Dividing reader’s opinion of no help to the environment

Writer takes issue with columnist Tom Fletcher for confusing the issue by trying to make it simple.

Dear Editor

I see we are having regular opinion pieces these days from Tom Fletcher of Black Press. Unfortunately, like many strongly-held opinions, they are based on reducing the discussion to one dimension only and conveniently ignoring the big picture. He takes serious issue with environmental organizations receiving big bucks from wealthy US foundations and using these funds to lobby against resource extraction in Canada.

Personally I’m not sure how much of an issue this really is. It’s a small world and if environmental organizations get funding from others of like mind around the world, then more power to them (BC Views, The Journal, Jan. 3, 2013). Why is that so different from oil companies receiving support and funding from foreign governments and organizations to exploit Canadian resources? His arguments and the tribalism they promote serve only to divide the world into two camps, long-haired, hippy, enviro types and sensible people like him who want jobs and revenues. This serves no useful purpose in figuring out what is best for Canadian citizens today, much less the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren.

He says fracking has been around for over 60 years and so it has. But, there’s a huge difference between the simple vertical fracking at smaller depths using volumes of water in the thousands of litres of those days and today’s fracking which injects millions of litres of water far underground at astronomical pressure. Most things when done moderately tend to be relatively benign but when the scale is ramped up by a factor of thousands, the picture gets a lot more complicated. Where is the discussion on diverting huge amounts of water from Williston Lake for use in fracking when apparently we have a shortage of water and are apparently not self-supporting in electricity? It doesn’t make sense to me, but we’re not going to get any help from Mr. Fletcher or the media in general on that discussion.

We don’t get much discussion either on the financial sense of investing billions in LNG production in a world that is experiencing an incredible glut of shale gas. China itself has huge amounts of shale gas. Are export and revenue projections based on today’s prices, yesterday’s prices or some future projections? Remember, this is a market where prices have already fallen by two thirds over the last five years. Will there be a market for us in the future and how much will it have to be subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer in the form of increased energy prices in Canada? We’re all very familiar with the boom and bust cycles of resource extraction. Does the rosy picture presented to us on our daily dose of TV commercials take this into account? Mr. Fletcher apparently doesn’t think that is worth discussion.

Rather than demonizing environmental groups, just think for a minute what the world would be like without them. For starters we’d probably have no whales although I’m not sure how many people would care about that. Acid-rain would have killed off vast areas of the planet for agriculture and forestry. Back then those environmentalists were ridiculed by all kinds of industry, government and newspaper types. Logging to the very edge of salmon-bearing creeks would have eliminated most if not all of our salmon stocks. Five years ago or more, environmental groups tried to draw attention  to the bitumen pollution of northern waterways but Industry and governments and opinion-piece writers wrote them off as alarmists.

The federal government recently admitted that actually the environmentalists were right all along. I’m sorry, but why should I trust the aforementioned industry, governments and writers like Mr. Fletcher to present me with the truth when their sorry record is one of lies and obfuscation?

I suppose the Ashcroft Journal, as part of Black Press, is forced to carry these pieces. It would sure be nice if the writers were able to present us with a mature discussion points instead of child-like he said, she said controversy. If you cannot contribute meaningfully as an opinion writer then you should just stay out of the debate. Or better still, become a gossip columnist!

Jim Ryan

Spences Bridge

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