Speculatin’ On Oil

February by

Does it strike anyone that there is an undertone of panic to the rush to get the Northern Gateway project up and running?

A lot of money has gone into pulling transportable oil out of Alberta’s tar sands….at a time when great strides are being made on the technological side globally to bring alternative energy closer to being competitive even with oil produced far less expensively.

This shows up perhaps most obviously in the broad commitment to production of electrical vehicles which clearly takes the switch from petroleum out of the realm of pie in the sky. It is also there via nano-technology, improved power management and battery technology that is making all forms of alternative energy more economically viable.

Plans are in the works for EV charging networks in North America, Europe and parts of Asia. Technology is in the works for wireless charging of Evs.

If the big auto companies can see it, so, without question, can petroleum producers.

Dialing into CBC at 3 a.m. gets you a lot of programming from elsewhere in world where energy efficient buildings, human-powered personal transport, and rapid transit, not to mention lower consumption due to economic woes are all trending upward. The latter is no small thing. Consumer-capitalism is such a bust, reliant as it is on sustaining neediness while purporting to gratify – brainwashing and dumbing us down. Living without much of what it has been feeding us could well lead to the hardly remarkable realization that we are psychologically, socially and certainly environmentally better off without  it.

Surely, once current calamities are sorted out there will be little taste for merely another version of what brought so many economies to their current sorry state.
I speculate that Alberta oil interests are applying every bit of leverage to their Conservative friends in good part out of fear that what they have already invested may be disastrously lost. Disastrous for them, a boon for the Canada’s environment. In terms of recovering their investment and profiting from it they are in a race against the recognition in much of the rest of the world that oil is already, in principle, on its way out as the king of energy. With their ultra-expensive version of it, they are almost certain to lose and may well smell that.

The recent reference of Shell Canada president Lorraine Mitchelmore to a ‘short window of opportunity’ to establish a Chinese market for Canadian natural gas strikes me a hiding a kind of willful naivity, with lessons in it for all forms of energy exports.

Why would we possibly want to export natural gas to a country said to have the world’s largest reserves of it? What possible guarantee is there that China, a country that behaves as a unitary corporation, but with the additional powers of nationhood, will not simply undermine those deals if it becomes in its economic interest to do so? The same goes for oil.

I don’t blame the US for being pissed off at Conservative courting of the Chinese. Like it or not, for all of its faults, the U.S. has been a pretty decent neighbor and steady trading partner, now it is having some troubles and we are heading for the hills.

What we might want our corporations to be thinking about is converting tar sands oil to electricity and using existing grids to share it with our long-time economic allies.

Why this huge leap of faith in the economic future of China? It reminds me of the praise heaped just a few decades ago on the Japanese economy…..which shortly thereafter was revealed as a chimera propped up by cronyism. It is still trying to pull out of the consequential quicksand.

China has massive social and economic challenges, exacerbated by the always attendant risks of moving too far, too fast.

We in Canada need to stop sucking on the resource nipple and begin to treat our energy resources as essentially a long-term domestic backup for development of apex training and employment.

If this runs against the interests of existing corporations, it is their own policy failures and blind orientation to the short-term that have put them at risk; theirs and that of governments saying thanks for their election funding and media propaganda support: something Harper Conservatives only reinforced by cutting public election funding.

There are far too many democracies fallen victim to the divide and conquer techniques of the corporate culture that colonizes them, lacking the cohesion and supremacy of government that would allow them to become nations in any real sense.

We need governments that actually honor in practice the managing of the nation’s resources long-term on behalf of the population as a whole, that see fostering the education and skill-development of those already within the nation as their duty. We need an educated populace, one capable of understanding that short-term gratification should never trump long-term well-being.

Image courtesy of  daveknz photobucket…….http://s672.photobucket.com/profile/davknz

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