I’m inspired, if that’s the right word, from two quite irreconcilable sources.
First, the Vancouver Sun editorial of last Thursday, and secondly a wonderful movie called Revolution, by Canadian Rob Stewart, which I urge you to see.
The Sun editorial, amongst other things, mocks those who are protesting at Burnaby Mountain and all who generally oppose pipelines, oil companies and the like and it points out of the need for air travel to Kamloops and other such things.
[quote]It is time for those protesting against Kinder Morgan work crews on Burnaby Mountain to stand down. They have made their point and are now breaking the law…It should be remembered that pipelines are of national importance, with international trade implications, which is why, ultimately, the federal cabinet bears responsibility for sanctioning such enterprises.[/quote]
In the movie, Revolution, Patrick Moore is once again – as if it were necessary – exposed as a blithering idiot as he alleges that if protesters are listened to, then 50 million motorists, or some such number, won’t be able to start their cars and go to work tomorrow. Better, I suppose, that they all start their cars than we try to minimize the impact on the atmosphere of people going to work!
Sprinkled in this is the issue of whether or not school boards ought to accept large sums of money from oil companies.
Let’d deal with the last issue first.
It’s a question of morality. Would the police department accept a large annual sum from the Mafia in order to train officers, on the basis that the Mafia wants to give something back to the community?
Now, when I thought of that example, I said to myself, “Rafe, you are being terribly irresponsible. There’s no equivalence between Chevron, say, and the Mafia. Let it go.”
OK, I will let it go, but leave you with the question as to what the people of Nigeria think of how Shell has behaved in their country and ask whether, looking at the behaviour of oil companies everywhere in the world where law enforcement is lax, the example is so far out as it appears.
The Vancouver Sun and others are completely missing the point. There may be radicals who simply would shut down everything and a crawl back into a cave but the vast majority are simply asking, “What are our priorities?”
Why aren’t our governments doing at least as much to support non-fossil fuel enterprises as they are fossil fuels?
Why are fossil fuels being subsidized everywhere one turns?
Why are we on the one hand saying that we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels, while the governments we elect go out of their way to open more coal mines, more oil wells, and more LNG plants?
No one suggests that airlines stop flying and cars all stop running tomorrow afternoon. I don’t know anybody who considers that we should torpedo all ships, particularly cruise ships that Patrick Moore uses to make highly paid lectures.
No, what environmentalists say is that we have to make a start at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and begin seriously encouraging alternatives.
Let’s look locally for an example.
LNG is a losing proposition as the government’s own figures substantiate. A 3.5% tax on the net profits, which may never ever show up on company books no matter how much money they make, is a subsidy and a huge one. The absence of any real rules on fracking is an immense subsidy to LNG producers.
If you look carefully at the negotiations the Clark/Coleman government is conducting, it would almost appear as if we are going to pay LNG plants to come into our province.
Now contrast that to what the provincial government is doing to reduce the use of a fossil fuels. Quite frankly, I can’t think of a thing.
This extends with even greater force to the federal government. It’s falling all over itself to find new sources of fossil fuels and new ways to transport it dangerously through the country and in tankers down our fragile coast.
At the same time, I know of no serious program to subsidize the use of solar power. In fact, Harper cut the small bit of federal funding we did have for innovation last year. One doesn’t get visits from solar power salesman or offers in their email to convert to solar power instead of the fossil fuels being used either directly or through electricity. This is because, in my view, the government has not done nothing to encourage through subsidy or otherwise the use of solar power.
We read a lot of learned articles about geothermal power of which we have immense sources. I’ve spent time in New Zealand where much of their power comes from thermal power and I’ve seen their power plants. What are our governments doing in this area? Is the BC government ensuring that the Crown corporation, BC Hydro, is embarking upon a serious program for geothermal energy to replace fossil fuels and new hydroelectric projects?
One suspects that will never happen as long there are hugely expensive, tax-paid sweetheart deals between BC Hydro – for which read the Clark/Coleman government – and private power corporations, those little “mom and pop” operations like General Electric.
97% of the world’s climatologists say that we have a fatal problem with global warming. It’s predicted that we have no more than until the end of this century to reverse this tidal wave and many say it’s considerably before that.
What the hell are we doing about this?
Almost the entire world, aside from Patrick Moore and the idiot who writes editorials for the Vancouver Sun, accept the global warming warnings and that by far the main cause is the use of fossil fuels. This is an emergency worse than war! What are our governments doing to meet this threat?
The valiant men and women at Burnaby Mountain, and elsewhere, are saying that individually and even collectively they don’t have the power to do anything except to point out forcefully to the governments which are the repositories of our wealth that they must immediately get off their asses and change from making matters worse to taking every possible step to make them better.
It’s always more comfortable to sit back and say that there’s no problem. People like Patrick Moore and editorial writers for right wing news papers know this and make their living off that knowledge.
Those going to jail to protest this attitude have nothing to gain except the moral satisfaction of being right and being willing to make huge personal sacrifices to do something about a terrible and destructive situation.
I think of Harry Belafonte, who famously said, “Don’t turn your back on the masses, mon”. This is precisely what government and industry are doing and, as always, the masses are going to rise – indeed they are all already rising – and will have their way.
I pray that it’s soon enough.