Sunday, March 08, 2015

Oilface

There was a sign on an office door at one of my universities that stated "Nothing destroys a beautiful hypothesis like an ugly fact." This is where we are in Canada right now.

The crude hypothesis the current government saw was that great mass of oil and gas sitting under Alberta (and a few other places) was going to make everyone rich. They looked at the numbers, talked to their corporate buddies, and everyone went into paroxysms of excitement because Canada was going to be an energy superpower and the future would be sunshine and lollipops for the people the Conservatives think matter. The reasoning was very simple: 1. Canada  has a lot of oil. 2. Oil is worth a lot of money. 3. [Insert Tony Montana quote here]

The ugly fact or facts are: Canadian oil is locked up in sand underneath the boreal forest, or at the bottom of the Arctic or North Atlantic. It is difficult and absurdly costly to extract and only makes money if the street price of oil is steep. Think of it this way. In Saudi Arabia, you can have a nice time getting a suntan whilst you stick a spigot into the ground to get the oil. In Canada, you have to deal with blackflies, mosquitos, ice and snow and use giant machines to strip away hectares and hectares of trees and soil, all of which impose costs. The other ugly fact, is that we're just getting serious about the oil business when the rest of the world is moving on because science shows oil to be  extremely hazardous to the planetary health. Naturally, the trepanated contrarian geniuses in the Conservative Party are doing the equivalent of investing in big tobacco after the cancer link was demonstrated.

So instead of looking at the facts and thinking about other ways the capitalising on Canada's capacities, the current government has doubled down on the oil sector. However, to do this, they have to criminalise reality and corrupt national institutions. The Cons, oil-bidness, the RCMP and CSIS all appear to be in bed together desperately trying make a go of the Tar Sands. "Anti-petroleum activists" are now potential terrorists lumped-in with fanatical mass-murderers. It's insane of course, as these guys are hell-bent on wrecking the country in pursuit of what is basically a very bad investment decision. It also suggests the POTUS is now on a Canadian watch-list, given that he's openly calling Canadian oil filthy and disgusting? Good-luck with that.

As I said before, they do not get that there is simply no win for them here. Renewable energy is at or near cost parity with oil, almost every other country in the world is working towards massive reductions in fossil fuel use because climate change. Canada will be reduced to selling dime-barrels of shitty product in global back-alleys, while our furious leader is holed-up in a cupboard at 24 Sussex and his remaining loyalists are outside making a last ditch stand against reality.

6 comments:

Steve said...

Oilface. I wish Justin would use this as a metaphor for Harper. Canada used to be a soft power just chugging along. Then Harper decided we were warriors fighting on the side of intractable conflicts. So now that we are a Target, we will fail just as hard as the store that had no idea what is Canada.

Way Way Up said...

Harper certainly doesn't do us any favours by portraying my community as nothing more than an oil town. It's extremely frustrating for those of use who actually live here and give a fuck about our community other than just coming here for 6 months to make a quick buck.

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