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Posted: May 26, 2018

Kinder Morgan should be built under one condition

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Normally, I’m pretty strong in my environmental convictions. But when it comes to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, I have to admit I’m conflicted.

Like many others, I feel we can no longer go on blissfully living in an oil-based economy spewing carbon in the atmosphere until it warms to the point we’re all living in a giant dripping greenhouse and all hell breaks loose.

The glaciers would melt. The oceans would rise. Violent storms would engulf the earth. The climate would become even more unstable than it is now. Famine, pestilence and war would break out around the world and “civilization” as we know it would become even less civil and politics more antagonistic.

Only fools and Donald Trump don’t believe in climate change.

The scientific evidence is incontrovertible. For those of you of faith, the Bible and many other religious texts say the end days will be grim. We’re in quicksand now up to our armpits and doing nothing will make it worse. The Doomsday Clock is currently set at two minutes to midnight and if you don’t believe it check the latest World Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

That’s the closest it has been since the height of the Cold War in 1953.

So, what should we do?

My answer may surprise you. I think we should go ahead with the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Now that I’ve offended everyone, let me explain.

We live in an oil-based, carbon-spewing, car culture. And that’s not even mentioning all the other machines that spout carbon including jet planes, power plants and all those farting cattle that add millions of tonnes of methane to the atmosphere, which is an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. And I’m not even talking about oil by-products such as plastics, which are destroying the world’s oceans as I sit here pounding on my plastic keyboard.

In short, we’re hooped because a ‘Great Correction’ is headed our way unless we smarten up and change our ways. I’ll try to explain, but my explanation may sound a little convoluted and counterintuitive.

Firstly, I believe we can’t get rid of an oil-based civilization overnight. It will take at least a generation. Maybe two. But we’ve got to start now. In the meantime, we’re still going to need oil as we phase out gasoline engines in favor of electric and in light of this it’s critical to keep in mind that the Kinder Morgan proposal is an expansion of an existing line and not building a new line slashed across the province.

Thinking strategically, doesn’t it make more sense to expand an old line instead of building a new one and all the environmental impacts it would bring? If the status quo is maintained and the Kinder Morgan line is denied, Vancouver gas prices could climb to $5-a-litre. They’re more than halfway there now. Can you imagine how the Left Coast lotus eaters would scream if they had to pay more for a litre of gas than their morning cup of frappo-cappuccino?

Wouldn’t it be strategically smarter to allow the Kinder Morgan line to go ahead, but ensure it would be the last oil pipeline built in the province as we make the lengthy and difficult transition of replacing gas engines with electricity. And don’t kid yourself about electric engines. They’re getting better every year. Battery technology is also improving dramatically. Electric vehicles would not mean building more dams in B.C. including Site C.

If the Kinder Morgan line was built it would end the costly political war between B.C. and Alberta. We could be friends again and stop fruitlessly fighting our battles in court. The only ones that benefit from that are lawyers.

So, let’s get real and celebrate the building of the last oil line in B.C. Everyone would benefit and so would the environment.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who believes coffee tastes best when brewed by electricity.

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