Monday, February 11, 2013

TARPing Athabasca?

It now seems only a matter of time before major investors start pulling their money out of bitumen.

The markets are waking up to the reality of a Carbon Bubble in which high-carbon, high-cost fossil fuels have been exposed as the worst bet ever.   They're coming to grasp that the worst fossil fuels could become "stranded assets" in the near future.

The Financial Times sounded the Carbon Bubble warning a few days back.   Today it was announced that Oxford researchers are launching a four-year study into assets that may become stranded due to climate change.   In January of last year the Governor of the Bank of England received a warning from a blue ribbon panel of British investors, politicians and scientists that London markets were at risk from sub-prime fossil fuel resources being carried on the books of major energy companies at wildly unrealistic values.

Last February a particularly astute (not to mention witty and handsome) blogger pondered whether Canada's own petro-pols in Ottawa and Edmonton were setting the Canadian economy up for a crash.

If/when the financial markets turn away from bitumen what happens then?   Does Harper go on bended knee to the Politburo in Beijing?   Does he firesale Athabasca to the Communist Chinese?  I suppose that's one option in a scenario that is truly short on options.

What does a rational person do confronted with such harsh realities?   Why am I asking that?   This is about Steve Harper, the man who has little time for science or facts or reality.   All we need to know about Steve's fitness to handle looming disaster we learned from the gross incompetence he displayed in failing to notice the great meltdown of 2008 thundering down on Canada and the world.  You know, the Great Recession he claimed that nobody could have foreseen (except for everyone who actually did).

Could this be enough to send Steve and his cabinet generals into the bunker?   If Big Money deserts Athabasca could Steve choose to fight it out to the end?   Could he take a page out of Obama's playbook and warp it into a TARP-style bailout of the Tar Sands?   Would Harper's cowed, majority caucus let him double down on an already lost bet?

Athabasca may teach us just how far Harper's delusions will take Canada.


Owen Gray said...

The tar sands could become Harper's Moby Dick, Mound. Unfortunately, there would be relatively few Ishmaels left to tell the tale.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't have much confidence that Harper wouldn't inflict irreparable harm on the Canadian economy, Owen.

As an aside, have you ever read "Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex"? It's the factual narrative from 1821 of a white sperm whale's attack on the whaler Essex and the three month ordeal of the survivors.

The Lyons Press edition includes a facsimile of Melville's notes on one of the crew's narratives. It's a great read.

Owen Gray said...

I've heard of the book, Mound. But I confess I've never read it.