Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just another bit of hypocrisy

Recently we have heard again about the possibility of bulk water exports from Canada to the US. There followed the predictable opposition from the usual sources.

Canada has 7% of the world's replenishable fresh water and 20% of the world's fresh water inventory once we start counting glaciers and icepack.

Let me clear something up: I am deeply skeptical about the anthropogenic global warming scam that so many seem to have fallen for, but I come down firmly on the side of conservationists when it comes to local water issues. Injecting usable surface water into a hydrocarbon reservoir, be it by water flood or steam flood, takes that water out of the hydrological cycle essentially forever. This is quite different than leaving your tap running or over-watering your lawn, where the result is a wastage of water treatment capacity but the water itself is still available to the long term cycle of evaporation and precipitation.

If we are lucky and the glaciers continue to melt (far from a sure thing, given the state of sunspot activity) there will eventually be less water in rivers fed by those glaciers. This would obviously be a problem, and it is the kind of problem that does not lend itself to Kyoto-style declarations and negotiations. You can't negotiate with or regulate a dry river bed the way you can chin-wag over carbon credits.

But if we pull back from the local perspective and look at a regional or continental perspective, what do we see? Here is where the aforementioned hypocrisy jumps right up and shouts.

Who owns the water that falls from the sky? Why, if it falls on Canada, then one could suppose that Canadians own it, even though we did nothing to earn it. Had we done something to earn that water, our sense of ownership would presumably be even stronger. Fair enough.

But if we are not using it, and it is flowing away into the oceans that surround 3/4 of our country, what is the basis of our selfishness? I can only guess that it is the possibility that those awful Americans might be given the chance to use our water before it evaporates as part of its timeless cycle, rather than have it evaporate directly from our territory or from the ocean. If we could send it to sub-Saharan Africa and it cured AIDS, would we be as dogmatic?

And here is where I finally get to my point. These same hypocrites think nothing of calling for nationalization, confiscation or (at the minimum) punitive taxation of companies and provinces who risked their own money and talent on extracting and refining oil. Ownership of Canada's "free" water is somehow sacred, but real ownership of hydrocarbon resources and facilities is subject to arbitrary measures proposed by people who already benefit from the wealth it creates but who find industry distasteful.

Which way do you want it, Maude?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've been using salt water for decades in Texas for those injections. It works quite well, so I have trouble seeing why theyy ought to waste perfectly good glacier melt for the purpose.