Chinese lessons for Alberta oil sons: The SinoFile
Beijing's last bout with pollution took a significant economic toll -- and the implications for Ottawa are grim.
Chinese citizens getting sick costs the Chinese economy both in labor supply and in health care costs. A loss of able-bodied workers and medical care is estimated to have cost Beijing US $112 billion in 2005, up $90 billion in just three decades, according to calculations by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published last year.
China is a step ahead of Canada's own health care privatization movement, so the burden of medical bills related to pollution is already having crushing effects on everyday citizens there.
But Canada's situation is comparable to that of China in more ways than health care. China is driven by an economic imperative exploit more and more of its coal deposits. Providing for its large population demands that it extract and import evermore fuels, but it is now clear the environmental implications of that fuel consumption have economic implications too.
Canada's domestic and overseas oil interests often observe that Alberta tar sands crude represents a major economic boon to the country, but analysts and environmentalists say its production, transmission and use would serve to drastically alter the state of Canada's environmental integrity.
The ongoing discourse for more extraction of tar sands oil often pits the economists against the environmentalists.
Kinder Morgan Canada's Ian Anderson has said some 60 percent of the $4.1 billion it would cost to realize a prospective project to double its pipeline through British Columbia would be spent in the province. The total economic impact of the pipleline expansion would be $6.6 billion, and it would create an additional 65 permanent full-time jobs, 35 of which will be in British Columbia, according to the Texas-headquartered company's estimates.
Still, the fiscal impact formulae of most pending extraction deals remain lopsided.