A fossil fuel corporate giant, Petronas, plans to build new natural gas (LNG) terminals on BC’s west coast. And sure enough, our new Minister of Energy and Mines, Rich Coleman, was on CBC and elsewhere promoting the export of gas—he was saying that: gas is good, gas is clean, gas will create jobs. Sorry Mr. Coleman, it’s not true.
Contradicting the idea that gas is good was an article from our own BC Royal Roads University—the MC-3 group—which says that emissions of greenhouse gases from the natural gas sector are significantly greater than reported, and may lead to a 20% loss of natural gas into our atmosphere—equivalent to more that two million cars on our roads.
Therefore, increasing gas exports will cause more climate change damage to our economy than admitted by government or industry. Natural gas is not clean. In effect, Mr. Coleman is ignoring our need for a sustainable climate or economy.
The effort to export more and more gas and oil and coal is short-term economic thinking that will cause enormous damage to our economy from climate change impacts in the future. The victims of this short-term thinking, our kids, will have to deal with the damage.
I am discouraged because it’s not just about Mr. Coleman—it’s about us. Any expression of concern for the environment, or the next generation, is like putting a dead rat in front of a nest of maggots—it starts an automatic feeding frenzy of self-entitlement. Hey, don’t we have a right to burn as much fuel as we want: for our immediate pleasure, for our gas-guzzling cars, for taking huge planes for their vacation, and for as many ocean cruises as we damn well want?
Yup, climate change is a fact and economic damage is piling up—Hurricane Sandy alone will cost about $70 billion. So a rational, and moral, response would be to phase out burning fossil fuels. Carbon emissions from anywhere in the world go into our common atmosphere to destroy our shared climate—a classic case of the tragedy of the commons.
Lots of people in government know that—hey, we have a climate action secretariat within our own BC government. But Mr. Coleman ignores inconvenient facts and focuses on his immediate political needs. Sometimes I feel as tired as that dead rat.
We must tackle the very big task of phasing out the burning of fossil fuels. Maybe a lot of people need to die before our leaders act—more hurricanes, more tornadoes, more flooding and more droughts.
I sure hope a change in attitude comes soon, because I need a holiday—a flightless passage on a cargo freighter to Europe—yes, it’s possible.
Alternatives to exporting more gas or oil or coal are also possible and available. We have the technology to switch to renewable energy sources that would create more local jobs and allow our kids a good sustainable life. Mr. Coleman, what is so hard about that concept?
Peter Nix is an Environmental Scientist, retired Cowichan Carbon Buster who resides in Maple Bay, BC.