The extraction of oil pollutes and destroys livelihoods, lives, and ecosystems. Not much room for argument there: look at the results of BP’s gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, Royal Dutch Shell’s presence in Nigeria, and Chevron’s inherited mess in Ecuador. Then, once the oil is out of the ground our use of it pollutes even more. Burning fossil fuels increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere - warming the planet. W also create deadly smog in our urban areas by zipping around in our cars instead of taking public transit. Moreover, we destroy vast areas of pristine boreal forest by mining tar sands. (“Reclaimed” land is never as biologically diverse as untouched land.) Moreover, those toxic tailings ponds produced by tar sands mining are really nasty - and 7 out of 9 tar sands extractors do not plan to comply with Regulation 074 on capturing and reducing toxic tailings between 2011 and 2013. The decision is in: our use of oil is disastrous.
But, in a bizarre way, BP’s gusher may turn out to be a positive.
Have I gone mad? No – not exactly – I just spotted a glimmer of hope. The Friday, June 11, 2010 Report on Business section of the Globe and Mail contained several promising items. The lead headline reads “Spill Puts New Oil Frontiers at Risk.” (page B1 ) In other words, politicians and regulators and the public are now aware that another spill is inevitable if we continue drilling as we have. A smaller headline reads “Cheap, abundant, politically secure oil in no longer available.” That article continues on page B5. “According to a new Deutsche Bank report, this is the end of the oil age as we knew it….and our behaviour must change to recognize that. “ So this spill, horrible an environmental disaster that it is, is also an opportunity for environmental activists.
We should use increased awareness on the part of the public and politicians to prevent the lifting of the moratorium on drilling for oil off the coast of British Columbia. Write Mr. Campbell and tell him offshore drilling is too risky. We should also work to shutdown the Enbridge Gateway North Pipeline to coastal BC as, once it is in place, oil tankers will sail BC’s pristine coast – and eventually spill oil. (The Dogwood Initiative Project is already fighting this – check out their website at http://dogwoodinitiative.org/ if you want to work on this project.) Thirdly, we should push both provincial and federal governments to invest in light rapid transit and clean energy. Encourage everyone you know to write to the Right Honorable Stephen Harper, to their federal MP, and to the provincial representatives.