The cheap and easy stuff is gone. Welcome to Oil 2.0
The days of drilling shallow wells on nice flat land and extracting oil for a few dollars a barrel have come and gone. What is left is dirty, dangerous and expensive. Think tar sands, oil wars and monstrosities floating deep in hurricane alley. Instead of old-school oil spills we now get mile-deep oil volcanoes. Instead of rusting oil dippers we get giant “lakes” of deadly goop. So get used to words like “unprecedented” and “unprepared” and “devastating”. Oh yeah, and toss in a growing heap of climate shocks we are cooking up by burning it all. Let’s call that: Earth 2.0
It doesn’t have to be like this. But it is. So far.
Our only escape hatch is to do what we should have done decades ago. We need to roll up our sleeves, open our wallets a wee bit wider at first, and finally create alternatives to our Big Oil suck and spew that we can be proud of instead.
MIRROR, MIRROR ON BC’s WALL
The first step in any successful self-help programme is to admit our addictions. So gather around as we take a quick peek at a few of our big dirty secrets. Maybe we should start by admitting that Big Oil is our frenzy-buzz of choice. True story. Oil is our number one energy source in BC – by a lot. How much?
- 180 thousand barrels a day
That’s…uh…what…barely 36 times the amount spewing into the gulf. Pay the nice oil man sonny. And be sure to wipe your feet before you come in.
- 100,000 GWh per year
Huh? Surely our BC Hydro creates lots more clean electricity than that, eh? What’s that? Only half as much? Well that does suck.
- 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year
OK, OK…I admit that littering fossil fuel trash equal to 650,000 plastic bags per person every year is a dangerous habit.
THAT GIANT SUCKING SOUND
Our next dirty secret is that 80% of our oil is imported.
Every day 145,000 barrels oil “somehow” get ripped out of the ground “somewhere” else. And every day those 25 million litres of oil gets sucked and sloshed into BC “somehow”. Are you curious about the how and where? Here are a few teasers to get your quest for the truth jump-started:
- Tar sands? Well, we do sucked much of our oil down from Alberta in a long pipeline. And it ends up right at the sparkling shores near Vancouver. What could go wrong? And how much is tar sands now? How much next year?
- Gulf of Texaco? Surprisingly, half of the oil the USA extracts from the Gulf gets exported. And the number two slurper of USA oil is good old Canada. Kinda makes you wonder how all that goo gets to Canada. How much makes it to BC?
- War zones? Interesting question.
- Someone’s dinner plate? Yum, yum.
Well, so much for that feel-good fantasy of us in BC being energy self-sufficient.
In fact we need to suck harder and more every year. Turns out BC hit peak oil a decade ago and now produces barely 20% of what we use. There is a reason it is called “peak” oil, as this chart of BC oil production shows:
Bye, bye cheap oil. At least we squandered most of it on frivolity.
COOKING UP EARTH2.0
OK, the climate shocks from our oil addiction are just too depressing to explore as well right now. For today, let’s just admit we have a legal, and moral, requirement to cut our fossil fuel use 90% per person. On the bright side, at least our Oil 2.0 horror flick won’t be in our theatres much longer.
KICKING THE HABIT
One way or the other, our oil binge-ing days are almost over. Oil 2.0 is just too painful economically and ecologically. Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, says we must leave all the unconventional oil in the ground or we will destroy “creation, the world in which civilization developed.”
Our oil-sucking Infrastructure1.0 is simply incompatible with our future.
So the first rule is don’t be a dufus by buying any more oil-piggy cars, trucks, boats, ships, machinery, furnaces and whatnot, unless you are willing to abandon them before they wear out. Oh, and also suffer a lot of guilt, harassment and wallet damage along the way.
Second, when you do buy something new choose one of these: non-fossil-powered, hyper-oil-efficient or bankruptcy.
Third, since 80% of the energy we use in BC is fossil fuels, someone had better build enough non-fossil energy sources to fuel switch some of our petro-society over to. It could be you.
Fourth, you had better hope that government puts a rising price on pollution from ALL fossil fuels if you are going to have a prayer of affording non-fossil infrastructure or the non-fossil energy to run it.
Alternatively you could just learn to love being poorer, colder and more hungry as you await the next disaster. That’s the option we seem to be favouring so far.