Published: December 1, 2011
The world needs oil now and we’ll need it for the foreseeable future
PATRICK MOORE, GUEST COLUMNIST
DECEMBER 01, 2011
As environmental activists fly to Durban, South Africa to attack Canada’s climate change position at the UN climate change talks, I can’t stand idly by while false allegations continue to be made about one of Canada’s most innovative and important industries: The oil sands.
Canadian oil is no “dirtier” than any other oil.
When the full life-cycle is calculated, oil from the Canadian oil sands emits between 18 percent higher and 8 percent lower greenhouse gases compared to other sources of crude oil.
I strongly favour reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by adopting technologies that use less of them.
But I find a degree of hypocrisy among activists who paint oil companies as environmental criminals while many of these same critics go about driving, flying, and otherwise enjoying the benefits of living in a society that depends on oil for over one-third of its energy.
Greenpeace takes an aerial picture of a Canadian oil sands mining operation and suggests this is the way it will look — forever. It fails to tell the public the mine is a temporary disturbance and — by law — oil sands companies are required to return the site to a thriving ecosystem, with native trees and shrubs and lakes.
I’ve travelled to some of these restored sites and they’re beautiful.
In some areas the oil lies well below the surface and here the oil sands industry is using in situ (in place) drilling.
By injecting steam to release the oil from the sand, it can be extracted with minimal disturbance to the surface environment.
Canadian oil producers must meet some of the toughest environmental and social standards on the planet.
Compared to the six largest oil exporters (Nigeria, Kuwait, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Saudi Arabia), Canada is far ahead on leading social and environmental indicators:
The World Health Organization says Canada has some of the cleanest air in the world.
Canada far outranks the top six oil exporters in terms of the country’s water quality and water impacts on ecosystems, according to Yale and Columbia universities.
According to the International Labour Organization, Canada has one of the highest female labour participation rates in the world.
In its 2010 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House ranks Canada among the most free and democratic countries.
Canada is one of the least corrupt countries on Earth based on Transparency International’s 2010 assessment.
It’s no wonder Canada had the highest reputation of any country in the Reputation Institute’s 2011 report measuring the perception of countries worldwide.
Anti-oil sands activist groups like Greenpeace, which I helped found, live in a dream world where they hope to replace fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro energy — by far the majority of the world’s energy supply — with unreliable, intermittent and expensive wind and solar power.
The world needs oil now and we’ll need it for the foreseeable future — so it matters greatly where that oil comes from.
If any oil is to be labeled “dirty”, shouldn’t it be the oil coming from dictatorial regimes in Russia and the Middle East, rather than friendly and democratic Canada?
— Dr. Moore, Chair of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., was a co-founder of Greenpeace. His new book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist is available at Amazon.ca