Right now, my Facebook is split between rural Albertans criticizing the NDP, and those around the University of Alberta, sharply criticizing anyone blaming the government for the province's economic woes.
I find it incredibly tiresome hearing the same argument over and over again by government supporters:
“The government is not to blame for the layoffs occurring in the oil and gas industry. These are due to depressed oil prices. Laid off workers need to find a scapegoat to funnel their frustration, and the provincial government is the convenient target.”
True, the WTI oil price is in the dumps right now. But oil sands crude doesn’t sell at WTI prices -- it sells at the marked down Western Canada Select price.
Why is it marked down?
Because even though WCS is a lower grade type of oil, it is dogged by one monumental problem:
The lack of pipeline infrastructure makes it expensive to get the product to global markets.
Well, we can thank our enlightened environmental crusaders for that, including some in the present government. (Graham Mitchell, anyone?) Anti-pipeline lobby groups have smothered new pipeline approvals in Alberta. So much for Big Oil’s lobby money.
I’ll play the devil’s advocate and accept the premise that climate change is here, and if humanity doesn’t act to stop it, we will drive ourselves into extinction.
This brings us to Notley’s inconvenient truth:
Regardless of what the NDP government does to the Albertan oil and gas sector, it cannot make the slightest dent in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
This is undisputable.
Here’s an analogy:
Let's imagine the world's total greenhouse gas emissions as filling a standard 80L bathtub.
If the Alberta oil sands completely shut down tomorrow, global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of a half cup of water (118mL) or only 0.16%.
If we take the emission target reduction that's part of Alberta's new carbon tax (minus 5 megatonnes of C02 per year compared to the amount before the tax) that 118mL of water falls to 29.5mL.
Not only this, but every year a new bathtub is created, minus the 29.5mL of course.
Undaunted by reality, the NDP supporter will parrot Notley herself:
“But Alberta must take a leading role on combating climate change."
So what does this mysterious leading role consist of? What does a country (or province) have to do to attain this “leading role”? What are the ramifications if a country does not have a “leading role” in combating climate change?
Well, it turns out that China has been underestimating (i.e. lying) their greenhouse gas emissions by one billion tonnes of CO2.
That figure is over 18 times larger than the amount emitted by the entire Albertan oil sands.
And who can say these Chinese emission levels are accurate? We’re talking about a communist dictatorship that lies when the truth becomes inconvenient.
But wait, it gets better.
China promises it is going to do its part to combat climate change.
Just not for the next 15 years.
And during each of these 15 years, they are allowed to drastically increase their emission levels. What glorious communist progress!
I can confidently say that China will suffer no ramifications related this one billion tonne gap in their data.
This is because, in the real world, being a "leader" or a laggard in "combating climate change" has no tangible value.
The goal of the climate change conference in Paris this December won’t be to reduce output sufficiently enough to “stop climate change;" China’s actions alone has shown the impossibility of this task.
The Paris conference is simply a thinly veiled attempt by poorer nations to get money from the richer ones, as their penance for the alleged sin of developing the most prosperous society mankind has ever seen.
Notley and the NDP believe that if Alberta can phase out the dirty ol’ tar sands, they’ll be able to claim a smug superiority and sleep tight knowing the bathtub has a half-cup less.
Collateral damage in the form of a destroyed economy needn’t worry them, for as long as they feel morally superior, all is good and well.
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