I don’t really LIKE the idea of pipelines gouging their way though our forests and rivers and pristine mountains … but I DO want to get in my car (or a taxi) and drive to the airport so I can fly off on my next vacation or to a family event … and I’d prefer to keep the jobs and revenues, royalties and taxes in Canada to get the gasoline so I can do all that.
And I also want the fuel we need for millions of others … and the jobs and revenues that flow with it … to come from Canada.
Stagecoaches just won’t cut it!
Henry Ford knew that and brought us the gasoline-powered Model “T” in 1908 … even though many at the time warned that people would die as a result of that overhyped speedster capable of warp speeds of up to 45 miles per hour!
In fact, the FIRST motor vehicle fatality actually took place well before that, in Ireland in 1869 when Mary Ward fell from a steam-operated motorized carriage and was crushed when the rear iron wheels rolled over her.
Insanity, cried the horse and buggy fans! More people will die! And they were right … not just on the pot-holed dirt and gravelled roads of the time but in HUGE numbers comparatively after the Model “T”s took to the streets and public officials encouraged the madness (and corporate profits!!) by paving streets, then roads and eventually …at huge costs …highways linking cities!
The critics were right! MANY MANY more died …thousands and, over time, hundreds of thousands, as the gasoline flowed and vehicle speeds continued to climb into … who knows where it will stop!
But I think, although Vancouver’s Vision council may beg to differ, the car is here to stay …despite its human and environmental costs.
Why? Because despite its several flaws, the overall benefit to society has been an enormously positive one.
And I’m sure the Wright Brothers would agree.
Remember them? And what many, many believed was an impossible, insane, highly dangerous silly effort for man to fly like the birds.
People would die, the concerned citizens warned! And why do it? We already had cars (capable of speeds up to SIXTY MILES AN HOUR!!! And trucks too. And trains, rolling across the entire continent … efficient, even luxurious, and … relatively … environmentally friendly.
Once more the critics of flight were right: people died!!! The first being Lieut. Thomas Selfridge who, in 1908 didn’t listen to the naysayers and took off with Orville Wright on an ill-fated flight that crashed into the ground, injuring Wright, killing Selfridge and spewing gasoline all over the ground..
Stop the madness, the ground-lovers demanded. Before more died!
Once again, THEY were right: planes kept getting bigger and bigger … first six seats, then 10 right up to, when I was a kid, the humungous Vanguard … 100 seats: truly a risky venture, especially after a smaller Air Canada Viscount had crashed on a flight to the U.S…. once again killing a passenger and spewing gasoline all around the accident site.
Yes, people have continued to die and crashes have continued to damage the land and harm the environment: yet the planes kept getting bigger, the fatalities can now number in the hundreds at a time and the environmental impact … even when planes do not crash … is well documented.
Yet more and more of us are flying … not because we don’t understand the risks or impacts, but because aviation is now an integral part of our existence.
And so are pipelines.
We don’t like them; we worry about their impact … on the environment, on wildlife and even on people … but we all USE the crude (or should that be crud) they carry.
Is it fair that we demand other countries bear all the costs … environmental included … to get us the oil supplies we use? Is it environmentally defensible that we demand that oil be shipped thousands of miles across the sea to serve our needs, but don’t want to ship any of OUR oil across the sea to others? Or that we don’t want pipelines from Alberta to bring us oil serve our own domestic needs here?
Not to mention the BILLIONS of dollars in revenues, royalties., income and retail sales taxes and the thousands of manufacturing, supply and construction jobs already tied to Alberta oil sands projects. Or the huge numbers of jobs … direct and indirect …tied to any pipeline project (East or West) inherent in the construction, maintenance and, yes, repair, of such huge pipelines, including rare opportunites for First Nations Canadians to get good paying jobs close to home too.
The critics ARE right: there WOULD be pipeline spills; there WOULD be accidents and environmental impacts.
BUT effective systems CAN be put in place to MINIMIZE any incidents or damage … and when they still happen (and they will) they can be repaired, mitigated and, where warranted, even prosecuted. And resource companies must be required to restore lands they impact in their operations.
However, the truth is … like the Model T and the Wright Brothers … despite the risks and problems, the need and the overall benefits from pipelines OVERWHELMINGLY override the fears of those who oppose them.
Unless we’re all prepared to substantially reduce our use of oil.
And bring back the stagecoach.