A pipe dream

Time for Canada to get off fos­sil fu­els

Village Post - - Currents - David Suzuki is the host of the CBC’s The Na­ture of Things and au­thor of more than 30 books on ecol­ogy (with files from Ian Han­ing­ton).

On March 31, an un­der­wa­ter pipeline car­ry­ing oil to a re­fin­ery in Ba­lik­pa­pan, In­done­sia, broke, spread­ing crude oil over 20,000 hectares of Ba­lik­pa­pan Bay. Some of it ig­nited, killing five fish­er­men. Area res­i­dents ex­pe­ri­enced health prob­lems, in­clud­ing nau­sea, vom­it­ing and res­pi­ra­tory dif­fi­cul­ties, and marine life and man­groves were also dev­as­tated.

In mid-Jan­uary, an Ira­nian tanker car­ry­ing more than 111,300 tonnes of nat­u­ral gas con­den­sate hit a cargo ship, caught fire and sank in the East China Sea in one of China’s rich­est fish­ing grounds. The ac­ci­dent killed all 32 of the tanker’s crew and left an oil slick big­ger than Paris — more than 100 square kilo­me­tres. Re­searchers say the spill and fire killed phy­to­plank­ton, marine mam­mals, fish and birds and will have lon­glast­ing con­se­quences.

Mean­while, in North Amer­ica and else­where, pipeline ac­ci­dents con­tinue to spew gas and oil into the en­vi­ron­ment, pol­lut­ing air, water and land and af­fect­ing wildlife and habi­tat, as well as hu­man com­mu­ni­ties.

In the midst of it all, we have Cana­dian pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments claim­ing that ex­pand­ing oil­sands pro­duc­tion and pipe­lines is not only in keep­ing with our na­tional and in­ter­na­tional cli­mate com­mit­ments, but is ac­tu­ally nec­es­sary to them!

If short-term eco­nomic gain, a rel­a­tively small num­ber of jobs and the pri­or­i­ties of share­hold­ers in mostly for­eign-owned com­pa­nies are more im­por­tant to the na­tional in­ter­est than en­sur­ing that peo­ple and ecosys­tems here and around the world re­main healthy and alive, some­thing is wrong. Most dis­cus­sions among gov­ern­ments, in­dus­try and me­dia about Texas-based Kin­der Mor­gan’s pipeline project don’t even men­tion cli­mate change.

One can sym­pa­thize with the fed­eral govern­ment, which is al­ready fac­ing some pro­vin­cial op­po­si­tion to its cli­mate poli­cies and is likely to face more af­ter a num­ber of up­com­ing pro­vin­cial elec­tions. The Al­berta govern­ment is also in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion, strug­gling to hold power in a province where many peo­ple are blind to the re­al­i­ties of global warm­ing and have an overblown sense of the oil in­dus­try’s rel­a­tive, and de­clin­ing, im­por­tance.

For the fed­eral govern­ment to ar­gue that the pipeline is nec­es­sary to keep Al­berta on board with its cli­mate plan is short-sighted when the party lead­ing in Al­berta polls op­poses key el­e­ments of the plan.

We must stand to­gether against the Kin­der Mor­gan pipeline project and all fos­sil fuel ex­pan­sion. We have bet­ter ways to cre­ate jobs and eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity.

A rally against the Kin­der Mor­gan pipeline on Burn­aby Moun­tain in 2014

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