Oil sands are a triumph for the human ‘environment’ – by Rex Murphy (National Post – March 17, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Rex Murphy offers commentary weekly on CBC TV’s The National, and is host of CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup.

I’m lucky to be going to Fort McMurray, Alta. this weekend with colleagues from CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup. I have a great wish to see what the green Jeremiahs deem to be the greatest blot on the visage of Mother Gaia, and to meet some of the soulless folk who work there. After all, environmentalists might ask: Who would take a job on a site that threatens the destiny of the planet, except people whose souls have been bought off with oil-company lucre?
 
Outside Fort McMurray, it is impossible to escape the furor over the Alberta oilsands. Its product is routinely described, lazily and slanderously, as the dirtiest on the planet. The Premier of Ontario, a province that owes much of its prosperity to its huge automobile industry shivers when he looks at Alberta, mutters about the dark forces of the “petro-dollar,” and implied (until he was scolded and half-recanted) that somehow Ontario’s fretful financial state is Alberta’s fault.
 
It’s almost a fantasy disconnect. Dalton Mcguinty can throw billions at General Motors and urge the feds to do the same, all to save the automobile industry. He ignores that four decades or more of Ontario’s prosperity wasn’t founded on windmills: It was based on gas-guzzling cars and trucks.

Down in the States, Fort MacMurray is the green lobby’s ultimate bogeyman. Environmental groups raise money by attacks on the oilsands. Fort McMurray and the Keystone XL pipeline that would take its bounty south. This rhetoric has even made it into presidential politics. The shameless and high-gloss National Geographic put out a hit-issue deploring the oilsands as the ultimate “polluter.”
 
Are Canadians falling for this propaganda, too? The bounty of our country has made us complacent, even smug, about the resource extraction that makes it possible. Canada is at the very forefront of the world’s developed nations. Our schools, hospitals, universities, arts and industries are at the very top of the chain — all because we have the energy to drive an economy that can support these great boons.
 
Yet how easily we bite the hand that feeds us. “Environment” has become a narrow, bitterly focussed word turning exclusively on hurts or despoilations of nature, magnifying the slightest alteration or disturbance of “the natural” as an unspeakable sin.

For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/17/rex-murphy-oil-sands-are-a-triumph-for-the-human-environment/

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