From outer space it is possible to see our oil sands in their enormity and by the mark they leave on the face of our planet. We had no more than realized this than scientists from around the world told us that the very future of humankind was at risk from climate change. Not developing our oil sands was the biggest single contribution Canadians could make to reducing climate change.
Irony, scholars insist, is a characteristic feature of discourse in Canada as a country that has always been a privileged margin of empire. To have found the latest treasure trove only be be told we must not touch it is the perfect contradiction.
But can we in fact resist the temptation to push development anyway. More irony: we may not have to; the project collapses because that ultimate governor, the world market, creates a price for oil too low to made the oil sands viable. And the experts do not expect the price of oil to rise any time soon because of the availability of oil from shale in the US.
The signs are clear. Oil companies are pulling out of our sands, likely never to return. The federal government and the Alberta government shill for pipelines to move Alberta oil anywhere and everywhere but none get guilt and none are likely to be.
Fortunately there is a rabbit in the hat that awaits our pulling. Let governments of Canada announce a massive transCanadian clean energy project. Make a virtue out of necessity. Serve the public good, ours and the world’s.