• Carolyn Carruthers

My thoughts on what our society would look like if there were no fossil fuels.

Considering the current deadline surrounding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project conflict, I thought it was timely to write about the issue. Ever since the conflict erupted I have been thinking, what is on the minds of those that are disputing the project? What are they hoping to achieve? Have they thought this through? What would our society, look like if we stopped all fossil fuel (mining, gas and oil) extraction?


For me not to get carried away with my thoughts, I decided to stick to a logical process of questioning. What are the numbers, what do those numbers mean and what are potential impacts to our society? As a citizen of a developed nation, how would we be impacted, if we, as a human species, did the extreme and stopped all fossil fuel extraction? What would we have to do to “save the planet” and, what impact would that have to our society?

First two questions: What are the numbers and what do they mean?

  • World population: 7.468 billion as of April 21, 2018 (https://www.census.gov/popclock/) accessed April 21, 2018.

  • Canadian population: 35,151,728 as of 2016 stats Canada (https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/12-581-x/2017000/pop-eng.htm accessed April 21, 2018.

  • total land surface area of Earth is about 57,308,738 square miles, 33% is desert and about 24% is mountainous which equals 57% uninhabitable land (32,665,981 square miles) ,total land area left equals 24,642,757 square miles or 15.77 billion acres of habitable land according to a study conducted by the University of Texas (http://www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/thoc/land.html)

Well that sounds like quite a bit of land!


Actually, that would leave just over 2 acres per person. Still, that’s reasonable!! More room than what I have right now!! But wait a minute, that doesn’t leave any room for infrastructure such as roads, transit, hospitals, schools, airports and recreation centres (things I value). So, the real number to according to the same study, to maintain our current lifestyle is more like 24 acres per person.


Let’s dive into the last question: how would our society be impacted, if we all took the same approach? Let’s say that we are disciplined enough as a collective whole (human race), to live side-by-side, despite cultural and social differences, and do this; live on 2 acres of land without infrastructure.

The first thing that I value, that would have to go is the ability to travel. No cars, no airplanes, no warm places to go to during the consistent, cold, -20 degree Celsius days. We are stuck here for the winter. No matter how long it lasts.

Alright suck it up princess, so you can’t go to another country and have some warm fun, during the cold winter. You can always go on-line and FaceTime someone or look at pictures! Rewind….wait. Right. No mining so no power, which means no internet. But you can use solar and wind power, right? Nope. You need to mine REEs (rare earth elements) for the wind turbines, and sand and coal for solar panels (yep, you need a carbon source in your panel). So that won’t work. This is starting to look hard. Let’s see what else will go that I value. Hospitals, schools, emergency services, recreation facilities, ski resorts, clean water, clean food, pharmaceuticals, fresh fruit in winter months, world economy….hmm. Kind of seems like we are going backwards in time instead of forward.

So, who and what are the self-proclaimed “environmentalist” thinking they are helping? Reduction of the basic needs in the developed world? Why? So, we can all live wondering where our next meal is coming from or if the next cold will kill us? Is that what it will take to "save mother earth"? I don’t think so. In fact, I know it won’t. I have been studying earth processes since I can remember. I am one of the planet’s biggest supporters. I spent my childhood in the bush and in the fields with our cattle. I loved riding my horse! But the times before my childhood, the times of canoe and horseback travel are romanticized versions of children’s bedtime storybooks and should stay there. The realism of past times was harsh. People died. A lot of them. That is why world population didn’t grow. That is why the industrialized revolution came and that is why we need to protect what we have accomplished. We are in a far better place both in environmental knowledge and practice in Canada, than many countries. We should be celebrating and advertising our accomplishments instead of having this “never good enough” attitude. That can be toxic. And it seems that the toxicity has made its way into the BC government.

These are my views and not necessarily the views of my employers.



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Management & Booking

 

Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

carolyn@focusenviro.com

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