Friday, June 06, 2014

A Living, Breathing Dinosaur

Stephen Harper has always suffered from delusions of grandeur. Linda McQuaig writes:

Relatively little has been said about his grandiosity. Only months after becoming prime minister in 2006, he showed it off in an overseas speech that attracted surprisingly little attention in Canada.

Outlining his plan to turn Canada into an “energy superpower,” he told the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce in London that developing the “ocean of oil-soaked sand” in northern Alberta would be “an enterprise of epic proportions, akin to the building of the Pyramids or China’s Great Wall. Only bigger.”

His is, indeed, an epic vision. But it is an epic vision with satanic undertones:

Harper’s struggle is epic, although not in the way he meant. It’s epic in that it pits him and a group of largely foreign investors against those willing to act to preserve the planet for human habitation — a group which now includes the U.S. government.

The simple reality is that much of the oil in the tarsands will have to remain in the ground if there is to be any hope of curbing the out-of-control growth of greenhouse gas emissions, currently on track to drive up the world’s temperature by six degrees Celsius within a few decades — a scenario considered semi-catastrophic by the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organization created by the leading Western nations.

There is another option:

Due to the marvels of modern technology, the world now has the technical capacity to move to a post-carbon age. The International Energy Agency is clear about this. In a report last month, the agency — which is the energy equivalent of the OECD or the IMF — pointed out that it is possible for the world to “decarbonise almost all power generation by 2050.”

Sure, but we’d all be back in the Stone Age, right? Employment would be confined to shovel-ready pyramids.

Actually, no. The IEA estimated the global cost of moving to a post-carbon world at $44 trillion — which sounds like a deal-breaker until you read on and discover that this massive cost would be more than offset by $115 trillion in fuel savings, resulting in a net saving of $71 trillion.

Does that mean the transition would be costless?

Overall, yes. Huge numbers of new jobs would be created as we redesigned our entire economy for a green technology age, just as happened years ago when we moved to the age of the railway and combustion engine.

But Mr. Harper sold his soul to Big Oil long ago. He has become one of those beasts whose demise created the oil industry. He is one of the last living, breathing dinosaurs.


Hugh said...

BC Hydro provides 10,000 megawatts, about 95% of which is renewable hydro power.

In BC we could try to get away from using fossil fuels, and live within that hydro capacity, using ideas like electric rail, super insulated, passive solar homes etc.

Owen Gray said...

And that is why, if the Northern Gateway Pipeline is approved, I expect that BCers will erupt in fury, Hugh.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, I took a bit of time this morning to imagine what Canada would be under a Mulcair or Trudeau government. How would that differ from Harper's reign? What exactly had either opposition leader pledged to undo, to set right?

We have had ample time to envision the Canada we want,post-Harper,and how we should change the country to reverse Harper's excesses. Despite that it's difficult to see where these characters stand beyond their pledged fealty to the Tar Sands operators. The rest is an empty slate.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Mound. Until -- and unless -- one of our leaders has the courage to take on Big Oil, we are all frogs in the pot.

Danneau said...

Welcome to the world of Joseph Heller and Murphy, with a little Alice In Wonderland thrown in for good measure.

Owen Gray said...

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Danneau.

mogs moglio said...

Mound of Sound,

My father lived on submarines during WWII and they already had a very sophisticated carbon separation system once you strip the carbon from CO2 you are left with pure oxygen.

And where does the carbon go?

The Americans took the technology for their 'space race' how can you live in a tin can far above the oxygenated atmosphere and survive?

That is the question if we do not capture the carbon spewing out of our motor city madness machines we will destroy the garden of eden. We were never kicked out of it that was a lie to make us slaves to the system of destruction.

I did the math and chemistry and an oxygen rebreather works for motor vehicles but apparently nobody is interested so not am I only ashamed to be Canadian I am also ashamed to be human for being a part in the madness to race to destroy the most beautiful planet ever discovered, Earth. If you only knew, take the h of the end of Earth and put it in front you end up with heart, those that are choosing to destroy this jewel in the heart of the cosmos have no heart and that is the real problem we are facing as a species.

Owen Gray said...

We have the technology to move beyond carbon, Mogs. But the Oil Industry -- and Mr. Harper -- are not going to encourage its development.

mogs moglio said...

Yes true Owen and well spoken as always; my gripe is we have always had the technology to strip the carbon out of exhaust and nobody cares.

So we are face with 6 protons 6 electrons and 6 neutrons (carbon) destroying our habitat. Isn't that fascinating 666?

Owen Gray said...

I've never seen it that way, Mogs. However you add it up, it equals trouble -- no, disaster -- unless we choose a different path.