Pipelines: Which side are you on, planet or profit?

Since the Northern Gateway pipeline hit the news, the regina mom has read more posts about science than ever before.  And it’s not because science claims a place in her higher reading order.  Rather, it’s because the HarperCon response to public outrage about the pipeline has forced her to know wtf she’s talking about.  Or try to, anyway.


David Suzuki says that’s a good thing, that “science literacy is good for society.”  So there.  trm is doing it for the good of society!  Suzuki also says,


In an open society, leaders who have nothing to hide and who base their decisions on the best available evidence should have no reason to muzzle scientists, or anyone else. Just as parents should help children find relevant facts and encourage exploration, governments have a responsibility to make sure we have access to good information.


Having answers to our children’s questions is not enough. If we want societies that provide the maximum benefit for the most people over the longest time, and if we want to find solutions to the challenges and problems we’ve created, we must teach our children and ourselves how to find and evaluate answers objectively. Making science education a priority is an important part of that.


Did the HarperCons have poor science education?  Because it’s clear they’re not responding to science or the very real dangers this project would create, unless to twist it for political points.  What interest, then, does it serve the HarperCon government in ignoring all this?  That question was answered when trm read US environmentalist and Distinguished Scholar, Bill McKibbon’s dispatch:


The open question is why the industry persists in denial in the face of an endless body of fact showing climate change is the greatest danger we’ve ever faced.


Why doesn’t it fold the way the tobacco industry eventually did? Why doesn’t it invest its riches in things like solar panels and so profit handsomely from the next generation of energy? As it happens, the answer is more interesting than you might think.


Part of it’s simple enough: the giant energy companies are making so much money right now that they can’t stop gorging themselves. ExxonMobil, year after year, pulls in more money than any company in history. Chevron’s not far behind. Everyone in the business is swimming in money.


Still, they could theoretically invest all that cash in new clean technology or research and development for the same. As it happens, though, they’ve got a deeper problem, one that’s become clear only in the last few years. Put briefly: their value is largely based on fossil-fuel reserves that won’t be burned if we ever take global warming seriously.


And that’s it, isn’t it?  The HarperCons are the party of big business, of the corporate sect that lined the Conservative Party coffers for the last election and they now have the ear of government.  Why, the CEO of Enbridge accompanied the PM on the trip to China!  That certainly doesn’t make the HarperCons look impartial to the pipeline now, does it?  Enbridge’s big  boss seems emboldened by the gesture, asserting that he has already offered enough to First Nations who would be impacted by his pipeline. “We think the financial package we’re offering is very, very strong, so we don’t have any intent (or) consideration on changing that,” is what he told the Reuters news agency.


No doubt he’s been crunching numbers.  He couldn’t offer more; it’d cut into his bottom line.  Make no mistake, that’s what this is all about, the bottom line.  Back to McKibbon for a moment.  He reminds trm that oil is a finite resource.  Oil execs and their minions, aka our governments, are racing to beat the pending disaster  inherent in continued GHG production, the distaster science is telling us we must avoid.  But keeping oil reserves in the ground, he says, would impact the oil industry’s bottom line by $20 trillion.  And that, in McKibbon’s words,


…would be a disaster, first and foremost for shareholders and executives of companies like ExxonMobil (and people in places like Venezuela). If you run an oil company, this sort of write-off is the disastrous future staring you in the face as soon as climate change is taken as seriously as it should be, and that’s far scarier than drought and flood. It’s why you’ll do anything — including fund an endless campaigns of lies — to avoid coming to terms with its reality.


NDP Member of Parliament Megan Leslie gets it.  She is not afraid to look at the reality of the situation and look to a solution.


We must recognize our fossil fuel stock as a precious resource that we can use strategically to provide jobs today, but also ensure longer-term job security by using the short-term wealth they create to transition us towards new industries. We need to stop denying the writing on the wall, and develop prudent strategies to find ways to transfer the skills and knowledge that the workers in the oilsands have toward green energy industries.


A green jobs strategy would include extending the ecoENERGY home retrofit program, which the Conservatives have just cancelled, because it has created economic spinoffs of $10 for every $1 invested by the government while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint. Jobs can be created through investing in green infrastructure projects, enhanced public transit and green research and development, all of which will spur economic development in every community in Canada.

But the HarperCons aren’t set on taking us there.  So, what do we do?  McKibbon:



Telling the truth about climate change would require pulling away the biggest punchbowl in history, right when the party is in full swing. That’s why the fight is so pitched. That’s why those of us battling for the future need to raise our game.


We’ve started, that’s for sure.  But we need to pump it up a few notches if we want the attention of the HarperCons.  Make no mistake about it, we can do it!



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  1. I’ve always said that once moms get woken up to the issue of climate change, and see the clear and present danger the greed of the fossil fools and our politicians are posing to our children’s future, a mighty force will be unleashed. Look out, SH and your minions!

  2. greenvie

     /  February 9, 2012

    Thanks again, trm, for your unflagging work each day! I don’t know how you do it. Each article sends me off on a reading excursion for the facts. We all know what’s going on, but seeing it written in black and white and with so much passion makes the tar sands fiasco even more real, and thus gives us better tools to fight with. Don’t normally like a fight, but it’s what it is.

  3. I hear you, Christine. In my 25+ years of activism, I’ve never seen anything like what I’m seeing now. It’s quite remarkable!

    And greenvie, I don’t know how I do it, either. I just know I can’t not do it. I’m fortunate in that I’m self-employed, so staying up til 4 a.m. to finish a post is doable. I’ve mellowed in my middle age — or perhaps wisened up — because I prefer to look for compromise than to dig my heels in. But on this issue and with these types, there’s no compromise!

    Thanks so much for reading and, beyond that, for commenting. It also helps me continue to do this!

  4. Toe

     /  February 9, 2012

    The broader theme is Canadians are being forced to accept the American value systems. And those are being shaped by the globalization of technology, trade, culture etc. Harper is homogenizing us and lowering standards.

  5. Mike

     /  February 9, 2012

    unfortunately, your title sums up the positions of the “left” and the “right” all too well. The issue is not so polarized; like Dubya said about fighting terrorism “Either you’re with us or you’re against us”. There was no room being allowed for some moderation or even rationale debate. Same goes for these debates. Its not about profit *OR* planet. Throughout history, we have made profits. And had a planet to do so on.

    Granted, the big pendulum has swung back to too much “profit” mentality like in the mid 20th century. And we are fightlng hard to stop that momentum. But as we are slowly succeeding, the key will be finding viability for both positions because the long term success of both depends of the survival of the other,

    Symbioticism at its best .. as with all things

  6. Mike, would you be so kind as to provide me with a link supporting your claim that, “Throughout history, we have made profits”?

    And could you please tell me why I should want the profit motive to succeed when, as I believe I have demonstrated with my posts over the past few weeks, the profit motive is killing people, animals, plants, ecosystems.

    And perhaps you could also enlighten me as to the symbiotic relationship between profit and Earth. Profit is, I believe, a human construct. Earth is an interconnected organism. Earth will survive without profit. How does profit survive without Earth?

    Do we not, as creatures whose footprints are enormous upon this planet, have an obligation to draw a line in the sand? Do we not have a right and a responsibility to stand up and say, ENOUGH? Must we submit to profit as though we are slaves?

  7. Pipelines can be considered as the energy lifelines of human daily activities.Pipeline’s role is not only concentrated to our daily life’s but also,they are used to the nation’s industry standards.The pipeline companies are assigned the task of construction, operation, and maintenance of its pipeline systems in a safe, environmentally sound manner.

    pipeline companies canada

  8. How interesting, “Carol” that you left the exact same comment on another post here at trm on February 16, 2012. Are you being paid well?


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