Monday, June 29, 2009

Ignatieff And Waterfowl


All you have to do is accept one simple premise, for those that find it hard to reconcile their environmental wants with Ignatieff's tar sand rhetoric. If you accept this premise, which is really a simple, mature fact, then hesitations are somewhat squared. THE OIL IN THE ALBERTA TAR SANDS WON'T REMAIN IN THE GROUND, THE RESOURCE WILL BE DEVELOPED. Anyone with a tertiary understanding of the global economy, commodities, knows that there will be some demand for this limited resource. You can debate the price points, how those will affect demand, force changing habits. But, you can't honestly believe that environmental want will lead to dormant resources. There are too many interests involved that will guarantee the tar sands are developed further.

I take the above as simple fact, despite my very real concerns about the environmental horror show at present. The two views aren't exclusive, nor contradictory. This leads me back to Ignatieff, and why I'm more prepared to listen, rather than scoff. Ignatieff and the goose:
So it's slightly bad faith to beat the goose that lays the golden egg over the head with a stick. The goose is a little messy. The goose needs to be cleaned up. The goose needs to make better use of the yard, but let's make this a sustainable industry that all Canadians can be proud of.”

Essentially, trying to work to make the environmental impact as minimal as possible. Ignatieff has previously referred to our current policy as the "gold rush", and within that a recognition that we might need to take it slow until technologies come on line. The only way Ignatieff can implement environmental standards, if he first presents himself as a good faith messenger. You don't hear Ignatieff absolving the tar sands, what you hear is a roll up our sleeves, recognize the real problems, make it work. Again, if you accept the resource as reality, then that's your only solution.

We already see how dynamics will force change. We already see some potential, but more required. The price of doing business is poised to rise considerably, as we put value on pollution. Environmental concern is now part of the mix, it will drive up the cost of dirty production, which will force cleaner alternatives. That is a positive development for alternative sources of energy, we will watch the dependence wane over the coming decades. Environmentalism will marginalize the tar sands, but it won't leave the tar in the ground- human nature suggests otherwise. The counter balance will be, a cleaner product but never pure. That fact will make said product expensive, which in turn relegates to a lesser portion of the mix, which then results in a clear net positive for the worldwide environment overall.

About all I see, Ignatieff recognizing reality while simultaneously pushing to improve. I'm not sure what more we could ask for under the circumstance. Unless of course you actually think the world's most powerful multinationals are going to disappear tomorrow and oil will cease to exist in any capacity as a commodity. Not anytime soon that I can see, but one can dream I suppose... Until then, Ignatieff just sounds like an adult, trying to forge some good faith, which allows Albertans to buy into what needs to be done.

18 comments:

The Jurist said...

"People can try to put lipstick on a pig all they want, but the tar sands are what they are, the National Geographic piece simply tells a story. Apologists would argue it's a sensational story, but nobody needs to photoshop the sludge, the moonscape speaks for itself and the health of the ecosystem isn't based on fiction. It's important to consider consequence, rather than a simple economic argument. If that constitutes a "baby seal moment", it should surprise no one, because it's part of a real reality that is conveniently ignored by proponents."

Oops, wrong post.

Steve V said...

LOL, was waiting for that one and actually thought of it before I posted. I don't see any problem in calling out Ignatieff for slagging on of my favorite mags, what they wrote was the truth. That fact has nothing to do with the strategy for the tar sands moving forward, nor does it make me think Ignatieff isn't genuine in wanting to clean it up.

The only real question jurist, do you accept the premise?

The Mound of Sound said...

Steve, you do yoeman's service to trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. The lamentable aspect is that you attempt to deride everyone else in the process.

Steve V said...

Jurist

Tsk, tsk, you missed a better one. You were probably too busy trying to put lipstick on that NDP pig. Can't wait for the fundraising spin, should be a real one for the chiropractor ;)

Steve V said...

" The lamentable aspect is that you attempt to deride everyone else in the process."

As I recall Mound, it was people like you that started hurling crap, once people didn't see it all your way. The revisionism is a HOOT. Any thoughts on the premise, because you really need to address that with your "painted myself in a corner" perspective.

The Jurist said...

Actually I think this might top both in going to oil sands development directly:

You can't even mention curbing oil sands development without the howls of economic ruin, accompanied by the requisite "anti-Alberta" crap. I'm glad that Dr. Suzuki isn't playing nice this time, we don't need timid rhetoric.

But just for argument's sake, I'll indeed disagree with the premise. Yes, some further development is bound to happen as part of a range of options to deal with our energhy needs. But there's plenty of opportunity to make public policy choices now which will determine how quickly renewable energy sources can become affordable and consequently how much effort will be put in to wring every last drop out of the tar sands - and saying "there's nothing we can do" is exactly the excuse the tar sands operators need to keep going with no regard for the costs of that choice.

Steve V said...

"But just for argument's sake, I'll indeed disagree with the premise."

Then, you actually think the people of Alberta will voluntarily cede their economy. You need to get out more my friend, because that's dreamin in technicolor.

As for Suzuki, funny you mention him given your stripes. Besides that, if you follow one of the links, you'll see price on carbon is alive and well, just bastardized now :)

Steve V said...

BTW, if you read the klondike analogy, you'll see that curbing is entirely part of the equation.

The Jurist said...

Wow, you even went right to the "attack on Alberta" line. There's a certain performance artistry in that - which I can't help but to salute.

Of course, some of us might inconveniently point out that the marginally most difficult reserves to access may not be worth Alberta's while to extract if the costs of getting at them are properly taken into account, particularly if better alternatives are available a decade or two down the road. (Hint: there's no lack of wind or sun on the prairies in particular.) But if you want to go with the line that Alberta is nothing but a province of oil jockeys whose economy will disappear when the oil sands cease to be viable, far be it from me to stop you from sending the message.

Steve V said...

Jurist

I think I spoke to cost prohibitive, but that doesn't mean no development.

"But if you want to go with the line that Alberta is nothing but a province of oil jockeys whose economy will disappear when the oil sands cease to be viable"

That's like saying to a union member in Ontario, "hey we don't need the auto industry, we'll do other things". Come on man. Fact of the matter, gee, what happened to Alberta's economy when oil prices TANKED. Hello, hello in there. Things are more diversified than previous busts, but it's still the heart.

Anyways, think what you want, quite comfortable that the sky is in fact blue.

The Mound of Sound said...

Steve, mellow out. Yes I find much deficient in this leader but I at least try not to indulge in the personal, bitter attacks that have become your trademark. My career was in advocacy, Steve. It's what I did for a living, how I put my kids through school. Trust me, you're not remotely as prescient, or tough, as you see yourself.

Stephen said...

THE OIL IN THE ALBERTA TAR SANDS WON'T REMAIN IN THE GROUND, THE RESOURCE WILL BE DEVELOPED

Sorry, I'm a bit confused.

The Michael Ignatieff who has discounted in print the idea that demand for access to and control of Middle Eastern energy resources might have driven international public policy on the illegal invasion of Iraq can't possibly be arguing that such demands could drive domestic policy, could he?

And yet, and yet...

Oh, by the way, if the straw men you introduce by way of defending Ignatieff's "recognizing reality" were people, your original post would be China.

A BCer in Toronto said...

In the last election, star NDP candidate Michael Byers made waves at a UBC all candidates meeting when he said the oil sands should be shut down.

He later claimed he was misquoted/taken out of context, and Jack Layton strongly reaffirmed the NDP's position was a moratorium on new development, but definitely NOT an end to current oil sands activity.

So it seems all three major parties agree that a) we need the oil from the oil sands, b) the oil sands are a major part of the Alberta (and the national) economy, and shutting them down would be both economically and politically infeasible. Ignatieff is merely adding, and I'm not sure who'd disagree with this, let's try to do this in as clean a way as we can, to the degree that's possible.

Trying to mount moralistic stands on this issue given the agreement on those basic facts seems unfounded and nonsensical.

Anonymous said...

If you had it the NDP way - there'd be nothing left. Supposedly, the NDP are for the working people - really?

Most Canadians work for non-union "corporations" that the NDP want to punish, then the Albertans, and anyone who isn't a union worker.

I don't mind unions as far as workers rights, etc. but they've gone too far.

A friend of mine, who is a business man who deals internationally said that if the NDP ever, ever got in as government in Canada - they would avoid investment like the plague. Too much union control is a dangerous thing (nearly crippled Britain years back).

Union workers are not economists, scientists or have any understanding of business - all they know is I pay my union dues and if a company profits I want it.

I was always happy when companies I worked for profited - it meant the company could continue, didn't have to lay off, etc.

They have such a simplton's view of the whole picture.

Steve V said...

"bitter attacks that have become your trademark."

That's called projecting methinks. Too funny.

Steve V said...

"So it seems all three major parties agree that a) we need the oil from the oil sands, b) the oil sands are a major part of the Alberta (and the national) economy, and shutting them down would be both economically and politically infeasible. Ignatieff is merely adding, and I'm not sure who'd disagree with this, let's try to do this in as clean a way as we can, to the degree that's possible."

Bingo.

Joseph said...

I have tons of respect for you, Mound. But I think it's going a little far to consider FarandWide vindictive and accuse him of engaging in bitter attacks.

He may be sharp and direct at times, but I think you display that ability as well. And personally I think that's a good quality to possess when engaging in the rough edged world of political blogging.

LMA said...

I guess I'll declare myself among the "dreamers" on this issue and disagree with your premise. However, Ignatieff is doing a bit of dreaming himself if he thinks it is possible to "clean up" tar sands development. How does one replace boreal forest and muskeg thousands of years old, or replace wildlife habitat? There must be a better way.