I just watched the tail end of James Cameron’s press conference. I appreciate his concern for the environment, and I appreciate and respect his desire to improve this planet. What I question however is the grandstanding of a hollywood movie mogul in my backyard, while his backyard produces more carbon, and burns more fossil fuel than almost anywhere in the modern world.
He brings no new thinking to the table on how to improve processes, efficiency or the schedule for making the oil-sands sustainable nor does he bring an alternate mechanism for the production of energy that will retain the livelihoods his rhetoric will take away.
I haven’t seen footage of Cameron flying in a helicopter over the coal ash spill into the Emory River in Tennessee. I haven’t seen him investigating the fracking processes in the Marcellus Shale formations in Pennsylvania. He hasn’t publicly spoken about the BP deep-water spill. He didn’t speak out about Centralia PA, which is still on fire. Since 1910, when 375 million gallons of oil filled the landscape in Kern County, and perhaps before, the United States has had it’s own running list of energy related environmental disasters. Three mile island, Love Canal, Hanford, or the PG and E debacle of Erin Brockovich fame – the list goes on.
As energy sectors grow, they make mistakes. We learn, and continually improve processes. Though the Alberta Native community has been directly impacted by the history of extraction in Fort McMurray, they are a handful amongst the millions worldwide who have suffered as a result of big business and energy.
I’ve said it before. The oil-sands are a dirty, painful, expensive business. But they are the business of Alberta. No Albertan would say that they are proud of the environmental impacts of oil-sands development. We can say however that we are proud to be working hard, raising our families well, and learning from our mistakes. Time will dictate the the end-game impacts to the landscape, and give us the opportunity to do better.
The rhetoric and negative press will not stop these operations. They are necessary to supply our dependence on fossil fuels. Sadly these eco-terrorist and celebrity incursions to our energy business are putting hard working families out of work.
When the primary exports of a region are made unsalable, there is a moral and ethical impact. This business exists today. We’re not doing impact studies before shovels hit dirt. In the long term, what is more important – finding sustainable measures to retain working families while improving the environmental impact of our activities, or shutting them down as a result of greenpeace politics, leaving gaping holes in the earth and unemployed labour in the midst of a destroyed economy?