The site is notable for the voice it gives to extreme environmentalists. Space is given on a monthly basis to the legendary Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, to air his brazenly untruthful innuendo, as in this response of his to the Canadian government’s nationalization of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline:
“Trudeau told oil executives last year that “no country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave it there. That’s apparently how much he plans to dig up and burn – and if he’s successful, the one half of 1% of the planet that is Canadian will have awarded to itself almost one-third of the remaining carbon budget between us and the 1.5 degree rise in temperature the planet drew as a red line in Paris. There’s no way of spinning the math that makes that okay…”
Yet again, to be on the safe side, we’ll point out that his absurd “conclusion” would take over 150 years of oil sands production at 3 million barrels per day, and there is no way of spinning that math, yet the Guardian happily allows it. McKibben’s tactics were brilliantly explained in a recent Global News piece, not about McKibben but about the pioneer of his communication techniques – Russia. The story explained the Russian practice of “maskirovka”, which has been used for centuries, and is three-part strategy: “distract your opponent, disguise what you’re really doing and spread disinformation to sow confusion and delay a response.” His messaging differs, but the technique is clearly the same.
As it turns out though, perhaps I need to give the site more credit, because it did recently cover a story that should warm the hearts of even battle-weary energy-affiliated Canadians. It was a pleasant surprise to find in The Guardian an article outlining some brilliant Canadian technology that may permit not just carbon capture and storage, but also enable the captured CO2 to be used as fuel. The idea isn’t new, but the breakthrough the Canadian firm (Carbon Engineering) has made is that it “has now begun directly synthesising a mixture of petrol and diesel, using only CO2 captured from the air and hydrogen split from water with clean electricity” as per the article, the cute spelling of “synthesizing” and the word “petrol” left for your enjoyment.
Perhaps what attracted the website’s attention was the involvement of two of the best business brains to have ever graced the planet – Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Canada’s very own Murray Edwards. The two are major investors in the privately held company, and one can bet that presentations to their board will not be made by numbskulls. Not twice, anyway.
Two things stand out as particularly great about this story. First is that this technology, if it works on as large a scale as the company hopes and is thus far demonstrating, could be the smartest and least disruptive way yet envisioned to deal with CO2 levels and climate change (if you want to debate the relevance of climate change and CO2 levels, go nuts in the comments sections free of my interference; I don’t have time for the discussion, the world sees it as an extremely serious and policy-shaping issue, the topic is part of the business landscape as even Steve Williams of Suncor discussed recently and it is now simply another variable that can’t be ignored). The notion of chasing people off fossil fuels in the next few decades to lower global CO2 levels is absurd when oil consumption sets new records every year; a technology like this might be the perfect complement to our global standard of living requirements as we gradually transition to green energy. Hats off to The Guardian for acknowledging such a solution; these sorts of things seem to drive people like McKibben up the wall. They don’t want solutions, they want a fight, and they are well paid to do so.
The second thing that is incredible is this. Imagine how cool it would be if this technology succeeds from its headquarters in Squamish, BC. If it gets successfully commercialized and revolutionizes the fight against rising CO2 levels, western Canada would be home to both the largest boreal forest reserve in the world, and be home to the greatest, greenest, least disruptive climate-saving technology in the world. The region would go from a squabbling environmental pariah to a poster child for green technology and wilderness preservation, and it would lay claim to the single biggest advancement in the world of climate change. And, wouldn’t it be nice to have BC and Alberta both being part of the story, after the, er, fun time we’ve had lately?
Let’s hope Bill and Murray can do for this technology what they’ve done for their big businesses.