View topic - Neil Young and the Alberta oil sands on CBC radio...

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2014, 9:28 am 
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idylwyld wrote:
JF wrote:
...The main difference appears to be that Hiroshima was rather quickly rebuilt and repopulated.


166,000 people killed in Hiroshima within four months of dropping the bomb. You want to compare this event to the oilsands. That has gotta be a joke? :-?

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2014, 10:46 am 
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ice-breaker wrote:
166,000 people killed in Hiroshima within four months of dropping the bomb. You want to compare this event to the oilsands. That has gotta be a joke? :-?

If you want to misquote Neil Young, be my guest. But it certainly doesn't make your argument any stronger. He appears to me to be talking about "visual" and "environmental" impacts, and not mortality outcomes.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2014, 5:21 pm 
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This fellow worked with Neil Young's crew when they went to Ft. McMurray to film, and it seems to me that he provides a well written honest opinion that is worthwhile to read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tim-moen/neil-young-oilsands-fort-mcmurray_b_3913372.html

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2014, 8:45 pm 
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ice-breaker wrote:
he provides a well written honest opinion that is worthwhile to read.

I agree … Neil Young appears to have his mind made up. The industry has one set of interests, First Nations have theirs, residents of Fort McMurray who are green have theirs, filmmakers, workers in the oil sands, arm chair environmental alarmists, policy makers, canoers, voters, consumers, etc.

Neil Young doesn't seem to be at all naive about this. The author of the HuffPo story (which is a very good story) seems to think that there is a balance of interests according to his understanding, and any short term abuses (environmental, human rights, etc.) are moderated by the greater benefit to society of extraction (wealth equals more freedom, more opportunity, and a better quality of life). But I think he is confused on this matter. It's always been what we do with this wealth that matters more (not the mere existence of it). And here, we get back into the world of competing interests, rights, human lives, long term environmental practices, legal principles, private and public benefits, short term health, long term well being, alternatives, costs, and more.

Neil Young is using his voice to have his say (from his perspective) and make an impact … he's joining the fight (and it is a fight). And he's standing up to interest that are much better organized and well financed than his own. He's mining resources from his own back yard (so to speak). Language has it's own power to shape worlds and give lives meaning. These are the tools of his trade. People shouldn't be confused about this. Neil doesn't seem to care what is going right in the oil sands (despite the author wanting to show it to him). He only seems to want to provoke and ask difficult questions, and ask what does it all mean (and can it be done better). If we stop asking these difficult questions, it might be worth asking, if we don't each learn in our own ways and share our understandings, then are we still "rockin'" or "livin'. Is the world still "free." Or are we simply paying rent, and merely subsisting off a pittance. This could be very poor world, with a great deal of material wealth in it, indeed.

I find this reaction to Neil's statements interesting. It says to me that underneath it all there is some anxiety and ambivalence there. Or else, why does he appear to have struck a nerve in the first place?


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PostPosted: January 25th, 2014, 11:46 am 
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I find this reaction to Neil's statements interesting. It says to me that underneath it all there is some anxiety and ambivalence there. Or else, why does he appear to have struck a nerve in the first place?


The reaction to Neil Young will fade away pretty quickly IMO... it will be forgotten as other issues come up. The reference to Fort McMurray looking like Hiroshima probably struck a nerve, but it will pass. A much larger issue that will make it's presence felt more strongly as time goes on is the world's use of coal.

Andrew Weaver, a leading IPCC scientist was there on stage with Neil Young and David Suzuki... Weaver's research has shown that the effects of coal use will be over a thousand times greater on climate change than those of the oil sands. But since it's fashionable at the moment to pound on the tar sands, nothing was said about coal (BTW, British Columbia nearby does mine coal and export it to China, while celebrity attention turns a blind eye).

Neil Young made the statement to the audience that the development of the tar sands will dig a hole so deep that their children will never be able be able to climb out of it... the end of clean air and blue skies, IIRC. Weaver and Suzuki were there to hear that, and IMO they know enough and understand the climate situation well enough to see that that kind of statement is somewhat misguided and misleading, when it comes to Neil Young raising public awareness. Well, never mind, it makes the news.

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PostPosted: January 25th, 2014, 8:29 pm 
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Regardless of the lack of pure accuracy of Neil Young's statements, the fact remains that Tar Sands oil is among the dirtiest on the planet, cancer rates downstream are sky-high, and the "mined" areas will never return to the boreal forest they once were. These lands will have little or no value to humans or wildlife after they are exploited.

I have relatives in Alberta, and despite my living in a beautiful region in Minnesota, I always have loved Alberta. When I was a child woodland caribou were still numerous in the northern part of the province. Now, they are essentially gone, and wildlife and open spaces are threatened over a broad expanse of the landscape.

"Think I'll go out to Alberta. Weather's good there in the fall..." Maybe not anymore.


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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 10:41 am 
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...cancer rates downstream are sky-high...


The Alberta government should be releasing the new cancer study any day now so it'll be an interesting read, although maybe biased by politics. Past studies IIRC indicated cancer rates were thirty percent higher but the small sample size may have affected significance.

The news reports on Fort McMurray and area being "a good place to catch cancer" doesn't seem to have affected the rush of workers flooding the area to find jobs. Government stats say that 1.8 million jobs have been created and thousands from the area native communities will benefit from oil sands employment.

Shell Oil is promising all kinds of perks and benefits to the area with it's new proposed development so maybe we'll get to see what's the greater need, jobs, or untouched wilderness. The news reports I've seen tell me that jobs in some of the poorer native communities in other parts of the Canadian north would be welcomed without hesitation... but there are none.

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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 12:00 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
The news reports on Fort McMurray and area being "a good place to catch cancer" doesn't seem to have affected the rush of workers flooding the area to find jobs.

Hey FT. You should try and come up with an argument in favor of oil sands development that stands by itself on the objective merits. Not merely that on relative terms, oil sands is not as bad as coal, and a pay check is more than adequate to offset increased health risks from toxic exposures in the environment and workplace.

On a relative basis, is oil sands work any more beneficial or healthy to yourself and family (even your nation) than being a teacher or nurse, or replacing your utility and fuel bill with some local power (from a solar, hydro, or wind plant) made in your Province, supporting local jobs, at lower emissions per unit of useful energy, and contributing to the local tax base?


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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 12:35 pm 
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Idyl: I could be wrong, but I'm not sure that's a fair question wrt what's more beneficial. From my experience, the major difference between the two types/sectors of jobs (nurses/teachers versus industry) is that one group is dependent on tax $'s from the other group. When the population base (and tax base) of industrial income is reduced, the available funding and number of public sector jobs (e.g. for teachers) is also reduced. This has at least been evident in my part of Ontario. We need all types of jobs, and maybe all types of power, and we need teachers to educate our students as to the benefits, value and necessity of each.


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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 1:01 pm 
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JF wrote:
... the major difference between the two types/sectors of jobs (nurses/teachers versus industry) is that one group is dependent on tax $'s from the other group.

I believe you have it reversed. Fossil fuels receive major subsidies and exemptions in public (taxpayer based) backstops and covering costs of externalities and pollution, and tax revenue for public schools covers the real cost of a service (not a fee for a profitable industry that is not paying its own way).

Schools and hospitals appear to be making every effort to live within their means. Fossil fuel not so, and are dependent on taxpayers for covering a major share of costs for private companies that aren't found on company balance sheets (but are offloaded on taxpayers and result in major profits for shareholders).

Your argument appears to be a legitimate one, but not for the individual industries as described.


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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 7:43 pm 
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Idylwyld,

Quote:
You should try and come up with an argument in favor of oil sands development that stands by itself on the objective merits.


Are you saying that I was making an argument in favor of oil sands development.... what I wrote was more objective than what Neil Young said, I showed hard numbers on jobs, native employment and the CO2 loadings from oil sands development in the bigger picture that includes coal, from scientific stiudies. Neil Young's statements were more subjective but that's what artists do.

Looking at the bigger picture objectively with some hard evidence suggests that the oil sands development will go ahead despite Neil Young's opinion, that doesn't mean I'm arguing for it.

PS.... don't forget about that bottle of beer when the Keystone pipeline gets approved.

:)

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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 9:34 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
PS.... don't forget about that bottle of beer when the Keystone pipeline gets approved.

You already lost that bet.

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 21&t=39293

"I'd bet that Keystone gets the nod of approval in February, American beer will be fine.."

That was over two years ago :doh:


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PostPosted: January 26th, 2014, 11:12 pm 
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idyl there may be subsidies and exemptions at play, I have no idea but don't doubt it. But public sector jobs do not influence the number of private sector jobs. It is the other way around. The success of private industry grossly influences, if not dictates, the number of public sector jobs. One follows the other.


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PostPosted: January 27th, 2014, 12:21 am 
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JF wrote:
But public sector jobs do not influence the number of private sector jobs. It is the other way around.

Uh … you're a bit short sighted, don't you think? Education has a pretty basic relationship to job creation. Health care too (increasing productivity, longevity, etc.).

Can you imagine the condition of the workforce (and the taxpaying public) if folks didn't go to school, never saw a doctor or dentist, etc. Life expectancy has improved significantly in Canada over the decades. Labor force participation rates too (especially for women). I'd say such public sector investments are paying significant dividends (and then some).


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PostPosted: January 27th, 2014, 8:04 am 
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Please don't suggest that I said any of the public sector jobs aren't important or necessary. On the contrary - I said we need all of them. In my experience, the number of public sector jobs are heavily influenced by the number of private sector jobs. When the private industry was hammered in the last decade (direct and supporting jobs), and the population base went down, many educational programs have been reduced as well as number of teachers. I think it's also fair to say that on a provincial level, many government jobs (e.g. MNR) and programs are also being reduced, consistent with the reduction of manufacturing jobs in private sector. With the massive influx of people in Alberta, resulting directly from the gas and oil industry, there is a resulting need for increases in public sector services. One follows the other.


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