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Lefty academic Thomas Homer-Dixon spreads more hooey against the oil sands
An announcement this week on joint federal/provincial monitoring of the oil sands was delayed because of the death of Ralph Klein. The notion that there could ever be a program that satisfied critics would be naive even if joint monitoring weren’t beset by political infighting, and the industry’s most unhinged critics didn’t include some of Canada’s most prominent environmental scientists.
Further evidence that foes — including leading media organs — are not interested in objectivity came in an article in Monday’s New York Times by lefty academic worrywart Thomas Homer-Dixon. In fact, Mr. Homer-Dixon doesn’t do much more than follow the Times’ own severely biased editorial slant.
In his day job, Mr. Homer-Dixon peddles “global governance” at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. That’s the theory that socialism — which has always and everywhere failed at the national level — needs to be taken global to fulfill its potential. Given that catastrophic man-made climate change is perhaps the chief justification for this attempted planetary power grab, one can hardly expect objectivity from Mr. Homer-Dixon, who embraces a range of related lousy ideas, from zero-growth societies (in which innovation would presumably be outlawed) to a desperate last-ditch defence of peak oil theory.
You will also remember the name Balsillie. He’s the guy who co-ran, then co-screwed up, RIM (now BlackBerry). Perhaps if he’d spent less time supporting ever-fashionable anti-capitalism, BlackBerry would today be in better shape.
Mr. Homer-Dixon doesn’t just regurgitate greatly exaggerated claims about the oil sands, he attempts to present development as a threat not only to the Canadian economy but Canadian democracy.
His writes that “tar sands production is one of the world’s most environmentally damaging activities. It wrecks vast areas of boreal forest through surface mining and subsurface production. It sucks up huge quantities of water from local rivers, turns it into toxic waste and dumps the contaminated water into tailing ponds that now cover nearly 70 square miles.”
Let’s start with that all that wrecking and sucking. The proportion of the Canadian boreal forest that will be disturbed by the oil sands over 40 years is 0.02%. That land has to be returned to nature. As for sucking up “huge quantities of water,” oil sands operations divert around 2% of the flow of the Athabasca River, and companies are increasingly using recycled water in their operations. When it comes to tailings ponds, as long as they don’t leak, and wildlife is protected, they are a technical problem to which the industry is devoting billions.
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/04/02/peter-foster-the-homer-dixon-line/