a brick wall. At this point, I'm just crossing my fingers and praying that the pipeline will not be approved. 4,300 individuals have signed up to to speak at the review panel, I can only hope that the panel's mind can be swayed in the environment's favour.

Before I go, I have to share what I heard yesterday. Apparently, all the opposition to this pipeline is coming from "environmentalists, and other radical groups" according to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. The are funded by "billionaire socialists" from the States who are all trying to derail the Canadian economy.
"Oliver says the groups "threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda," stack the hearings with people to delay or kill "good projects," attract "jet-setting" celebrities and use funding from "foreign special interest groups." " Puh-LEEZ. Y'all, I am an environmentalist and I support the David Suzuki Foundation, but that must be some special math Mr. Oliver is using...that, or I've misplaced all my billions.

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