The Carbon Bubble by Jeff Rubin. I got this book for Christmas, it had made it on my “wish” list and I was quite pleased to get it.
The title really gives it away, but this book is about Oil and carbon based fuels. The first part of the book Mr Rubin highlights “the science” behind the issues of the day (i.e. Climate change) that is part of the backdrop.
In this first part of the book there wasn’t a whole lot really new to me. The next parts of the book were what I was waiting for.
Mr Rubin writes about the economics of oil and in fact asks some questions that I’ve found myself asking in recent years as the Harper Government was changing environmental regulations and ramming forward oil sands development.
With many nations beginning to move away from carbon based fuels, with the US not only becoming more self-sufficient but as a major exporter (meaning, yeah, they’re not really buying our oil anymore which was part of the business plan… now they are our competitors…) and with slower growth in emerging economies such as China (who is also making a push into renewable energy), is the increasing development of oil sands production a good path economically? Is there a chance that all those investment $$ would be lost and would end up as what economists call “stranded assets”.
I found this book easy to read, it flowed well and I looked forward to “the next” page.
On the issue of oil sands development and it’s place in Canada, there is something that I generally find alarming.
It’s simple really, I understand that right now the oil industry is hurting and many people have lost work. A ton of people who would travel back and forth lost those opportunities.
What I find slightly alarming is that many of these jobs weren’t really created in the Alberta oil sands as much as the work force shifted where people had to move their families or work far away from home. Since the Canadian dollar was so strongly linked to the price of oil thousands of manufacturing jobs, of which some were decent paying positions, left the country due to the increased expenses.
The other thing which strikes me is that for many people there are questions you simply shouldn’t ask. For example, “Are expanding the oil sands development, and subsequent pipelines the best long term investment not only for Alberta but all of Canada?”. Are there other possible investments which would be in line with the changing climate and the changing world economy?
Mr Rubin has some interesting ideas on what those other areas of investment could be. Not exploring these other possibilities while old markets have become our competitors and other markets have seriously slowed puts more wood in the fire.
I remember seeing the comment on an online discussion that I was in for a news article about pipeline development that had me wonder a bit. The comment was this: “You should have some national pride and support the pipelines” in which the context was to create jobs. I’m all for creating good jobs.
However, I don’t think anyone should be supporting anything based on pride. Our economic decisions should be weighed against global economic conditions and where the topic at hand deals with the subject of our ecosystem, we are no longer just dealing with traditional economics.
We also have an opportunity to be a good global citizen. Something which is badly needed in today’s world.
I believe in questioning everything and along with questioning is decision making. So even if someone casts doubt on climate change being caused (partially or entirely) by humans, please tell me how all this pollution isn’t harmful. All the spills, some of which are covered up. How BP’s deep water well spill hasn’t and won’t cause any harm to our oceans, food chains, marine life..etc. Should it not matter that ground water is being polluted and that it is INEVITABLE that we see other environmental catastrophes.
Seems as though we are willing to keep polluting, on the great hope that we’ll be ok or we’ll figure it out later.
That’s enough for now.
This book is worth the read!