May 4, 2010

It’s not BP’s fault.

The Next Frontier in Oil Development.

Corporations Spill, Constituents Still Drive

I am not a Hydrocarbon expert. But I can say with absolute confidence that the spilling of oil in our oceans is as unforgivable as toxic waste dumping, nuclear testing and the everyday effluent of our noxious combustion gasses into our atmosphere.

On reflection on the issue of spilled oil I want to blame the big oil companies, but I find myself lingering on the machinations of our consumer behavior—my own included. Driving cars, flying in planes, eating imported food, building inefficient buildings, failing to turn the lights off. All of our behavior is connected to the demand for hydrocarbons. 6.5 billion human consumers are driving demand for this scarce resource, and our outcry and outrage over our most recent industrial disaster needs a path to action.

In Canada the federal government continues to sell off shore oil drilling rights in our most sensitive ocean ecosystems, the most recent example, the Beaufort Shelf is a sensitive Arctic habitat. In my simple view I believe we should be looking at ways to send pricing signals to the markets for Hydrocarbons which will change consumer behaviour and increase the ability of oil extraction industries to invest in technologies that will reduce the likelihood of continued ecological disasters.

Bottom line, the future value of the oil in the ground will be greater than the price today. The future technology should be superior to today. The value to society of the future energy should deliver more benefits in terms of competitiveness, food production and domestic economic value. At this critical time we need to see Government send clear directives to industry that the economic cost of off shore oil extraction is too great. The industry has continued to fail and deserves to be curtailed for the long term economic and ecologic benefits.

Follow Bhutan, and put a current economic price on the value of an industrial-effluent-free ecosystem and on the future value of the unharvested oil. Gross National Happiness as an economic index offers a future friendly and viable alternative to our current measure of success, GDP.

With government leadership it is possible to send the right pricing indicators to the market to fuel innovation in energy efficiency and curtail destructive human behaviour. So too our choices and the choices of the politicians that represent us need to reflect a fervor for a prosperous economic future of our society, not only the near term buoyancy of our drowning economy.


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Chris Chopik  |  Contribution: 600