Presentation on theme: "PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 9 C – What We Can Do at the Federal Level."— Presentation transcript:
PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 9 C – What We Can Do at the Federal Level
What do you think your federal government should do?
Before I start, I’d like to point out something important: Although I will tell you about what Canada should do, non-Canadians from around the world will find that many of my recommendations can apply to their country as well. Every country should take responsibility for its future.
A matter of social choices: Human nature being what it is, we won’t accomplish significant change by relying on individual choice. The important measures that are required will have to be established at the social level. This is where the federal government comes in. House of Commons in session Parliament Hill Ottawa, Canada
A thought to ponder: Most of the federal actions that I am proposing are essential – but many of them politically unacceptable. But the sad fact that they are unacceptable doesn’t doesn’t make them less important. Political suicide Statue of Ludovisi
What the Canadian Federal government should do – 1 In view of the fact that the human race has overshot the Earth’s carrying capacity, it is inevitable that there will be a drastic drop in population some time this century - probably to a level below carrying capacity. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, page 178”, Meadows, Meadows and Randers
Well, then, what can you do to soften the blow?
On the global scale, not much can be done Each country will have to do what it can to prepare itself. However, Canada is in a special position because it has: Oil in the tar sands, minerals, forests, fresh water, energy and a reasonable amount of farmland (remember only 4% of Canada’s surface is appropriate for farming).
Make Canada a “Safe Zone” By the end of this century, due to starvation, war and disease, the world population might be a tenth of what it is today. All we can hope for is to preserve civilization in a few select parts of the world: I would like to ensure Canada becomes one of those areas.
We will not be able to preserve the present scale of consumption. … So we ought to ask ourselves what we do want to preserve.
First and foremost, I would like to see us respect a precious Canadian principle – that of helping poor countries: That would entail assisting poor countries that have adopted a population reduction policy. Those countries would get financial support from Canada to carry out their birth control programs. Currently there are an estimated 500 million women worldwide who either want no more children or wish to postpone their next pregnancy, but do not have access to a full range of family planning services.* * Population Institute of Canada
These are the things I think are important to preserve: Art and music Literary masterpieces Knowledge of anthropology and history Acquired scientific knowledge in astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, medicine, etc. The Canadian rule of law The Canadian parliamentary system A health system that is sustainable with respect to the environment
Well, what’s the problem then?
My view of the problem – 1: Although Canada is endowed with natural riches, in order to achieve short term gain, we have engaged ourselves in a process of offering them to the whole world. Our involvement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has committed us to hawking our resources at firesale prices.
My view of the problem – 1: Even our renewable resources (forests, water, soil) are being drawn down. When you extract renewables faster than their replenishment rate, you’re making them non-renewable.
My view of the problem – 1: We have re-established ourselves as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the global marketplace. And now, to top it off: we’ve become pumpers of oil.
My view of the problem – 1: The best illustration of this is the frenetic pace at which the American government is pushing Canada to develop the Alberta tar sands…a desperate attempt to push back world peak oil as far into the future as possible – perhaps a year or two. The Americans want Canada to quadruple her production of oil from the oil sands, from 1.2 million barrels a day to 5 million barrels a day. Do they care about the environmental cost?
My view of the problem – 2: In the past two decades a large number of Canadian businesses have discovered that they can have goods made overseas much cheaper than in Canada…
Team Canada Before the end of his term, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien took with him a large delegation of Canadian business people, “Team Canada”, to China. The idea was to create alliances with Chinese manufacturers in order to annihilate Canadian jobs.
My view of the problem – 2: The average Canadian factory worker earns $16.50 an hour vs. 48¢ an hour for a Chinese so it’s easy for China to outcompete us. The exporting of Canadian jobs has effectively destroyed much of our manufacturing industries: textile, shoe, furniture and others.
I think as Canadians we must re-examine the assumptions upon which our international trade policies are based: x Growth is good for its own sake x Growth is essential for the economy x Anything that stifles growth is bad x Companies’ first duty is towards shareholders x Money is the only bottom line x Canada’s population can grow forever
You must have inferred by now that I’m not in favour of the global economy. Canada has the necessary attributes to be one of the few places on Earth to escape catastrophic societal collapse and depopulation. In my view, we can only achieve that goal by becoming self- sufficient. This requires reversal of our involvement in globalization.
I propose that the federal government should plan on making Canada a post-Oil Peak “SAFE ZONE”
What the Canadian government should do – 1 Canada is a country of 33 million people blessed with sufficient resources, I believe, to maintain its civilization sustainably. Our commitment to NAFTA* compels us to share our resources with 315 million consumers. -- This is not sustainable. I think self-sufficiency is a question of survival, not only for Canadians but for the human race. Backing out of NAFTA is an absolute necessity. Canadian oil going south * North American Free Trade Agreement
The problem is that our neighbour south of us would not just stand by while we turn off the oil valve. They’ve invaded countries for much less.
We are a sovereign nation…We have the right to save our resources for our children We have to adopt the notion that oil in the ground is money in the bank (earning interest in a manner of speaking, as it will only increase in value as we pass the oil peak). Likewise, a tree in the forest is a breath of fresh air for our grand- children. Likewise, minerals left in the ground will ensure that future generations of Canadians will be able to sustain our technological civilization.
What I’m saying is that we should turn the valves off!!! Selling oil at $40 a barrel or $140 is stealing from our children. Our descendants will recognise our export policies as acts of extreme greed and stupidity.
Trading oil at $140 a barrel comes to 15¢ a cup. Just try to buy anything for less than $1 a cup. Hundred and forty dollar oil is WAY too cheap.
Bringing our industries back home: Ending our participation in NAFTA and WTO is the first step in bringing our industries back home. The second step would be to re- establish the “Buy Canadian” campaign of the 1970s. Third would be to subsidize manufacturing in Canada. Then to impose tariffs on imported goods that are available from Canadian companies. The green portion is where the loud sucking sound from the south is coming from.
Canada’s most important source of population increase is through immigration. Canada doesn’t only derive its richness from its natural resources. It’s main richness lies in its multicultural heritage, resulting from welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. Unfortunately, we shall have no choice but to restrict immigration and I’ll explain why…
What the Canadian government should do – 2 Stabilize Canada’s population. Consider the following scenario:
Suppose we decided that we would cut back our energy consumption by one third, ok? How would you feel if you made all the sacrifices necessary to achieve a 33% reduction in your own consumption and find out thirty years later that in spite of your personal sacrifices, Canada as a whole has increased consumption by 33%? This man wants to reduce his impact on the environment
Have a look at Canada’s population curve: Canada’s population is increasing by 1% per year Our actual population is 33 million 33 million at 1% for 30 years amounts to 45 million (an increase of 12 million)
Canada’s official policy is to increase its population by 1% a year. Those additional 12 million are going to join us on the consumerism bandwagon That’s a 33% increase in consumption in 30 years That will exactly cancel the efforts we will have made during 30 years!
This means all our efforts would be in vain. We’d just be spinning our wheels.
Other concerns about a 33% increase in population: 33% more roads 33% more houses 33% more schools 33% more hospitals 33% more farmland, ski resorts, beaches, parks 33% more social services 33% more administrative offices 33% more TV stations, stores, cars, gas stations, garages, arenas, cinemas, stadiums, theatres, etc. etc. etc. It means we will need:
In a world of declining oil and gas, how will we afford the energy needed for all this construction?
And how will we feed another 12 million people with less farmland and less fertilizer and pesticides?
Furthermore, our cities can’t take any more population increase: Toronto’s air and water pollution difficulties are exacerbated by an ever expanding population driven by immigration. Smog alert in Toronto
And what about Vancouver, Canada’s third largest city? The bulging city of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland is pushing its way up the Fraser Valley, destroying its salmon fishery and covering up the province’s best farmland with houses. All driven by immigration. Fraser Valley: note the colour of the water due to siltation from upriver deforestation.
And I can tell you about Ottawa since it’s my home town. In 1980 Ottawa was a pleasant city. The population was 553,000. It had all the amenities of a large city and few of the inconveniences! However the city fathers, like city leaders everywhere were hooked on growth. Now the population is nearing a 900 thousand. It takes an hour to drive across the city and commuting to work is a nightmare. World’s longest skating rink
Cities and their citizens have to deal with the consequences of the federal policy on non-stop population growth.
Every country has the right to determine its own immigration policy. Why should Canada have fewer rights in this regard than other countries? So does Canada!
Every country has the duty to determine its own immigration policy. We have an obligation towards our children and grandchildren to ensure that we protect the web of life they will need to sustain them. The web of life begins with the soil needed to grow crops. An excessive human population will destroy the web of life.
There are many obstacles to a reduced immigration policy: First, we all have friends or family of varied ethnic backgrounds. This makes it extremely difficult for us on an emotional level to close the door on additional immigrants. This is my family, including my grand daughter Gabrielle and her Canadian father of Haitian origin
Many thousands of Canadians owe their livelihood to the immigration process: 6020 CIC employees brokers in many countries of the world immigration lawyers and their staff immigration courts language schools municipal welfare office workers health care workers. Chinese boat people intercepted by the Coast Guard Furthermore: Politicians feel they need the immigrant vote to get elected. So any party in power will likely want to be seen favourable to immigration. All of the above would object to reducing immigration
Furthermore: The construction boom we have been experiencing in the past 6 years has been fuelled by the 220,000 immigrants arriving here every year. If we were to halt immigration, thousands of construction workers would find themselves out of work. And they would not like it. (I will discuss ways of alleviating their plight later in the presentation.)
Furthermore: There is a strong belief in the business sector and amongst economists that growth is essential to the economy. The business community is intent on short term profit with no regard for the long term. Corporations regard immigrants as an inexhaustible and necessary source of new consumers and a source of cheap labour. The stockmarket could not exist without growth TSX GROWTH CHART
It’s little wonder then that if you bring up the subject of immigration: People who don’t have a good understanding of carrying capacity will deny there’s any environmental reason for limiting the number of people in Canada Those who have a poor reasoning capacity won’t listen to valid arguments and might respond by launching insults. New Canadians who have family in their country of origin might close their ears to any logical argument and invoke racism. The people whose job depends on immigration believe that what they are doing is good, so they will not be receptive to anybody who implies the contrary.
We often hear the argument that by accepting 250,000 immigrants per year from poor countries we are helping those countries. Lets work this out…
The world population is increasing by 75 million persons every year. Canada is accepting 0.25 million per year. At that rate, it will take 300 years for us to accept one year’s worth of population increase. REALLY NOW, how can that be of any help at all to those poor countries?
And this is being done at a huge expense to the Canadian carrying capacity. The money we spend on immigration would serve a better purpose if we gave it directly to those countries in the way of aid.
We must direct our compassion with our reason. We can be of no use at all to poor countries if we destroy ourselves through overpopulation, environmental degradation and resource depletion.
The only hope we have of effecting change is for us to spread the concept of carrying capacity and natural limits
What the Canadian government should do - 2 Once Canada’s population is stabilized, we should put in place a plan to reduce it down to the country’s carrying capacity. It’s important that we mobilize a team of scientists and lay people to carry out a study to determine how many people Canada can support indefinitely. See Anthony Cassils’ “Why Canada Needs a Population Policy” in the Further Reading part of this website
What the Canadian government should do – 3 Restore Canada’s railways Since rail transport is ten times more energy efficient than trucking, we will have no choice but rebuild the rail lines that were dismantled because people thought they were old fashioned. Only the trucking industry would have a big problem with this.
What the Canadian government should do – 4 In order to raise funds for all this: … and to place priorities where they ought to be, the federal government, with the cooperation of the provinces, should institute tolls on all divided highways. This brash recommendation would elicit cries of anger, but wouldn’t it be a great way to generate funds for peak oil preparation?
What the Canadian government should do – 5 To prepare Canadians for the cold winters: Change the national building code to mandate superinsulation of all new constructions, industrial, commercial and residential. A superinsulated house could be built for % more than a standard house. Would cost less than $100 a year to heat. Pipes would not freeze even if power were off over long stretches. The insulation and construction industries would benefit too.
What the Canadian government should do – 6 Start powering down by: Turning thermostats down in the winter and up in the summer Converting its car fleet to tiny cars Super-insulating its buildings Banning disposable equipment in all laboratories and hospitals Turning office lights off at night
What the Canadian government should do – 7 Rethink our education priorities: When energy becomes rare, we will have to increasingly rely on human muscle energy. It might be a good idea to step up our technical school programs, as there will be more blue collar jobs and farm jobs to be filled.
What the Canadian government should do – 7 Rethink our education priorities: Teach basic skills that have been lost to a great number of people. So everybody will now have learn these skills in school: Gardening Food preservation Food preparation Basic carpentry and house maintenance Bicycle repair Auto mechanics Welding
What the Canadian government should do – 8 A steady state economy would be based on a stable population and would not require growth. Fund research to determine how to create a new economic system – a steady state economy:
Think of the advantages of steady state economy and a stable population: We would never again have to build a new: School Hospital Airport Road Bridge Sewage system We could spend our money and efforts on improving existing facilities.
The problem is that no society has ever developed a steady state economy. Our fractional reserve banking system makes it impossible to have no growth. If you always wondered how new money is created, watch the movie “Money as Debt”: You’ll be flabbergasted!
What the Canadian government should do – 9 Encourage people to establish themselves on small farms: We must reverse the deadly urbanization trend. Percentage Urban vs. Rural Population by Province 80% of Canadians are urban dwellers (worldwide, half of humans live in cities)
What the Canadian government should do – 9 Without abundant oil, the demographics with respect to rural and urban population should be reversed: 20% urban and 80 % rural. Today’s small number of oil- dependent farmers won’t be able to support such a large urban population when they have to resort to organic farming, energy from draught animals and much much manual labour.
What the Canadian government should do – 10 When all hell breaks loose when the oil decline is in full swing… …Canadians will have to take measures to protect their borders against illegal immigration from the US and Mexico
What the Canadian government should do – 10 The Americans are toying with the idea of putting up a security fence along the world’s longest undefended border. Rather than raising objections and taking offence, we should insist on paying our share! Lets go Dutch treat on this security fence, George
What the Canadian government should do – 10 …and with thousands of kilometres of sea coast, we need to beef up our patrol and defence capabilities
What the Canadian government should do – 10 The US doesn’t recognise that Canada has sovereignty over its northern waters. This means that the Americans would not only interfere with our control of navigation, but might go as far as helping themselves to our oil. Canada must deploy forces in this area in order to establish a presence -- not much of deterrent, of course, but it would make it more embarrassing if our friends tried to steal our territory outright. Within a decade or two, global warming will dissipate the sea ice that now curtails navigation through the Canadian Northwest passage. Only a handful of boats have completed the Northwest passage to date.
What the Canadian government should do – 11 Withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan, thus putting an end to the shameful waste of taxpayers’ money. The money would be better spent preparing for post- Peak Oil.
What the Canadian government should do – 12 Dismantle the Canadian Space Agency Let’s put the money to work at mitigating the effects of the post-peak economic crash. Besides, there won’t be such a thing as space exploration when there is no more oil. So why waste what’s left on a futile project?
What the Canadian government should do – 13 The Canadian government should make judicious use of:
Bicycle Public transit Insulation The carrot! Small car Train travel Train travel
Powerboats Downhill ski Downhill ski Skidoos Air travel SUVs The stick! Patio heaters
What the Canadian government should do – 14 Put a complete stop to all oil exports. Why would we want to share the oil peak with others? -- are Canadians stoic do- gooders or are we going to stop nourishing the big players who are getting rich from giving away Canada’s precious petroleum?
What the Canadian government should do – 15 Put a complete ban on advertisement! (with perhaps the exception of small storefront signs)
Robert, have gone mad? Television and newspapers couldn’t survive without add money. Why in Jupiter’s name would you want to do that?
Think about it, people who work in advertising don’t produce any of the human needs. In other words: Lets keep in mind that the only purpose of advertising is to inform us about new products and where to buy them – in other words, to entice us to consume more. Food Clothing Shelter Tools teaching materials medical products research support leisure
To achieve a sustainable, steady state world, we can not continue promoting more consumption. We would still have television stations and newspapers, but fewer of them. Would that be such an intolerable situation?
What the Canadian government should do – 16 This would send a clear signal that borrowing for purchasing consumer goods is bad behaviour. Tax personal loans.
I’d go even further - credit cards and rewards cards should be banned Why? For the same reason that bank loans should be taxed – to curb spending on consumer goods. This might make me sound like I’m over the edge, but I urge you to stop to think about it -- our society is on a path of destructive consumerism. All factors that contribute to this consumerism madness must be eliminated.
What the Canadian government should do – 17 News agencies in Canada are concentrated in the hands of just a few rich individuals who influence the editorial content in favour of growth and consumption… …exactly what is good for their bank accounts and detrimental to the long-term survival of our country. The Feds should prohibit an individual from owning more than one newspaper, radio or TV station.
What the Canadian government should do – 18 Because people will not curtail their gasoline use voluntarily, the federal government should increase taxes on gasoline to bring the price at the pump to the range of $4 to $5 per litre. This would encourage people to use public transport. When more people use public transport, a virtuous circle is created, generating more money to improve the service. Such a measure would have to be phased in gradually over a period of five years to allow the economy to adjust.
How will these government actions be implemented? No politician in his right mind would ever risk his or her career by calling for an end to population and economic growth. If change is to be effected, it will have to be from bottom up. In other words, you and I will have to educate the general public and mobilize them to press the politicians into action. Non-confidence vote
But our first priority is: …we have to educate the general population about the web of life, carrying capacity, overshoot and the consequences of the oil peak.
And we must act quickly… …we don’t know how much time is left, and in the worst case scenario we might already have passed the oil peak.
It’s the people who must tell the government what to do.
What can be done at the global level?
At the global level I used to think that an emissions trading system (ETS) might be a viable incentive to reduce greenhouse gasses. I have recently come to think that an ETS would simply transfer emissions from rich countries to poor countries. Mother Nature doesn’t give a hoot where greenhouse gasses originate from.
At the global level Most experts agree that we’ve surpassed the planet’s carrying capacity – in other words, the world is in overshoot.
At the global level There are other countries besides Canada that may be living within their carrying capacity, such as New Zealand. Those countries might be able to survive the oil peak if they immediately: Limit their population growth Bring on line renewable energy sources Greatly reduce their energy consumption Become self-sufficient in food production and manufacture of essentials Limit their economic ties with the outside world
At the global level Liberalized trade practices have linked us all together. This unhealthy interdependence will play against us when economic crash occurs. It means that all countries that are part of the economic web will fall together like dominos.
At the global level Canada may still have a chance -- if we make the right choices NOW. But on a world level, a substantial cull must take place. That is the way Nature deals with a species that reproduces out of control.
I wish it could be otherwise.
What about other countries? What can they do?
Because we have to untie the ropes that are binding all of us together globally… …every country will have to create a lifeboat for its own people. Some countries, like Holland, have only the resources to build a very small lifeboat. Those that haven’t destroyed all their carrying capacity will be able to do much better.
Chapter 10 suggests where we ought to go from here. Click icon for Chapter Choice