Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thanks to Government Policies which Subsidize Fossil Fuels, Canada is Short of Options Other Than Resource Extraction to Maintain its Comfy Lifestyle

I started reading this column from the Edmonton Journal’s Gary Lamphier this evening (“Lamphier: Canada is short of options other than resource extraction to maintain its comfy lifestyle”, Gary Lamphier, the Edmonton Journal, October 9, 2014), and after a few paragraphs, it became clear to me that it needed a few edits in order to make any sense.  Lamphier's piece seems to be based on the notion that our lifestyle isn't threatened in any way by climate change, exacerbated by Canada's continued fossil fuel extraction-based economy, and in fact our quality of life can only be sustained by more extraction - a completely absurd notion.

With that in mind, here is my edited version of the column.

Lamphier & May: Thanks to government policies which subsidize fossil fuels, Canada is short of options other than resource extraction to maintain its comfy lifestyle

EDMONTON & SUDBURY - Canadians want it all, and we want it now. Just don’t ask us to help pay for it.

Like whiny toddlers, too many Canadians live in a fantasy world of self-entitlement, where our comfy 21st century lifestyle can be taken for granted. Well, it can’t, and unless those attitudes change, we’re in for a shock.

Like it or not, Canada is built on resource wealth. That’s our competitive advantage. It still is, no matter how much fawning coverage marginal sectors like movie production and video games attract.

Yet many Canadians are now fickle if not openly hostile toward further development of the very resources that made this country one of the wealthiest on the planet.

Even worse better, many Canadian political leaders (including British Columbia Premier Christy Clark) have failed are starting to recognize that the world is changing fast, requiring them to modify their views accordingly.

After making wild-eyed promises about erasing B.C.’s debt and creating a vast prosperity fund built on a world-class coastal liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, Clark is beginning to realize that now fighting to keep one of the sector’s key players — Malaysia’s Petronas — from bailing out entirely. she may lack the social license to expensively develop LNG in her province, committing British Columbia to becoming a world leader in carbon pollution and ensuring that Canada and the world blows through our Copenhagen commitments of holding the line of warming at 2 degrees Celsius.

My guess is she’ll succeed continue to accede to the will of major fossil fuel corporations intent on putting profit before the plight of the world’s people — but only if she slashes continues to ignore British Columbians who are calling for her to end proposed taxpayer subsidies for LNG income tax from the proposed seven per cent to perhaps four or five per cent.

Even then, If she does listen to the people, Petronas may simply try to bypass the province and its perennially toxic maturing political culture by shipping natural gas by pipeline from its fields in northeast B.C. to a proposed new LNG terminal in Oregon, gambling on the assumption that Oregonians don’t understand the massive global risks from the climate crisis and the need to safely sequester carbon in the ground – and that’s a bet that I wouldn’t want to take.

Time will tell. But so far, there is little growing evidence to suggest that Clark understands that B.C., Canada and the world doesn’t needs Petronas a whole lot more than Petronas needs B.C. The world will soon be awash in have to soon give up its addiction to fossil fuels like LNG, and B.C. is well behind the curve. or else risk a meltdown of the global economy thanks to climate change.

As for the antipathy that many Canadians now show toward the oilsands tarsands, new oil diluted bitumen pipelines and the fracking (natural gas fracturing) revolution, that’s another head-scratcher no-brainer.

Perhaps they buy the green lobby’s spin, understand the severity of the crisis we are facing, and believe based on scientific evidence acknowledge that Canada must end its addiction to greenhouse gas generating fossil fuels and can become a world leader in burgeoning fields like wind and solar power, both of which require hefty a level playing field and the end of governmental interventions in the market place in the form of public subsidies to fossil fuels be economic.

Under the Conservative federal government, forget it. Germany and China, both manufacturing heavyweights, staked out that turf long ago. We’ll continue to be forced to import their technology, but they will manufacture it, keeping the jobs that go with it, until Canadians call for an end to crippling investor state provisions in so-called “free trade” agreements, and institute meaningful border adjustments on high-carbon goods after we finally put a price on carbon pollution here at home.

By permitting outsourcing of our high-tech manufacturing base through a race to the bottom, smartphones? made by Waterloo-based BlackBerry is are now a pipsqueak in a market dominated by behemoths like Apple and Samsung, thanks in part to global trade rules which favour corporate profit over employing local people.

Auto manufacturing? Ontario used to produce more vehicles than any jurisdiction in North America. It’s on the rebound now, but automation has fundamentally changed the business.

It will never again generate the number of solid middle-class jobs it once did. Those days are gone – and we now are positioned to look towards the fastest growing global economic sector in the form of the renewable energy economy for transitioning job creation.

Biotech? Alternative energy? These are still niche industries in Canada. Few players have ever made a profit, thanks to the government heavily intervening in the so-called “free market” by heavily subsidizing fossil fuels, and many are on virtual life support, limping from one financing to the next.

Even in a relatively successful sector like software, Canada’s top players — firms like Open Text and Constellation Software — are mice compared to U.S. goliaths like Microsoft and Google. Mice tend to get eaten, especially when the government refuses to intervene on behalf of Canadians and provide some form of protection to our important commercial enterprises from ravenous multi-national corporate cats.

So again, that leaves us with resources, where Canada remains a key global player. The oilsands tar sands still currently rank as one of the few sources of future production growth in a world that still consumes some an unsustainable 90 million barrels of oil per day. Moving forward into the future with the knowledge and understanding that most of the tar sands deposits must be safely sequestered in the ground to avoid warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius, it is incumbent on Canada to do far more to wean ourselves off of our fossil fuels addiction.

(Please note that the above text was not used with Gary Lamphier's permission.  It was used for the purpose of what I consider to be "political satire".  However, should I receive communication from Mr. Lanthier or his employers with regards to my unauthorized use of this text as a basis for my blogpost, I will gladly remove this post as I can't help but acknowledge that the majority of this text is not my own.  On a day when it has come to light that our Conservative government is trying to secretly change our laws to allow political parties to use materials produced by the media for partisan political purposes and without compensation - something I am gravely opposed to - I feel that it would be incumbent upon me to remove this post, even though my blog is not an official Green Party blog, and that the purpose of this post is primarily satirical and not partisan in the sense of favouring one political party above all others.  Should Mr. Lamphier or officials from the Edmonton Journal review this post, I hope that they understand the satirical nature of this post, and in the interests of free speech, do not request its removal)

(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Party of Canada)

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