The gold rush of the technology era is upon us but, unlike 150 years ago when men headed West in covered wagons to strike it rich, today's race is for a difference prize. Beautiful, wild British Columbia is still the promised land with all the bounty but it's capturing oil, natural gas and hydro-electric energy that has our current Conservative Canadian government frothing at the bit, towing the rest of the country behind it on a wild ride that is making many uncomfortable.
Gone is the long-standing Liberal tradition of balancing big business with globally conscious idealism — although inconsistent, it was idealism nonetheless. Last year, when the Conservative agenda pulled Canada out of the international fight against global warming by withdrawing from the Kyotol Protocol, which the previous Liberal government had signed, Canadians witnessed not only the beginning of the gradual erosion of environmental — and accompanying cultural — values that previous governments had worked so hard to introduce to the international arena, but an outright attack. But by classifying traditional First Nations beliefs, nature-lovers and scientists as extremist in order to sweep away all obstacles in the quest to supply oil to a growing Chinese economy, the government has revealed an irrationality that even the most tried and trued Conservative supporter is bound to question, not to mention that the numbers just don't add up.
In a recent video interview with the Globe and Mail, David Suzuki noted that it takes energy from half a barrel of oil to get one full barrel of oil out of the ground. Then, because the extracted oil is in such a thick, crude state, it takes two to three barrels of water to heat that one barrel up enough to melt it into a fluid state in order to get it flowing through a pipeline. Talk about energy-intensive, and this is even before we take into account what's needed to power supertankers to bring this stuff to China.
For a civilization that sends people into outer space, has created the Internet and can perform heart transplants, is this really such a smart procedure? Surely we can do better. Whereas British Columbians once bemoaned that our Western province was continually overlooked and ignored by an Eastern-based federal government, now we're front-and-centre in the oil versus environment debate and this is our time to show the world what West Coast living and innovation is all about. But teaching the world how to keep their eyes on the big picture means painting exactly what we want it to look like first.