Sunday, 12 October 2014

Disrespecting the Environment

"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?" -- Robert Redford

This weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, where most people gather with family and friends to celebrate what we have in our lives.  Sadly, the one thing that should be celebrated and protected often is not.

A few years ago there was a border dispute between Quebec and Newfoundland, regarding the potential development of a 29-kilometer-long undersea oil and natural gas deposit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence known as "Old Harry".  It's estimated that this area will be able to serve Quebec's energy needs for the next 25 years.  But exploration has been stalled because nobody seems to know or agree on where the provincial border lies.   More recently, Quebec has continued to explore the St. Lawrence River estuary for natural gas fracking sites.

Clearly nobody involved with these schemes has learned anything from what happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a huge breeding and migratory area for hundreds of species, including the endangered beluga whale.  It provides the livelihood for numerous towns along the coast, in terms of both fishing and tourism.  All it would take is one accident to destroy all that.

Oil development, whether on shore or off, has the potential to be extremely destructive of the environment. Shale gas drilling is not much safer, due to methane emissions and contamination of groundwater.  A reminder: less than TEN PERCENT of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska has been recovered, and the region is still suffering.

I once saw an application making the rounds of Facebook in which you entered the name of your city, and a projection of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was overlaid on a map of the region.  I tried it; centered on Montreal, the spill covered almost the entire St. Lawrence river valley from Gananoque to Rivière-du-Loup. It's scary to think about.

There have been continued calls from political opponents for a moratorium on offshore drilling, but it's unlikely that anyone will listen.  We do need to develop more alternative energy sources - wind, solar, water, tidal, - and SOON.  Oil and its derivatives will not last forever.  What will happen when it runs out?  The world economy will collapse, and anarchy will result.

We are poisoning our environment at an alarming rate, but many people who have the potential to do anything to help, such as world leaders and politicians, are turning a blind eye in favour of the Almighty Dollar.  I have one thing to say about that: without alternatives, your money will be worth nothing.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, alternative sources of energy seem to be even MORE expensive than traditional oil, and it's difficult for a regular person to switch over. I'd like to see these made more widely available AND more affordable to the average person...I'd happily drive an electric car if I could actually afford one.