Friday, May 23, 2014

A Reality Check

The environment and the mainstream media have become much more acquainted from when I began my career.  Environment was a bad word.  Granola crunchers and tree huggers.  I made a conscious choice several decades ago that I would help development be better.  Do development better.  Fast forward a couple of decades and industry is bad, profit is bad, energy is bad.  And together will all this badness, the destruction of the environment.  The oilsands have been targeted in a broad array of efforts and campaigns to malign the practice of extraction, processing and transportation of oilsands.

As one that has traveled reasonably far and seen a wide variety of lifestyles and realities in standards of living, I am grateful for the standard of living and security that Canada represents.  The energy we produce from the oilsands and all the other conventional/unconventional business provides for lifestyle choices we have all made, and continue to make every day.  It frustrates me to listen to a variety of voices denouncing the practices in the energy industry in Alberta, when in fact, it is one of the most regulated and monitored industrial centers of activity across the globe.  This center of activity is responsible for vibrant economies and healthy happy communities that are full of productive and innovative people advancing human progress.

And the oilsands is a favorite whipping boy of massive and uncontrolled damage to the environment.  This is not to say that the oilsands is not a significant impact to the existing environment.  There are significant challenges when extracting resources anywhere, anytime.  The intent is to continually improve and find better ways to do whatever you are doing.  To improve efficiency across the energy materials continuum in the energy development process.  The lands where industry develops our energy resources will eventually be returned to a natural state.  Whether or not you agree with those final reclamation objectives or outcomes, it generally becomes a discussion of the different values of different landscapes and all the different views the humans can present.

On the other hand, it is also to say that it is valuable to keep some perspective.  The photo below is a local site within the city limits (City of Calgary).  The longer term implications of this behaviour and others similarly across the City, or the Province, or the Country are no more or less "bad".  The impacts from these sorts of circumstances is no less severe than large mining operations or forestry operations or other development initiatives on greenfield or brownfield sites.  These are potentially significant impacts of impairment to downstream users and to public safety and water/habitat quality to local communities and the natural environment.  The conversation has to start with an acknowledged value for the natural environment.  Unless the natural environment is valued in some manner, it will continue to be treated as discarded and valueless.

No comments: