October 21st, 2020

Climate crisis: The enemy is us

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on November 28, 2019.

By Al Barnhill

In his famous 1972 comic strip, Walt Kelly depicts disastrous conditions to come. Pogo and his friend Porkypine are sitting on the exposed roots of a large, dead tree. They are looking sadly at a property covered with piles of trash É empty cans and packages, bicycle parts, broken-down cars, discarded appliances and rubber tires, colourful plastics and much more garbage, and Pogo remarks, “… we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Fast forward to the present. Excessive trash has become a serious, planet-threatening crisis. Landfills have become huge, overflowing garbage dumps. Exporting trash to developing countries has failed É the Philippines has returned boatloads of garbage to Canada. Oceans and other bodies of water have become polluted dumps. Fishes and plant life are dying from such dumping. Fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados and other extreme wind storms are ravaging every part of the world. Climatic disasters have been turned vast areas into wastelands.

Recently, more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries around the world issued a stark warning of “untold suffering” unless drastic and immediate changes are made. Such changes include “ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and slashing meat eating.” At least two of these initiatives would impact on Canadians. Imagine you are the prime minister and trying to satisfy some westerners/Big Oil and leaving oil in the ground to satisfy Indigenous people, British Columbians, environmentalists and future generations.

A recent Lancet study of health and climate change found that “A child born today will face multiple and life-long dangers to their health from climate change as growing up in a warmer world risks food shortages, infectious diseases, floods and extreme heatÉ Children are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of climate change.”

Additional Guardian graphs were even more alarming, especially “the profoundly troubling signs – the drivers of the climate emergency.” They included the rapid increase in world population, i.e. from 4.2 billion to 7.8 billion (+53.8 per cent) between 1980 and 2018; the 800 per cent growth in the number of airplane passengers from 1984-2017 and the 50 per cent increase in meat consumption between 1980-2017. Other disturbing graphs depicted the adverse effects of increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, global temperatures, sea levels and extreme weather conditions.

To many Albertans, such threatening information tends to be ignored, especially by those who are self-serving, parochial rebel rousers such as the premier and his ilk. Given their party’s recent policies and initiatives, the UCP is neither progressive nor conservative. Nearly 50 years of PC governments, in collaboration with profit-maximizing industry, have exploited Alberta’s oil deposits at an exponentially accelerating rate. The Socred policy of allowing two wells per quarter section was scrapped by the PCs during the 1970s, empowering oil companies to drill as many wells on land or under bodies of water as they could justify to the Energy Conservation Board É an “autonomous regulatory” body, dominated by the oil industry.

Big Oil and their political beneficiaries deprived Albertans of vast returns from the exploitation the natural resources of this province. Compare Alberta’s “oil savings” of $17 billion with Alaska’s $40.9 billion or Norway’s $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000). Another way of considering Big Oil’s ripoff of Albertans is by focusing on their financial statements. In November 2018, the Parkland Institute released a report showing that the Big Five largest oil companies in Alberta, controlling 79.3 per cent of Canada’s productive capacity of bitumen, had revenues of $140.3 billion or nearly three times the revenues of the Province of Alberta. In fact, the corporations posted gross profits of $46.6 billion, slightly less than the province’s revenues of $47.3 billion.

Seems to me that instead of threatening separation from Canada, Kenney and company should focus on getting a greater share of Big Oil’s profits and managing them like Norway or Alaska. Further, they should be pursuing former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed’s mantra of diversifying the economy away from resources exploitation, pollution and climate change. Even oil companies envision the future with declining needs for fossil fuel and are diversifying into renewable energy sources.

Al Barnhill is a Lethbridge-based writer and a former professor of management at the University of Lethbridge.

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Dennis Bremner

Strange, you never mentioned the Graph showing Canada’s total contribution of GHGs is 1.6% and Alberta’s contribution is about 1/3rd of that 1.6%. Much like other huggers on the planet, we seem to focus on Canada’s contribution not because its outrageous but because the Oilsands are an internal source of energy. So it pays well to bash the OilSands and bash Canada’s 1.6%
Now I quite realize “per capita” will be used and is used as soon as you argue the 1.6% but no one bothers to explain, because it does not fit the agenda, that, Alberta’s contribution is production of an exported product, that the planet relies on.
So people like you go on the supply side attack instead of the demand. Why aren’t the X/Ys of the world going after the consumers? I can tell you why because suddenly “per capita” no longer works for the huggers who want the Oilsands shut down. Those same huggers say nothing about any of the other fossil fuel producers, when was the last time you heard anyone on the world stage hound Saudii Arabia like they are the Oilsands? The answer, you haven’t!
So there is a purposeful focus on Canada to prevent us from impinging on the demand for Oil that is now there and will be for years to come. How convenient for the rest of the producers?
When was the last time you heard ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING from the other 98.4% polluters?
Strange how people like yourself can keep Canadians focused on the 1.6% so you never have to address the 98.4% as even being important?
X/Y gens are great at generalities….alt energy like Solar or wind. Yet professors in your “esteemed” position never bother to discuss the realities of Solar and Wind and what it would take in “Real Estate” to reduce Alberta of its dependency on Oil/NG. Nor how they will heat their homes, or how long a battery in an Electric Car actually lasts in -20 degree weather? Nor do you mention the cost to Mongolia of Rare Earth Mining and the pollution and cancers its causing there? Nor do you mention the recently released Congo video showing Child Labour out of Control in Cobalt Mines there because the demand for Batteries is just too lucrative!
So, we get people like yourself who dismiss the 98.4%, Saudii, Venezuela, Child Labour, the destruction of Batou Mongolia, Cancer killing off entire villages and its Canada, Alberta, and/or Jason Kenney is the problem here?
It must have taken tremendous effort to avoid the real issues and somehow settle on Alberta, so I give you marks in somehow being able to focus on a speck, on the polluting horizon, with deadly accuracy.
Perhaps the next topic could be a focus on what will happen when all of the batteries have to be changed in all these cars that the X/Ys want in service and the damage and cost to our electrical grid will be, a grid that cannot handle the demand now, or in the future?

So in the end, you pull the Heritage Fund Argument because you know its a huge sensitivity to Albertans and suggest Kenney concentrate on that type of thing. Would you not have to have AN INCOME from larger Oil Production to achieve that?
In your next article could you please explain how Resource based economies that supply the very survival, to the world, should just stop producing Concrete, Oil, NG, Tin, Aluminum, Lead, Zinc, Magnesium etc etc etc. I mean its pretty easy resource based economies could just quit? When you think about it, why not just stop producing anything that pollutes, GHGs would go to Zero and everyone would be happy, right?

You say: A recent Lancet study of health and climate change found that “A child born today will face multiple and life-long dangers to their health from climate change as growing up in a warmer world risks food shortages, infectious diseases, floods and extreme heat. Children are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of climate change.”

I say: yet in all of that warning you do not mention the child born today in Batou, or the Congo, or any other part of the world where Alt Energy Rare Earths or Battery components are produced , strange? Are Alt Energy children expendable but Ducks in Alberta Tailing ponds, not? We have established that the death of a child mining rare earth metals in Batou, Mongolia=Zero, and, the Death of a Duck in an Alberta Tailings pond =$50,000
So Professor Barnhill, should we start there and have a discussion? Once we get past the two faced scientific society we are, where we pretend “we care” and “we ignore” then I think we can actually have a great discussion but I don’t see that in my lifetime so you will have to chat with someone else!!
Reminds me of the “We support our troops ribbons on all the cars in Canada, and the homeless veterans freezing and starving on the street of Canadian Cities.” We care” but “we ignore”! Well, except for that Duck!

I am not a denier, nor do I believe that we cannot do better. But I am an equal opportunist and believe one should understand the consequences of both sides of this equation. So far the paid X/Y scientists of the world and the X/Y/Z huggers of the planet give distinct impression that their is no second side to this story, strange how that works, eh?

I think most Canadians should be ashamed of their two faced approach to all these issues and the rest of the Canadians should be ashamed in allowing themselves to be bullied into a belief that goes unquestioned! Do you know why the Climate Argument is NOT over even though the X/Y/Z think it is? Because no one believes a word they say, and why is that? They are telling one side of a story and dismissing the other half, when mentioned, as “just another denier”!! I have no idea how a Childs death in Batou is denial, no idea, do you? But a Ducks death! Well were talkin an entirely different ball game, aren’t we!
you said: Other disturbing graphs depicted the adverse effects of increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, global temperatures, sea levels and extreme weather conditions. To many Albertans, such threatening information tends to be ignored, especially by those who are self-serving, parochial rebel rousers such as the premier and his ilk.

I say: Those graphs you speak of, were they all created from Alberta’s data of 1/3 of 1.6% or were those graphs created by the “world’s” 100% contribution?
No wonder Albertans ignore this information, its the way you treehuggers present it…..”just like you have”…do you have any graphs that show Alberta’s roll ? Or do they make pie charts big enough to see that “sliver”?

So how about contributing a real article Professor because this one was just another NDP Sponsored treehugger Alberta bashing whitewash? Thats the challenge, are you up to it?

Ok Boomer!


what are you on about, db? do you not think you might be stuck like a skipping record. rather than speak to the point expressed very well and clear by the writer, you go on about whatever it is you go on about, ad nauseum, in this forum.
the point is we got ripped off by big oil in this province, and if oil is going to ever do anything to uplift the finances of alberta at this stage, we will still need to change our approach to better mirror the hugely successful model of norway (they have held over 50% ownership of all companies extracting oil from their land).
barnhill also makes the valid point that we need to diversify… is diversify too much for albertans to comprehend? let us try the mr rogers approach: d-i-v-e-r-s-i-f-y…it’s a big word…can you say it?
an emerging potential – quite viable – for southern alberta, sk, man., and the so. interior of bc, is hemp/ cannabis: growing, developing, manufacturing, for recreational use, medical and cosmetic use, clothing, oils, construction materials, food…. and, most, if not all, of that is sustainable. massive jobs, and a massive injection to our economy.

Dennis Bremner

Future money should be tagged to resolve the abandoned well issue, and diversification to wind and solar has already found to be a mugs game in Germany and Ontario. To exploit a resource you must get it on a sound footing. Once established you milk it for all its worth. You do not go out looking for larger shares of a company on the verge of collapse. You get them running and then hit them.
Lastly, if we want to diversify and get on the “future of energy” we should be sponsoring a full blown Small Reactor Program now before places like Quebec who has a program takes that away from the place (Alberta) that should have it.

I do not minimize the impacts of climate change I just get my ire up when people insinuate directly or indirectly that we are the authors of it, or are its major contributor and ALBERTA must correct its wrongful ways. We are not doing anything other then supplying a demand. If people wish to get off oil, stop using it, don’t assume because they decide too, everyone else will as well.
If people were to actually study its uses, they would soon realize the rants of doing away with it are just that, rants. Because there is no one in Lethbridge that will “tomorrow” cease all usage of fossil fuels to prove that point, because when it came to interview them, they would be dead from the cold. So lectures is not what anyone needs right now. We need to get the Oilsands up and running as fast as we can, (even if it means subsidies) so that when the pipeline is ready, we pump as much as we can, as fast as we can, then you change the sharing agreement with big oil, so we can bank that money for the projects WE NEED to complete (abandoned wells) and get started (diversify).


What is this “Mugs game” in Germany you speak of?
Is it the “Mugs game” of renewables having over 36% share of energy used in the Country?
Or is it the “Mugs game” of hundreds of thousands of jobs the renewables industry provides?

Dennis Bremner

The mugs game is Germany has to spend over 1 Trillion Euro to upgrade their grid because they spent too much time trying to be green. This is occuring at the sametime that 25% of their Windmills are obsolete or non functional and must be replaced. Now believe it or not, they are setting up a “how to dispose of a redundant windmill program”.
You should read some of the articles out of Germany its quite interesting how a race to green has literally killed them. In their haste they shut down all their Nuclear Facilities, which were and are greener then the replacement. Now that they have shut them down startup is so costly that they cannot afford to do that either.
One of the interesting things determined from the Eco Review in Germany is that the life of a windmill which the producers insisted was 20-25 years was actually 12 years. The second point of note was the 12 year old Windmill produces 25% of what the Huggers suggested it would produce in this part of its age.

Thats the MUGS GAME!

You know what else is a mugs game? You said that Germany’s alt energy accts for 36% of the energy produced. The problem with that is it is a half truth because in actual fact ALT energy is only 13% of energy USED. Treehuggers quote the 36% people that look at dollars spent and energy produced from ALT apply it to Energy USED and realized that after spending the 100’s of billions of dollars its actually 13% of what Germany consumes.
Then, using the same formula they realized the Nuclear disaster of shutting down too early has guaranteed more than 1 trillion Euro MORE to reach 2030 targets. Not because of anything else but the failure of grid and maintenance on non producing devices (Nuclear). So yes, Germany is the poster child of what NOT TO DO!

Let me give you a couple of quotes from organizations that now realize Germany is on the cusp of total failure:
“Germany as a pioneering country is on the brink of failure,” Patrick Graichen, the head of Agora Energiewende, said in a January assessment.

“Germany, as far as energy policy is concerned, is the biggest fraud globally,” said an EU official. “The public image of German energy policy is very green, but if you check the data, it’s a different story.”

I suggest you do some more reading McKnight. For instance, I am sure you are aware of “Dieselgate”. Now are you aware that not only was the North America using the numbers produced from doctored software programs. So was the Europe/German Government. When they recalc’d the impact of actual numbers it ELIMINATED all CO2 gains for 2015 onward because Germany is the center of “diesel vehicle production and usage”.
The last part of the Mugs Game? German Households are now bearing the brunt of Going Green where the Huggers said it would not be costly to switch…problem is Electrical prices in Germany have doubled since 2017 with no end in sight and are now slowing their economy…..and strangely enough…its exactly what is happening to Ontario.
Early adopters with no brain…..world of pain follows.

George McCrea

Barnhill mentions 11,000 scientists from 153 countries around the world issued a stark warning of untold suffering. I have been unable to determine a list of such scientists, their specialties or their associated universities anywhere ? Sounds like alarmist and fake news . If anyone has such a list I would be interested in seeing it.