I still think some of the best Good News stories around–when it comes to environmental issues–are those about Transition Towns. So, I’m going to start off with some links on Transition Town articles and info.
The Council of Canadians has provided a list of Canadian cities that are official Transition Towns and those that are “mulling” it over. Not surprisingly Nelson, BC, is on the list, but maybe a little more surprisingly, Vancouver BC, and Ottawa and Guelph Ontario are also on the list. For some additional info on the principles of Transition Towns, check out the Transition Network website. Powell River also has a fairly comprehensive website for their Transition Town initiative. Take a look at Transition Town Powell River.
Deep Horizon Fallout.
The issues in the Gulf of Mexico has got some people talking about why we are drilling in such difficult and challenging locations. Those that have an understanding of Peak Oil already know the answer to that question. But Peak Oil “believers” have spent some time ousted in the lunatic fringe. As the reality of Peak Oil gets closer though, it has also started to hit the mainstream. Today, it got about as mainstream as it can get. In Obama’s presidential news conference he said:
The fact that oil companies now have to go a mile underwater and then drill another three miles below that in order to hit oil tells us something about the direction of the oil industry. Extraction is more expensive, and it is going to be inherently more risky. And so that’s part of the reason you never heard me say, “Drill, baby, drill.” Because we can’t drill our way out of the problem. It may be part of the mix as a bridge to a transition to new technologies and new energy sources. But we should be pretty modest in understanding that the easily accessible oil is already been sucked up out of he ground, and as we are moving forward the technology gets more complicated, the oil sources are more remote, and that means that there’s probably going to end up being more risk. And we as a society are going to have to make some very serious determinations in terms of what risks are we willing to accept. And that’s part of what the commission I think is going to have to look at. I will tell you, though, that understanding we need to grow, we’re going to be consuming oil for our industries, for how people live in this country, we’re going to have to start moving on this transition.
Wow! That’s some pretty heavy stuff–emphasis mine. It will be interesting to see what commentary, and possible action, comes out of this. I cut some of the dialog out, but you can view the video here on C-SPAN. The relevant section is from 49:40 to 51:54.
There is also an interesting opinion piece in The New Yorker entitled Oil Shocks that could have served as a script for Obama’s quotes above. This part of the article really caught my eye from a Canadians perspective:
This year, the United States’ largest single source of imported oil is expected to be the Canadian tar sands. Oil from the tar sands comes in what is essentially a solid form: it has to be either strip-mined, a process that leaves behind a devastated landscape, or melted out of the earth using vast quantities of natural gas.
It is interesting to put this in context with Obama’s statement “we as a society are going to have to make some very serious determinations in terms of what risks are we willing to accept“. It seems that the Canadian Government and Oil industry have already made that determination as the tar sands continue to receive international coverage as both an environmental and public health nightmare.