Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Why Climate Change issues won't be solved by Politicians or Capitalism

Why Climate Change issues won't be solved by Politicians or Capitalism

Liberals and Conservatives demonstrate hypocrisy on redressing Global Warming

Compiled by Super Canuck

In a 2002 fundraising letter, Mr. Harper questioned the science of climate change, calling it “tentative and contradictory” and ridiculed the Kyoto Accord as a money-sucking “socialist scheme.” In a speech delivered later that year, Mr. Harper told fellow Conservatives that “as economic policy the Kyoto Accord is a disaster. As environmental policy it is a fraud.”

With such “enlightening” insights that Harper has provided for us, let’s look at the Liberal-Conservative “Greenwash” that has engulfed the nation in the past few months in a dick measuring contest between these two unfit participants.

Liberal Inaction

The Liberals have been on the defensive since the Conservative attack ads have shed light on the Liberals inability to make the changes necessary to curb global warming and reduce pollution. Their website cites that in 2000 the Liberal government announced a $500 million five year action plan to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 65 megatonnes each year. The 65 megatonnes seems like quite a bit, unless one actually reads what Canada’s reporting facilities cite as their GHG emissions, which is at 280 megatonnes according to Environment Canada. What becomes even more interesting is that these are only the reporting facilities, which comprise one-third (37%) of Canada’s total GHG causing industries for 2005. While these reports may not be entirely accurate, Environment Canada’s best estimation as to the source of GHG emissions come from the following breakdown of industries: 44% Utilities sector, 32% Manufacturing, 18% Mining, Oil, and Gas extraction and 5% as other. When one compares this with the corporate subsidies over the past few years of the oil and gas sector at $40 billion that both Conservative and Liberal governments are responsible for, $500 million over five years seems like a pittance.
Traitors among Us

Traitors among Us is a book for further reading on this subject.
Acquire Now

In addition to this, the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental group, has estimated that federal tax breaks for Canada’s oil and gas industry are worth $1.4-billion a year. The institute has said the oil sands receive a significant share of those tax breaks but exact figures are impossible to find. Moreover, the oil sands continue to be a significant source of GHG emissions. The disparity between GHG emitting industries such as oil and gas who receive tax breaks and the money set aside to fight GHG emissions is massive. Despite this, GHG emissions are not the entire problem, often overlooked is the pollution caused by these industries that go farther then just carbon emissions.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “plan”

Mr. Harper has maintained that the Kyoto targets, agreed to by the previous Liberal government, are unattainable.

His government introduced a bill in mid-October to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions by 45-65 percent by 2050, based on 2003 emissions. However, it was widely panned for allowing emissions to continue to rise until 2020. Something most experts agree is far too late to reverse many global trends. It is important to note that these are global trends and Canada cannot act alone, the U.S. is still the world’s largest polluter, but that is no reason for Canada to act irresponsibly as well.

Mr. Harper’s most prominent flaw, beyond the obvious, would be his absolute disinterest and disengagement in what most Canadians feel is the most important issue of the day, namely the preservation of our environment.

Beyond Liberal and Conservative lies about the environment, we need to delve into the “solutions” that are being touted as our deliverance from certain disaster. I will not delve into Gore’s capitalist dream of “consumers” buying our way into a sustainable environment that would be too easy; instead, I would like to focus on carbon trading systems, the oil sands, and the disbelief held by Martin Durkin, the director of The Great Global Warming Swindle.

So-called "Emissions trading"

Emissions’ trading (voluntary offsets) is an administrative approach to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. Usually a government agency sets a limit or cap on the amount of pollutant that can be emitted by companies. If they exceed this cap, the company must buy credits from those who pollute less than their allowances, in effect fining the buyer. The problem with this free market environmentalism, is the same problem with corporate economic sanctions in other areas of the law, it becomes a good business practice to pay the fine, because the benefit of high profit outweigh the costs of breaching the agreement.

According to USA Today, the market for voluntary offsets in 2006 was nearly 20 times greater than it was in 2004. Alternet states: “Dwarfing this market is the market for what might be called involuntary offsets—that is offsets purchased as part of the mandatory emissions reductions program agreed to by the 38 industrial nation signatories of the Kyoto Protocol.”

This creates an entirely artificial “carbon market” on a global scale, one highly prone to manipulation and abuse. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank estimates the value of carbon credits now in circulation at $28 billion and predicts it will rise to $40 billion by 2010. This voluntary corporate supported carbon trading system currently in use is criticized for inflating the benefits of dreadfully small changes in emissions and offering credits for some practices that make no real difference on the climate at all.

It also pressures “developing” nations not to develop so that large corporations and countries can buy the credits made available by the unused carbon credits from developing nations. There is an inherent contradiction in this logic, we can develop, you cannot, irrespective of its effects on the health of your society, a dreadful contradiction. Another problem with this artificial market is that it encourages environmental damage, as the conversion of native forests to faster-growing commercial tree plantations by companies and governments seeking to profit from carbon credits or offsets. It also leads to the displacement of peoples whose livelihood depends on the forest.

An ill-conceived notion at best, the emissions trading program is often touted by Conservatives as a viable option for Canada to meet its targets. It should come as no surprise that those who have the money to afford the carbon credits and thus the license to pollute are the real victors in this system. So long as the poor have the costs of climate change shifted onto them to change their lifestyles, the rich factory owners can continue to make massive profits, and the elitist “green” politicians can continue to feign taking action.

Oil Sands

James Clark notes Sydney’s tar ponds will have to make way for Canada’s newest and largest ecological disaster, the Alberta oil sands. The great economic boom of Alberta is more of a bane to its original inhabitants, a perspective not often entering the dialogue of what is perceived to be Canada’s newest economic powerhouse. There are several issues that often do not enter the discourse of the oil sands, one of them being its effect on the indigenous community surrounding it.

According to the Polaris Institute, Grand Chief Herb Norwegian of the Dehcho First Nations, called on Canada and Alberta to support a moratorium on further development of the massive oil producing Athabasca Tar Sands “until some sanity can be brought into this situation.”

No doubt, the 'commercial profits before people' corporate powers are well aware that 87 percent of the Mackenzie River flows through the Northwest Territories whose decline in water has affected the fish and wildlife which in turn has affected northern inhabitants. The heavy metals such as mercury and lead, mainstays of industrial expansion, may also be a reason for the diminutive levels of certain species such as the polar bear whose affliction of a changing habitat can only made worse by poisons contaminating their surroundings. This is also a problem for individuals in northern communities who, because of the Earth’s rotation, are most effected by chemicals industry spews into the environment.

To get an understanding of just how much fresh water is being used to develop the oil sands, consider the following data. The Alberta Energy Board has estimated that Suncor Energy, who owns the oldest oil sands “development” in the region, consumed 45.5 billion barrels of water for production in 2004. Future development could consume as much as 175 million litres of water each day. In addition to this, there is widespread deforestation of the area, the oil sands are producing large amounts of acid rain, and is the largest source of new greenhouse gas emissions.

Socially and environmentally, the oil sands have already proved to be a disaster and despite the reproach by some, the following recommendation must be made. We ought to either significantly slow down the development of the oil sands, or best-case scenario, stop developing the oil sands entirely. Many will immediately state that this will negatively affect the economy, and negatively affect the working class.

I propose we get beyond this dichotomy of choosing the economy over the Earth and look at long term objectives and what the affect of eliminating the development of the oil sands will have on the level of pollution Canada is belching out. If the development of the oil sands were to stop, 25% of Canada’s total GHG emissions would be eliminated.

Twenty five percent isn’t an insignificant amount; it would certainly aid the realization of meeting our Kyoto goals and would end if not reverse the social effects to the indigenous inhabitants of the north who are disproportionably affected by companies who make mass profits. It would also consequently reduce high levels of toxins being used for production and free up fresh water, which is an extremely precious resource.

Finally, in terms of jobs Canada ought to invest its resources into funding alternative energy projects which would spur growth in the clean energy production sector.

Disbelief that fit’s Dogma

One major piece of evidence of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions causing global warming are found in ice core samples from Antarctica. These show that for hundreds of years, global warming has been accompanied by higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is what aids Gore’s “carbon is the root of all evil” movie An Inconvenient Truth. Some scientists such as Ian Clark, a paleoclimatologist of Earth Sciences department at Ottawa University, will disagree with this and Clark states this in the recent Channel 4 film The Great Global Warming Swindle. He purports to have evidence showing that warmer spells in the Earth’s history actually came an average of 800 years before the rise in CO2 levels, dispelling the belief that climate change hinges on CO2 patterns.

But here’s the rub, at certain points of prehistory temperatures, rising temperatures did start 800 years before rises in CO2, and Gore evades this point. Nevertheless, it is irrelevant to what is happening now, because for the first time ever enormous amounts of extra C02 are being released. Moreover, there are many reasons to reduce CO2, for example the high levels of CO2 are directly correlated to the loss of the arctic ice, which is likely to be free of ice by 2050, for the first time in millions of years.

While Clark fully acknowledges that recent increases in atmospheric CO2 are anthropogenic, he does not see any evidence that the “man made” increases of CO2 are driving temperature change. In fact, there are some who feel that there is a stronger correlation between solar flares and the Earths temperature then “man made” CO2 and the temperature rise.

However according to The Independent, variations in solar activity may have been responsible for past warm periods, but its hard to be entirely sure because we have only been taking good measurements of it since 1978. Recent solar increases are too small to have created the present warming, and have been less significant than greenhouse gases since about 1850. This is a point the The Great Global Warming Swindle fails to mention.

It’s important to note that CO2 only makes up a small portion of the Earth’s atmosphere, and without getting into scientific academia, we should take heed that any politician claiming to know the science could be selling you their newest brand of political posturing. The “be-all and end-all” of climate change is not simply CO2 emissions or GHG emissions, often touted as the only reasons, there are multiple factors. This is the nature of science, constant healthy scepticism, so we should not simply ignore the voices of dissent in the science community as heretics, but disagree based on sound logic and science. The science is simply more complicated then just the CO2 levels, although they are important, its not entirely what Al Gore would have you believe.

I make mention of this because it is important for all of us to not get carried away with the politics of global climate change now that it has become the newest brand of social control for politicians. Remaining as objective as we can, without denying or affirming anything to the extent of dogmatism, may be our best bet not to be used by those who would profit from us.

Irrespective of Global Warming, pollution in the very general sense is still a problem for the Earth and everything in it, something that large corporations, who profit most from petrochemicals and pollution, seem to disregard as unimportant. It follows then, that they will not be apart of the solution.

The current environmental plan put forward by the Harper administration is filled with the empty promises of yesteryear (and other disingenuous so-called "commitments" that can be easily retracted if the Conservatives ever won a majority government). The Harper minority government and Dion's Liberals are disappointments for those hoping for real change in our pollution and related Global Warming generating policies.

Oilsandstruth.org is not associated with any other web site or organization. Please contact us regarding the use of any materials on this site.

Tar Sands Photo Albums by Project

Discussion Points on a Moratorium

User login


Syndicate content