This article is a response to a Toronto Star piece. The following letter was submitted to the Star, but the editorial staff refused to publish:
One of the problems with writers choosing the harshest, most catastrophic-sounding language when discussing climate change is those word-choices can contribute to a sense of defeatism – of giving up – among readers.
Tom Walkom’s recent column, “Climate fears are real, so oil sands must close,” is an example over-the-top rhetoric that serves nobody – least of all young people who will have to face the consequences of climate decades from now. Invoking “worldwide nuclear war” as his metaphor for describing the threat of climate change, Walkom predictably calls for a shutdown of the oil sands. While predictable, the suggestion is ludicrous.
He must be aware that global oil demand is growing and all of Canada’s responsible for just 1.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the oil sands is responsible for just 0.16 percent. Of the world’s top 10 oil exporting countries, Canada is without a doubt the most transparent, monitored, socially responsible, democratic and environmentally progressive producer. We are also the only nation with carbon pricing initiatives and a track record of leadership on clean tech and renewables.
That’s not to mention that in 2012, the Canadian oil sands contributed $91-billion to the Canadian economy, and generated $28-billion in taxes and royalties that paid for the prized social programs Canadians expect.
For many Canadians, including within the borders of Toronto, the resource industry helps sustain dreams, provide for families, and make ends meet. Even the Prime Minister has acknowledged that we could shut down the oil sands tomorrow and it wouldn’t make a difference to the world – unless India and China followed suit.
Today’s energy crisis is a problem not only for Alberta, but for Canada. Walkom should get on board and help find real solutions that take into account real people and their families.