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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The markets have put an end to the oilsands boom

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Gary Lamphier in an opinion piece in the Sun about the way the market has at last put a stop to some of the excesses of the Alberta oil boom.

But he is very determined to give no credit to concerns for the environment

That’s just one reason why the noisy “green” lobby has been so successful in demonizing the oilsands, which generate less than 10 per cent of Canada’s carbon emissions, and a fraction of one per cent of global emissions.

The Sun does not tell us who he is but obviously he is not someone who actually understands why environmentalists are concerned. “Demonizing” is actually not all necessary. Just look at the pictures of what the place looks like, or listen to what the First Nations who have to live with the devastation have to say. The reason the oil sands are a real problem for environmentalists is that this method of getting fuel for motor vehicles is incredibly expensive, not just in monetary terms, but in every other respect as well. It produces much more carbon dioxide than any other production method – and despite what he writes

The Stelmach government’s $2-billion plan to develop an integrated carbon capture and storage network — while laudable — came late in the game, and has been largely ignored outside Alberta.

There actually is no credible carbon capture technology available yet on the sort of scale the oil sands need, nor any viable method of storing the captured carbon. Yes there are some promising experimental techniques but the plan has been ignored because it was mostly window dressing – green wash in the face of threatened consumer revolt. There comes a point when it takes the equivalent of a barrel of oil to get a barrel of oil out of the tar sands when the exercise is completely uneconomic. But long before that happens, if the oil companies had to bear all of the costs of bitumen extraction and processing and not just off load them onto the community in general, then they would not have started. It is only because they can destroy the boreal forest and pollute the the water and fill the air with toxins aided by all sorts of tax breaks and public assistance that they have proceeded so precipitously. Simple greed explains most of the rational for the Alberta oil patch. Wiser heads would have advised leaving it in the ground until some of the environmental impacts are not only understood but truly mitigated, and not just side lined for a while. It seems the lessons of the Love Canal and the Sydney Tar Ponds have still not sunk in to the corporate or political conciounsness.

I think we are going to be in desperate need of petrochemicals in future far more than cheap fuel for our cars. I suspect that a combination of both new technologies (plug in cars) and the old tried and true (trams, electric trains, sailing ships, airships, canal barges) will come to the rescue of transportation, just as LEED and TOD and the rest will sort out the mess of land use and building technology. I do not see  much on the horizon for all the things that we make from oil – unless those green algae are even more versatile than so far doscovered

And for a welcome contrary view to the Aspers’ organ why not come out next week to

BC Wide Speaking Tour on the Impacts of the Tar Sands on Communities in Alberta and BC.

Speakers on the Panel include:

>> MIKE MERCREDI – Member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation will be speaking about the front line struggles of the indigenous community in Fort Chipewyan against the tar sands industry, including a plague of tar sands related cancer.

>> JESSIE KALMAN – Tar Sands Campaigner with the Polaris Institute will speak on the social & environmental impacts of the tar sands.

>> WILL HORTER – Executive Director of Dogwood Initiative will speak about the little known support that infrastructure based and proposed in BC provides to current and future tar-sands development. (Speaking in Vancouver, Victoria, Comox and Nanaimo)

Please join us for a very important panel about the largest industrial project in history that has been devastating the environment and communities in Alberta and is now extending to communities within BC.

This Tour is being organized, endorsed and supported by the Council of Canadians, the Polaris Institute, Canadian Union of Public Employees BC, the Seirra Club, the Dogwood Initiative, Greenpeace, Check-Your Head, Institute for Citizen Journalism, Tar Sands Free BC, North Coast Enviro Watch, Western Wilderness Committee.

Vancouver – Tuesday, November 25th
Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St. Vancouver, BC
Event to start 7 pm

Written by Stephen Rees

November 20, 2008 at 10:29 am

Posted in energy, Environment

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