Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The incredible logic of planetary destruction – rationalizing a new oil refinery on the B.C. coast

Media tycoon David Black says he wants to protect the B.C. marine environment he loves from an oil spill that could result from tankers shipping bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to China and other overseas markets. To this end, he just announced that he has the necessary financial backing for his proposed oil refinery at Kitimat, which would convert bitumen into gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum products.

His logic is that a spill of gasoline and diesel would be less harmful to the marine environment than bitumen. Presumably this is true.

But like any school child, Mr. Black must be aware that we need to stop investing in facilities and infrastructure that put carbon pollution into the atmosphere – whether that occurs here or in China. Long lived investments, like his proposed refinery and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would feed it, last many decades. Yet, scientists tell us repeatedly, and with increasing urgency, that global emissions need to start falling in this decade to have any chance of not increasing temperatures more than 2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a tipping point that is likely to unleash storms, droughts, epidemics and eventually significant sea level rise.

Mr. Black does not talk about how we prevent this catastrophe. This is not surprising – because his proposed refinery is not part of a healthy path for the planet and our children. The healthy path requires investments that produce zero-carbon electricity and biofuels for our vehicles, that prevents export of fossil fuel products to anyone who burns them to release more carbon pollution, and that combines with other leading jurisdictions to apply trade measures to pressure such countries to stop polluting.

And here is the biggest irony of all. Mr. Black justifies his proposal by his desire to protect the coastal marine environment. But this requires that he close his eyes (and distract the rest of us with baubles of jobs and tax revenue) to the effect that carbon pollution has on the oceans. Report after report from marine scientists track how rising CO2 concentrations in the oceans are killing sea life, starting with scallops and other acid-sensitive organisms. Mr. Black and his project would help advance the very destruction he claims he wants to avoid. The logic is astounding. And yet no one in the mainstream media is talking about this.

No comments:

Post a Comment