The Canadian Peace Dividend
The word “peace” conjures up images of conflict, war, peacekeeping, peacemaking, war, war—or at least the reality of war. Is it really peace?
It is not. It is a refuge. An oasis of peace. Is it perfect peace? Nope. More like a stop on the way to something else. Peace is not a warm breeze over the lawn. It is not the disappearing of scars and blood. It is not the disappearing of stains and the motion of the wheel. Peace is about comfort, the comfort of a tangible, magical fortress of peace. Our national anthem proclaims,” O Canada!”– a national motto that underscores the name of our nation, Canada, a name rooted in the name of our peoples: Northern, English, First Nations, and French Canadian.
The North—and Lake Superior—are majestic by any standard. What impresses the eye most is the distance between the beauty on the surface and the vastness and majesty of the mysteries that lie beyond. Most iconic of the coast-to-coast–that tall majestic wall of ice and glaciers—is traversed by the icebreaking great bulk carrier Queen of the North. Its far water passage is a marvel. Its large-diameter clear icebergs cruise the waters and the shorebreak of Lake Superior. It’s the stark contrast between the blank white ice sheet and the fresh blue water of the lake. A bridge of peace and grandeur.
The Canadian government has set its sights on advancing a vast infrastructure project, Keystone XL, to bring North American fuel to its most populous state, Texas. We at The Oil Drum admire President Obama’s decision to reject the project. He shared with The New York Times his reasons for making the decision based on climate change. Yet he still acted within the parameters of his authority under the law. The decision was based on a basic environmental principle: reducing global carbon emissions is good for the environment. There is no clarity—pollution costs more, and when we do something, we must act rationally. I do not believe that climate change is a hoax. As scientists continue to connect the dots and what passes for facts in the climate change debate, the needs and challenges to clean up our world and clean up our planet must be met. We can no longer do the simple dance of blame: individuals are to blame, but it is the system that is to blame.
From Canada’s perspective, the Keystone XL pipeline to Texas would increase the transport of oil from Western Canada (B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) to the American Gulf Coast. This adds to the existing Keystone Pipeline. The question is this: under what criteria are we more sensitive about environmental impacts than the U.S.? And why can’t Canada build a pipeline across its own land? Why can’t Canada have its water highway to Texas? Are we all left with a modern, prosperous, prosperous continent?
It is a vibrant land of mysteries. And the last time the world visited, there was an oasis of peace.