Climate Change

Trans Mountain: A $35+ billion fossil fuel subsidy

A 2021 article here discussed a disaster risk that public and private officials prefer to ignore when promoting megaprojects. It referenced Pulitzer Prize winner Kathryn Schulz’s The Really Big One:

Just north of the San Andreas, however, lies another fault line. Known as the Cascadia subduction zone, it runs for seven hundred miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest…

Under pressure from Juan de Fuca, the stuck edge of North America is bulging upward and compressing eastward, at the rate of, respectively, three to four millimetres and thirty to forty millimetres a year. It can do so for quite some time, because, as continent stuff goes, it is young, made of rock that is still relatively elastic. (Rocks, like us, get stiffer as they age.) But it cannot do so indefinitely… If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the very big one.

…The Pacific Northwest has experienced forty-one subduction-zone earthquakes in the past ten thousand years. If you divide ten thousand by forty-one, you get two hundred and forty-three, which is Cascadia’s recurrence interval: the average amount of time that elapses between earthquakes. That timespan is dangerous both because it is too long—long enough for us to unwittingly build an entire civilization on top of our continent’s worst fault line—and because it is not long enough. Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle.

IN-SIGHTS: 321 years into a 246 year cycle

Our communities have worked steadily to improve earthquake preparedness. The efforts may be insufficient when a “really big one” strikes, but at least the risk is not ignored. Unfortunately, climate dangers are addressed with measures more symbolic than real, and small improvements are cancelled by mindless energy policies.

The linked IN-SIGHTS article also mentioned Canada’s commitment of $4.5 billion in 2018 to buy Kinder Morgan’s 65-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline. Government promised to complete the pipeline expansion project (TMX) that private sector financiers were reluctant to fund.

When first promoted, Kinder Morgan’s TMX project budget was $5.4 billion. After numerous escalations, this week’s Friday news dump brought astounding news. The crown corporation behind the project says the latest TMX budget is $30.9 billion.

Trans Mountain Corp. blamed the usual factors: inflation, supply problems, environmental issues, weather, challenging terrain, etc. While these issues were apparent long ago even to casual observers, apparently deep thinkers paid by taxpayers to run TMC were unaware.

The company made no real effort to explain how the budget could increase $9.5 billion in just 13 months from February 2022 to March 2023.

Nine months ago, Canada’s budget watchdog said building the federally owned pipeline expansion was an unprofitable investment given costs of more than $21 billion. I wrote in 2021 that Trudeau Liberals have committed so much financial and political capital to Trans Mountain they will turn blind eyes toward almost any problem encountered with TMX.

Compounding the massive direct financial cost, Trans Mountain increases risks to human survival beyond the 21st century. In 2021, The Guardian reported on the International Energy Agency’s urgent call for an end to new oil and gas projects:

Exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year and no new coal-fired power stations can be built if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating and meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, the world’s leading energy organisation has said.

…Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director and one of the world’s foremost energy economists, told the Guardian: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.”

MIT professor of philosophy Kieran Setiya teaches about the ethics of climate change. He examined existential risk of ignoring science:

In the worst-case scenarios in scientists’ climate models, human-caused climate change is a threat to the continued existence of our species. If humans do nothing to slow climate change, then global temperatures may increase by 4 degrees Celsius or more by the year 2100. This may not sound like much, Setiya says, but “it is quite cataclysmic.”

Earth has not been that warm in millions of years, and such temperature spikes in our planet’s history are connected to mass extinction events that killed off a large percentage of species that existed at the time. 

“There is a genuine possibility that within the coming century, we will hit temperatures that are deeply incompatible with the continued existence of human life,” he says.

Why do some people call climate change an “existential threat”?

Canadian industrialists, the Trudeau government, and western provinces collectively respond to warnings of climate scientists:

Forget about it. We’re not limiting fossil fuel production. We’re doing the opposite.

Categories: Climate Change

7 replies »

  1. Well when you only think in election cycles it is not an
    immediate problem; only it you think in generational terms.

    Of course Trudeau has kids and he may be a grandfather
    someday so I don’t understand why that possibility would
    not be on his radar while continuing with this lunacy.

    BC has the same type of political operators. There is no
    place left for our species to run and imagine the population
    by that time. We don’t have to worry about appearing on
    the endangered species list. Technology will save the day.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I keep thinking that whoever is behind these losing propositions will get a conscience, intelligence, and a broader perspective.

    I think it is time for the citizens of BC to begin the call for an independent and public investigation of all things Site C. Maybe in Canada a public investigation into what has gone wrong with the mega projects generally, is in order.

    This link is to a call for such an investigation into Site C specifically.


  3. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith thanks Trudeau for his $30Billion pipeline by accusing him of trying to ruin her province’s oil and gas industry with his plan to reduce fossil fuel emissions. She apparently missed his “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” while she was trying to deflect his handshake. She’ll have to learn like the rest of us to watch what he does, not what he says.

    Meanwhile in BC this morning on CKNW, Stirling Faux “interviewed” a mouthpiece for the LNG industry and he and his guest went to great lengths to paint natural gas as a wonderful and clean transition energy source. The NDP, and in particular current Premier Eby were trashed for their apparent reluctance to promote LNG to the world and do everything in their power to boost the industry here in order to enhance provincial revenues. No mention of fracking or the controversy surrounding the total impact of LNG production and use on the climate.

    Later on the very same show, the Wines of BC president and CEO appeared and informed us that there has been a steady decline in quantity of BC grape production due to climate change, and there has also been a reduction in wine tourism in BC related to heat domes and smoke from forest fires. According to him new varieties of vines may have to be planted to combat the effects of climate change.

    If at any time Mr. Faux connected any dots he neglected to inform us of the fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My advice to my good friend (neighbor) is to never listen to CKNW. The station masquerades as a news station and is intended to entertain the uneducated and the gullible. They have an opinion but are not informed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Greg, there is no doubt CKNW is but a shell of what it used to be. None of the current hosts would have cracked the lineup a couple of decades ago. But a look at the ratings reveals that there is still a very large audience tuning in. I have no idea whether they are uneducated and gullible as you suggest, but for my part I tune in periodically to see how a large portion of the electorate is being (mis)informed and how that might affect public opinion. Otherwise how would gullible old me know? Know thine enemy and all that.

        I do wonder though, since you seem to be well versed on CKNW and its listeners, even to the point of warning off your neighbour, how you do it without sneaking in once in a while?


  4. Greg. Your good friend and neighbour listens to CKNW, occasionally, to hear what BS they’re telling. There are a few people I know who listen to CKNW on a daily basis and drink (religiously], the BS that is spewed.


  5. About that climate change, yesterdays news had film of millions of dead fish in an Australian river because of heat caused by climate change. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen that many dead fish. My thought was, well there goes dinner for some one or something and that water won’t be swimmable or drinkable.

    There is this paragraph I saw a few years ago:

    you die if”

    no air for 3 minutes
    no food for three weeks
    no shelter for 3 hours in adverse conditions

    No where did it say anything about no natatural gas and you die shortly. All this building to make money just seems to benefit those who own the companies, their friends who supply the material for the pipelines and the politicians who are trying to be re elected and benefit from the donations to their political parties. Yes workers make wages but for a short time only and not much in comparison to the corporations.


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