Last week I drove the kids to school almost every day, as opposed to Spencer walking three blocks to school, or Katrina walking half that distance to the bus stop. Are these walkable distances? Usually.
But last week saw windchills into the -47 C range, or worse. On the Friday, my truck’s thermometer said it was -37 C in Weyburn, and that was before any wind chill. The neighbours were kind enough to retrieve our son from school before he became a kidsicle.
Very poignantly, my social media was full of posts about how those who hate oil and gas so much should turn it off, right now. Go to that meter behind your house, take out a crescent wrench, and rotate the valve 90 degrees. Don’t waste time. Do it today.
For some reason, no one does.
Then I saw a few pictures of solar panels, covered in snow. Most were from who knows where, but one was most decidedly in Estevan, at an oilfield business, no less. How much power was that solar panel capable generating, one-third covered in snow, in the several days where the sun never broke through the clouds? Maybe that’s why it’s been sitting in that yard for a few years.
As I got out of my truck at lunch time, the radio told me if things keep going the way they have been (and it looks like it will), this will be the coldest February for something like 70ish years, or more. Sorry, I wasn’t taking notes. I was too concerned about plugging in my truck and getting inside.
But Zinchuk! Didn’t you know the world is getting warmer? That mankind is causing climate change?
Yeah, it’s quite evident, this climate change. It’s getting warmer. The wind chill is only -26 C today.
So it is in this context that this week Saskatchewan will take the federal government to court on its plan to impose a carbon tax here. Let me put it another way – a federal carbon tax on keeping warm. A tax on mobility. A tax on the very essentials of life – the energy to maintain it, and the energy to move around.
To paraphrase Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, if you want less of something, charge more for it. For those of us who live in this barren, frozen wasteland known as the prairies, does that mean we need less heat, too?
Whether it’s coal being burned in our power plants, or natural gas in our furnaces (and newer power plants), we need fossil fuels to function in Saskatchewan. We need it to survive, full stop. Our society is not going to revert back to horses pulling sleighs. These days, the possession of horses is largely a luxury, not a primary mode of transportation.
Last week we tied a record for natural gas consumption in this province. Someone tell me what other form of energy could possibly replace that, here, now, not 30 years in the future?
On Feb. 14, hundreds of trucks will roll out of Red Deer, Alta., on their way in a protest convoy to Ottawa. One of the key things they will be protesting is a carbon tax. The forecast for their departure is around -22 C. That night, in Regina, the temperature is forecast to hit -26 C. I sure hope those using sleepers in their trucks have an extra blanket.
As you can probably tell, I am not at all convinced of the necessity of a carbon tax. I’m not much of a believer in anthropogenic (manmade) global warming, either.
The audiobook I’m currently listening to, Guns, Germs, and Steel, talks about how various societies advanced technologically, and then conquered those who had not. There’s a lot of talk about how mankind spread out throughout the world, finally coming to the Americas about 13,000 years ago, right around the time the great ice sheets receded from most of Canada. So far, I haven’t gotten to the part where the mammoth hunters’ campfires caused those great ice sheets to melt. I wonder why? Surely it will come.
There was talk, however, about how there were various land bridges between what are now islands and continents separated by water. Those land bridges disappeared when the oceans rose several hundred feet, when the ice sheets melted. It must have been from the campfires while roasting mammoth on a spit.
Perhaps if the prehistoric Neolithic peoples of the world had simply taxed their campfires, more and more each year, those ice sheets would have never melted in the first place.
Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org