Last week a gathering of practicing engineers and UBC engineering students were addressed by Jim Shepard, former CEO of Canfor, who in June 2011 was appointed as senior policy advisor to Premier Christy Clark. His first message was that when a system is not functioning properly one first finds out what its present state is, and then determines what you would like its state to be. Then you figure out how to get there.
Applying this to the current situation, we find our climate is one that is heading out of control, and that what we want is to return to previous conditions and a sustainable environment. Expanding the oil and gas industries and building oil and gas pipelines are exactly the wrong thing to do. They will hasten global warming and will make the oceans even more acidic. The money spent on them will be billions of dollars and those putting in that investment will expect to get profits for many decades to come. The long-term jobs they would bring would be few, raising the employment level by perhaps 0.1 per cent, an amount that is barely significant.
The society we want is one which has a long-term sustainability, one that uses far less oil and gas, one in which everyone is adequately fed and living in a warm home with intellectual nourishment. It would eliminate the rat race that most people suffer; it would be much quieter and more civilized. The same billions of dollars the oil and gas industry wants to spend on oil and gas could get us to this state and provide lots of "green" jobs in the process.
This will require government to provide leadership and incentives since the neo-liberal policies so loved by the plutocracy will not get us there. Who is willing to lead us there?
David Huntley, Burnaby
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