Editorial: How much oil do we need to be shipping?

Canada should be focused on leading the way, first in energy efficiency.

The federal approval of two pipeline proposals — Kinder Morgan and Enbridge Line 3 — means exponentially more Alberta oil is going to be shipped through B.C. waters. But the question has to be asked whether the benefits outweigh the negatives.

That is good news for the oil industry, and more importantly oil industry workers waiting and hoping for tar sands production to ramp up again. It’s important for the Okanagan as well, since many of those workers make their home here during their off weeks, and local industries service the oil sector.

Then there is the jobs created by building the pipelines. All good things, at least in the short-term.

But in the long-term, oil and other fossil fuels are a dead end, with a high environmental cost. Leaving aside the environmental damage done constructing the pipelines — and the potential, however small, for an environmental disaster — burning fossil fuels for energy damages the environment every day.

We’re not going to give up our vehicles, factories and an economy based on using up natural resources overnight. It’s going to take decades at the very least. But even if nothing is done, fossil fuels are eventually going to be too scarce and/or expensive to extract; then we will be forced to look elsewhere.

So why not start working on it now? Instead of taking all the short-term gains we can while ignoring Mother Nature, why not start investing in research, both in alternative energy sources and in how to shift our economy to one based on sustainability?

Someone has to offer this world hope for a new, sustainable economy. We have all the tools at hand — instead of exporting unprocessed resources in our traditional role of hewer of wood and drawer of water,  Canada should be focused on leading the way, first in energy efficiency, and making use of all the renewable energy sources we have available: wind, wave, sun and more.