Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013

Today is Earth Day so I thought I'd take a moment to learn a little more about an environmental issue that is close to home: the Tar Sands and the trans Canada/US Pipeline.

Photo: 100,00 litres or almost 500 barrels of oil spilled near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border as the result of a broken underground flow line. This was one of the biggest oil spills in Manitoba, so where was the media coverage?
Underground Oil Spill on the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border courtesy of the Sierra Club

I've kept my mouth shut about the  Pipeline, despite the fact that it's going to be going through my region, because I have somewhat mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, there are already oil pipelines out there that need to be replaced. Blocking new pipeline construction is somewhat problematic because it means that the older lines don't get updated and run the risk of breaking, etc. Moreover, while pipelines are a huge issue, they are, unfortunately, one of the safer ways to transport oil. The other options, trucking over land, or by boat over water, aren't exactly any better of an option. In fact, they may actually be worse options.

That said, is updating, replacing, or building new pipelines really the solution? Should we not be moving away from our oil dependence?

The Canadian Government is earnestly advocating for these pipelines as a means to ensure our economic prosperity. Without them, the Harper government is essentially implying that our economic viability as a nation is threatened.This is a questionable claim and one that, even if true, is problematic because it means that we're doing nothing as a nation to move beyond exporting products extracted from the land (wood, oil, water) instead of moving forward to develop a more sustainable economy.  However, in typical Harper government fashion, transparency and many means of official dissent in regards to this issue is quickly quashed or veiled under a guise of openness (you can voice your opinion, but only after filling out this complicated form, before this date, oh, didn't I mention that the deadline was in 10 days? Oops, too bad)!

Given all the arguments about it being the lesser of 2 evils or about the economic necessity of said act, am I against the pipeline?

Yes. But ironically not just because of the pipeline itself and all the ecological issues it presents us with.

I'm against the pipeline, first and foremost, because it advocates and ensures our continued dependence on an oil based system that is unsustainable. It's time to find better energy options. I'm also, and this is almost as, if not more of an issue for me, against the importing, maintenance, and general practice of dredging up oil from the tar sands.

Extracting oil from the Tar sands, which is where the oil itself would be shipped from, is one of the worst ecological practices out there. For more information, visit Greenpeace to find out a bit more about why. `

The unfortunate thing is, if we all take an honest look at our immediate surroundings, from the veggies and goods in our cupboards, to books on our bookshelves, incense from abroad to plates made in China, we are all guilty of feeding into a system that relies on oil and feeding the supply and demand market that endorses maintaining said system.

I know that I'm guilty of this and even some of my eco choices are in and of themselves just as problematic or more problematic when it comes to supporting this system because they rely on being imported vast distances. So can I honestly stand up against the Tar Sands or the Pipeline if I'm still part of the system? And better yet, how do we actually step outside of the system?

Right now I'm in the process of challenging myself to buy less, more local, and from sources that are more sustainable, in hopes that not only will this help reduce my overall carbon footprint but also move me a little off the beaten, toxic, ecological path that our society is currently on. I am far from being anywhere near where my ideal aspirations are, but I'm plugging away at it so that I can feel like demanding that our society move away from Oil dependency is really a viable option!


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