Alternatives create a better future

Resident defends the need to seek new energy sources

According to Brian Gilowski’s letter to the editor, those who take issue with the development of the Alberta oil sands, and current pipeline proposals, are “negative and naive.”

He then reminds us that we all drive cars, use products and eat food that depend on the oil industry.

If we can move beyond black and white, we see that we live in a world that is both very dependent on fossil fuels and very threatened by global warming.

Canadians have been insulated from the impacts, but Americans are waking up to the high costs of holding on to the status quo, after Hurricane Katrina, super storm Sandy and now the California drought.

President Obama, in his recent State of the Union Address, called climate change “unequivocal” and has directed, through EPA regulation, that power plants cut carbon emissions.

John Kerry, secretary of state, delivered a speech recently while touring the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which at 315 kilometres an hour, had the strongest winds ever recorded.

He stated: “We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and extreme ideology to compete with scientific facts.”

Referring specifically to large energy corporations, he added: “We simply don’t have time for a few loud interest groups to hijack the climate conversation.”

So we depend on fossil fuels, but we desperately need to start turning the ship.

It is discouraging that such simple ideas as a gas tax to encourage smaller cars and fewer miles are now meeting stiff resistance. Blaming China, for example, is like justifying throwing garbage onto an already dirty highway.

Let’s start with coal, the largest carbon polluter, and replace coal with natural gas.

To Alberta’s credit, it has reduced coal in its electricity generating plants from 80 per cent to 50 per cent.

Why are we even talking about doubling the volume of the coal-shipping facilities in Vancouver, to get more coal overseas ?

The oil sands are a fact, and a major job-creator, including for many Vernonites who commute. We’re not going to shut this down.

But we can cap the rate of expansion, increase air and water pollution standards, get serious about carbon capture, and build the ‘best’ pipelines, not just the ones that industry is pushing.

Who would pick Northern Gateway moving dilbit (diluted bitumen) through the Douglas Channel, if we had the alternative of going to oil refineries back east?

A further quote from John Kerry: “Climate change can now be considered the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

Being critical of oil sands development and pipeline proposals may not be “negative and naive,” but realistic and optimistic, in the sense that we can see the danger and are prepared to stand up and propose alternatives to create a better future.


Dave G. Smith