A time for renewal

Good Sunday Morning,

For so many of us, this weekend represents a time of renewal. Blossoms budding from a lifeless branch, resurrection from the tomb, liberation from oppression, no matter the tradition, in our celebration we move past what was and embrace what will be. And sometimes to embrace what will be, we are called upon to relinquish old patterns. That's not usually easy. But it is inevitable. Opportunities don't lie in the past, they are the promise of the future.

highway.jpgThe traditional approach to predicting the future is to analyze the past. There is an interesting story that's told about that. It seems that about 150 years ago a group of experts were invited to discuss the future of the city of New York. These experts came together in 1860 and speculated about what would happen to the city of New York in 100 years. And the conclusion was unanimous, the city would not exist in 100 years. Why? Because they looked at the curves on a graph and concluded that if the population kept growing at the prevailing rate, to move the population of New York around would take six million horses. And the manure created by six million horses would be impossible to deal with, since they were already drowning in manure.

Of course today things are even less predictable than they were then. That's why a little over a year ago, Bloomberg news predicted that our energy future is going to be a free-for-all. Cautioning that what is happening now is very different from what has happened in the past. It points out that the wild card for oil is how fast cars will transition to electric. And that wild card is being played now. With electric cars rapidly gaining in popularity, a number of companies are already setting their sights on electric trucks. Mercedes-Benz will test its all-electric truck on German roads this year and Nikola is offering a technological breakthrough, zeroemission electric truck that gets 800 to 1,200 miles to a charge.

Nikola.jpgDriveless trucks are also gaining a foothold. Uber delivered 50,000 beers in it's driver-less transport last October. But it's not just the techies at Uber but Volvo, Einride and even Suncor are embracing the technology in a big way. In February this piece in the Guardian talked about the tsunami that will swallow American jobs. "As of 2015, a typical production worker in the US earned about 9% less than a comparable worker in 1973. Over the same 42 years, the American economy grew by more than 200%, or a staggering $11tn." World Bank numbers suggest that the GDP of the US actually grew by 1,500% in that period. Since the population only grew by 50% it's pretty clear that distributing our society's wealth through industrial jobs just isn't working anymore.

The reason that Tesla surpassed Ford and then GM as America's most valued automaker last week, wasn't because they have the largest workforce or the greatest production capacity but because investors are recognizing that the future is that place where revolutionary technologies converge. By combining cheap solar with advancing large scale battery technology and driverless electric vehicles, Tessla aims to place itself at the cross roads of the 21st century. This week it added to it's lineup by announcing the roll-out of electric trucks for 2018. Regardless which company will dominate in the end, this global revolution spells the end of oil and most especially, dirty oil.

And yet it's the promise of this fading industry and the disappearing industrial jobs of an outdated analog economy, that pipelines are intended to prop up.  All over the world people are recognizing that our first obligation, as David Suzuki told the 1,200 or so BC Greens who packed into Victoria's convention centre, has to be to preserve and protect our air, our water and our earth. Next Saturday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. Elizabeth will be leading an interactive discussion following the screening of the film 'Green Rights' at St. John's United Church here on the Saanich Peninsula. The film takes us around the globe to communities where the people standing up for the health of their environment have succeeded in turning the tide.

Orcas01.jpgAnd turning the tide of sacrificing our treasured world for a blind and short term economic fallacy is what we need to do right here in our back yard. On Tuesday night here in Sidney, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation will feature Keynote Speaker Elizabeth May, and other advocates for an entertaining evening of science, information and inspiration towards protecting the southern resident killer whales and preserving the coastal waters of British Columbia.

Fracked LNG and dirty dilbit are not only threatening the survival of our resident orcas but are also not the basis of a future for our own children. The world is changing and that change continues to accelerate. In 2016 renewables provided 55% of all the new electricity production world wide, producing over 11% of global demand. Progressive oil companies are making the shift because they know they are facing a major technological disruption. Building long term infrastructure for an industry that is rapidly loosing relevance is not only environmentally catastrophic but economically irresponsible. It saddles future generations with a litany of consequences that represent gross incompetence at best, and willful negligence at worst. 

With the British Columbia provincial election now officially underway, this is a great time for us to stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves. We have an opportunity to make our voices heard, not only at the ballot box but by writing letters to the editors of major newspapers and knocking on doors. One of our local editors, Christa Grace-Warrick of Island Tides, is offering in-depth coverage of the issues in this election. Among other things she has also just published Elizabeth's column about Global Greens and her trip to Liverpool. I would encourage you to bookmark Island Tides so you can visit often.

We need to pay attention, get engaged and attend community meetings. We need to stop LNG and we need to stop Kinder Morgan. It would be a travesty if our outdated political paradigms permitted the destruction of our Salish Sea by obsolete and dying industrial interests. "British Columbia promotes itself as 'Super, Natural,' and for many years it was praised for walking that talk." writes William Yardley in the Los Angeles Times. "Now, however, Canada’s West Coast is... ...positioning itself to become a global leader in exporting fossil fuels." We can do better. We can reclaim our position of leadership in protecting our magnificent coastal ecosystem. And we can do it while embracing the economic prosperity of a new carbon-free future.

Yes, this is a time of renewal. A time to engage in our political process and embrace the promise for a sustainable world.

Happy Easter,
Thomas


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