In light of the amazing protest that went down in Washington over the weekend, where 12,000 people came from all over the country to link hands together in a giant circle of love and solidarity around the Whitehouse, urging President Obama to get serious about climate change by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, I thought I would share some thoughts on the issue in Alberta, where I live.
Here in Alberta, at the very heart of the debate, the very place where that oil will be pulled from the sand if that pipeline gets built – news of these protests is stirring media and politicians into action. Here is what I saw and heard yesterday:
Walking to the bus stop in the morning, listening to CBC radio on my iPod.
A business panel is questioned on the impact to Alberta if Keystone XL is blocked.
The panel agrees – if it is blocked Alberta will push for the Northern Gateway pipeline, the one to the Pacific, the one that will put the oil on boats to Asia.
Conceding that there is also immense opposition to that pipeline, one of the panel guests states that only people who live along that pipeline should have a say.
A national pipeline that ships to international markets, creating global harm through climate change, and only a small set of people should have a say?
I don’t get it.
Walking to the library at lunchtime, listening to CBC radio on my iPod.
They have a guest who has just been appointed as Alberta’s ambassador to Washington.
He is going there with the Premier on Monday to advocate for Alberta’s oil sands and Keystone XL.
He keeps calling it safe, secure and sustainable. He doesn’t mention climate change.
I don’t get it.
Sitting in a café at lunchtime, reading the paper. The headline reads:
The article describes how environmental worries are set to clash with growing global demand. The International Energy Association predicts that using carbon intensive oil will lead to a 3.5 C rise in temperatures, which is above the maximum of 2 C that will stave off the worst effects of climate change.
Ironically, the next headline right below reads:
I guess it we have always had snow in Edmonton by this time of year, for over a hundred years, since they started keeping records, since Edmonton even existed. Snow. By now.
I guess the warmer temperatures are starting to catch up.
I don’t get it.
Out walking at lunchtime, I notice a cool little building called the Reuse Centre.
I walk inside. There are bins everywhere, filled with stuff.
Paper, ribbons, binders, picture frames.
Ice cream pails, maps, greeting cards, buttons.
Books, DVDs, pine cones. Scissors, seashells, carpet.
I walk up to the guy at the desk. “How does this work?” I ask.
“You pay $5 and then take as much as you want”, he answers.
“Is this run by the City?”
“Yes, it is part of the Waste Management Branch”.
I get it.
So the debate rages on, and we are all left wondering what will happen. Will America hook up to Alberta’s oil, and put it into the sky? Will Asia?
How will we get out of this mess?
Well, never underestimate the power of people. People are making changes, people are going to places like the Reuse Centre, people are thinking about eating locally, people are Occupying their cities and questioning the wisdom of letting corporations influence so much government policy. People are talking. Issues are being brought to light. Some people are starting to scratch their heads. Why are we doing what we are doing?
As long as that continues, we will get out. We are on our way. We are starting to wake up. We need to keep talking about it so that others wake up too.
Okay. I got it.
- The Apocalyptic Landscapes of Alberta’s Oil Sands (wired.com)
- U.S. officials mull new route for Keystone XL pipeline (ctv.ca)
- Thousands protest at the White House over Keystone XL pipeline (guardian.co.uk)