If a tanker carrying diluted bitumen from the Kinder Morgan terminal in Vancouver ran into serious trouble along B.C.'s notoriously dangerous west coast - a statistically unusual but entirely plausible scenario - the clean-up, should an effective clean-up even be possible, and the ecological devastation, would still be ongoing as the Age of Oil itself came to an end.
Since the plan now is to increase oil tanker traffic off British Columbia from around 60 ships a year to more than 400, the chances of a substantial disaster are that much higher, especially as the capacity of the tankers also becomes greater.
Some very well-informed people are saying that this game the federal government is playing of prioritizing the current needs of a dying oil industry over the integrity of both the coastal and inland environment where the Kinder Morgan TransMountain Expansion pipeline is planned, isn't worth playing, and the increasing anger from climate activists world wide is backing them up.
Because as we all know, oil spills are only the beginning of the really bad effects of more traffic in fossil hydrocarbons, as more trade in this increasingly obsolete energy source means more burning, and more greenhouse gases entering an atmosphere already in a state of carbon over-load. If the increasingly unlikely target that Canada, and all the other nations committed to the Paris Agreement of keeping Global Warming to plus 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, were to be met, it would still mean hundreds of millions of people around the world would lose forever their homes and their means of sustenance.
Where will they go? Who will feed them? Most of the world's poor being displaced by climate change are not big emitters of greenhouse gases, but we are, in Canada, and the largest, fastest growing emitter of GHG's is the oil industry centred on the tar sands.
The political excuse for continuing and even accelerating the folly of exporting more of this noxious and very inferior product, diluted bitumen, is usually about jobs, although the figures quoted for the Kinder Morgan project (15000 direct and 37000 indirect) have recently been described by the Executive Director of the Parkland Institute, Ricardo Acuna, as a "total fabrication", and oddly enough may also include extraneous jobs (i.e., paid for by tax-payers) cleaning up various oil spills.
As clean, alternative energy sourcing is now cheaper than tar sands derived energy, and fully embracing the clean energy revolution would supply an abundance of good jobs and prosperity where it is most needed, in Alberta, and indeed right across the country, including the too frequently depressed and neglected communities of many Indigenous Peoples, any objective observer may legitimately wonder why the Canadian government is not embracing it more quickly and with more enthusiasm.
To prevent climate change from growing into an uncontrollable, runaway disaster, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, and many other authoritative international organizations have strongly recommended leaving most remaining combustible carbon resources in the ground, now. To do this would require us - I mean, our private corporate as well as public managers - to readjust the habitual perspective of viewing all exploitable natural resources as worthless until sent to market, to viewing such natural features of our land such as tar sands, forests, wetlands and topsoil, as essential in situ components of our planetary life-support system: destroy too much of them and you destroy yourself.
But as Jason Mogus, of NetChange Consulting said recently on the subject of getting the oil industry to do the right thing: "When was the last time you saw a public company - an extremely powerful and profitable one - willingly give up its assets and business model for the greater good of humanity?"
To demonstrate that he is really acting in "the national interest", the expression the Prime Minister repeatedly uses as his not very convincing excuse for supporting Kinder Morgan, he must close the door on the fossil fuel lobby, and prioritize the clean energy revolution instead.
Dave Beddoe, Greenpeace Volunteer