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And now a few comments on The Tyee’s new sustainable energy project…

June 18, 2012 Leave a comment

In my post below, I recommended following a new investigative reporting series being produced by The Tyee. I commend this initiative as it is important, timely and deserves our attention. Now for some thoughts on what The Tyee is hoping to achieve with this project.

First, a few words of caution beginning with David Beer’s premise in launching this series on the polarized debate between “Oil sands full bore? Oil sands full stop? Neither is realistic.”

This is not really accurate. I agree that “Oil sands full stop” seems highly improbable for the reasons that David points out, but “Oil sands full bore” is very much within the realm of possibility and is in fact the desired outcome by many (most?) of those individuals in government and industry who are currently controlling the levers of power.

Will an appeal to “the middle path” as this Tyee project endeavours to do convince the political and economic masters to alter their course? I am highly skeptical.

Correct me if I’m wrong but the premise of this series seems to be that both sides are taking an extreme position but we can indeed have our cake and eat it too if we manage this resource better. That there are both “challenges” and “opportunities” that lie ahead. [An aside: when I worked in government, “challenges” was always used as a euphemism for “problems”.]

Yet such a “solution” is only feasible IF both of the so-called “extreme” positions are in fact wrong. In other words, if the truth therefore lies somewhere in the middle. If it turns out, as many scientists believe, that climate change and the state of the global environment is so serious as to warrant a revolutionary shift in how we produce and consume energy, it seems to me that the “middle way” will only delay, yet not solve the inevitable crisis staring us in the face.

Yes, it’s true due to political/economic realities that we can’t/won’t shut down the tar sands or get off fossil fuels tomorrow but that doesn’t mean taking such a position is wrong from the perspective of what science is now telling us. I fear that any meaningful solution will not come from an appeal for all of us to “just get along” (R.I.P Rodney King) but will only come through conflict and confrontation. I hope I’m wrong about this.

Just published in The Tyee: What climate campaigners can learn from hockey

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Although you may have already seen this post that I wrote last month, it was just published today in the excellent online news publication The Tyee, based in B.C.

Click here to read the article on The Tyee web site. Here’s an excerpt:

How do we reconcile what science is telling us about the link between repeated head trauma and CTE with the fact that, almost to a man, the NHL’s fighters say their jobs are worth the risk? Understanding this proclivity to accept serious, perhaps fatal, risks could shed some light on another issue that was debated last month in Durban, South Africa under the auspices of the United Nations climate change summit (COP 17).

Climate science has evolved considerably over the last 20 years to the point that we are now virtually certain that humans, through the emissions of greenhouse gases, are causing climate change. We also know that the impacts of climate change are likely to be very serious if nothing is done to reign in global emissions dramatically. Even the International Energy Agency, hardly an environmental advocacy group, recently warned that the “door is closing” to avert catastrophic climate change.


Yet despite years of repeated, urgent warnings from the scientific community, global emissions are up 49 per cent since 1990 and no new deal emerged out of Durban to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol.


For the most part, the public and the media recognize and acknowledge the risks of continuing to pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, yet we have thus far been unwilling to accept or support any substantive economic measures that might impact us personally. As with fighting in hockey, we know climate change might cause serious problems, even death for some, but as the current system is our meal ticket, it’s worth the price.

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