Monday, August 13, 2012
Taking the Fight to Them
It's time to do what they fear most - connect the dots. That means linking bitumen trafficking to the plight being inflicted on the poorest and most vulnerable peoples on Earth due to global warming. It's a link that is irrefutable.
We know that the climate change the world is now enduring is anthropogenic, man-made. We know that the rapidly changing climate results from warming of the atmosphere, global warming, through burning fossil fuels which generates atmospheric carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.
We know that all fossil fuels are not created equal. Some, such as natural gas, are less carbon-intensive than others. Others, such as coal and bitumen, are highly carbon intensive and, as such, contribute proportionately far more to anthropogenic global warming.
We know that talk of carbon capture and sequestration remains, after decades of rambling, just that - talk, empty promises. We know that, despite industry's abject failure to deliver on its carbon capture promise, the federal and Alberta governments are determined to facilitate the rapid and massive expansion of production and export of Athabasca bitumen, one of the world's very worst carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
We know that around the world the poor and vulnerable are being beset by climate change impacts, particularly floods and drought, that bring famine, pestilence, armed conflict, displacement and, to some, death. And we know this is just beginning. This is suffering of a degree and on a scale we cannot imagine.
We know that already known fossil fuel reserves exceed the amount remaining that can perhaps be safely burned by a factor of five to one. In other words, if our civilization is to survive this century - our children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, eighty per cent of those fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground. This utterly discredits anyone promoting the exploitation and consumption of the worst, most carbon intensive fossil fuels. The planet has more than adequate stocks of relatively clean, conventional fossil fuels. There is no moral case for exploiting high-carbon intensive unconventional fossil fuels.
We know that the fossil fuel industry behaves as any other corporate entity. It serves the interests of its investors and shareholders. It does not serve those interests by voluntarily incurring expenses that are not mandated. Hence, until carbon capture is mandated and industry is compelled to act, it will not act. The promise of carbon capture, advanced by industry and our governments, is a shameless hoax.
We must accept that all of this knowledge supports certain, unavoidable conclusions. Those who promote, enable, extract, produce and transport the most carbon-intensive, filthy fossil fuels are directly responsible for the disproportionate losses and suffering these unconventional fuels create even in distant corners of the world. It is an immoral trade from which the riches we reap are paid for by those already impoverished and imperilled elsewhere.
Afghan heroin trafficking or Colombian cocaine trafficking inflicts social and economic devastation elsewhere. It ruins families and destroys lives and we properly condemn it. Canadian bitumen trafficking also ruins families and destroys lives elsewhere yet we pretend not to notice even as we move to massively ramp up production and export.
To date most opposition to Tar Sands exploitation has been focused on local outcomes - tailing ponds, destruction of the boreal forest, pipeline spills, tanker catastrophes - with scant attention to what Canada is doing to the rest of the world. It's time that changed and time that the bitumen boosters in Ottawa, Alberta and elsewhere by tied tightly to the suffering they are causing and intend to continue to inflict. They have to be held accountable.