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Energy Development & Society

14 Sep

Energy Development has shaped society. The notion that energy development shapes society can easily be attested to growing up in a place like Alberta. Even as I write this for my Global Energy Development and Society class, I can’t help but think to the buildings around my campus. The Petro-Canada building houses the Nexen Theater, and subsequently, the very room in which I attend my weekly classes after work. It’s no surprise to find that my school, NAIT, is a polytechnic institution which receives heavy funding from the oil and gas industry.

Evidence of the industry’s affect on the city is easy to see if you know what to look for. Refineries and upgraders populate the eastern edges of the city and up into the industrial heartland, mobile crane booms soar up over the flat stretches of land between the city and the international airport, assembling industrial ‘mod’s’ that piece together like Lego when they arrive on site at their destination. Even beyond the oil sands of Alberta, Edmonton serves as the gateway to the north, with bustling airports and logistics’ companies sending people and equipment up to the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon. These three territories alone make up 39% of the total area of Canada, a land mass larger than that of India (Natural Resources Canada, 2005). Yet despite its small population, the region houses a resource rich environment, from oil and iron to gold and diamonds, it’s an industry that dominates the workforce of the local population.

When posed with the question; ‘should society shape energy development?’, instead of energy development shaping society, it seems like the clear answer should be yes. Our society should have energy development that not only compliments and provides for the needs of people, but ideally does so as cleanly and efficiently as possible. This can be deemed as minor adaptations and improvements to existing technologies, or fundamental shifts in the way we currently harness energy.

Fundamental shifts cause problems in that if they are not universally accepted by all parties involved; the balance of the movement is lost, providing unfair advantages and opportunities for some, and detrimental setbacks for others. This can best be identified with the Kyoto Protocol, which has essentially failed since its inception in 1997, leaving many nations and environmental groups looking towards post-Kyoto. The Kyoto Protocol was revolutionary at the time of its inception, you had a series of industrialized nations agreeing to reduce emissions and set environmental standards. It seemed as though this initiative would change the way the global community looked at development and the environment. However the treaty itself was never actually globally accepted and “mandates were not imposed on developing countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa” (Austen, 2011). As a result, nations like the United States would not ratify the treaty, as they foresaw unfair economic restrictions on their economy compared to other heavy polluting nations such as China, which disregarded the treaty for similar reasons.

Since those initial talks in 1997, China has since overcome the United States as the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, and now produces more carbon dioxide than the United States and India combined (U.S Department of Energy, 2012). Canada too, since initially supporting the protocol has since left the treaty this past December (Austen, 2011).

The complications of energy development and our society are reflected across all levels of economic development.  These same issues resonate in the economies of national scale as well. Strict environmental restrictions may be supported by the majority of Canadians, but would surely face pushback from provinces such as Alberta in which “energy development is the key driver of the economy” (Government of Alberta, 2009). So crucial to the Alberta economy is oil and gas, that a University of Calgary study suggested that the size of the economy “without the impact of oil and gas, would be less than half its current size” (Government of Alberta, 2009). Suddenly I reflect to my current employment, the facilities I use at NAIT, and where Alberta would be without the resources everyone seems to love to hate, but would find difficult to live without.

Even if we know the answer to whether society should shape energy development, is it actually possible; ‘can society shape energy development?’.  A recent report by Shell Canada indicated that after Alberta enacted stricter air and water pollution limits this year, their projected expansion plans including the Jackpine mine,  would infact “exceed some of those limits” (The Globe and Mail, 2012). It’s clear that the Alberta government is trying to shape the way energy is developed in the province, but the effectiveness, and the implications have yet to be seen. Simon Dyer, policy director at the Pembina Institute has indicated that regulators “will need to start turning down projects to stay under the limits” (The Globe and Mail, 2012). Where will that leave Albertans, and Canadians as a whole? This is a country which relies on the resource industry for “20 percent of the economy” (The Canadian Press, 2012).  What sacrifices will have to be made? Will the rest of the global community be willing to make the same sacrifices? What is the timeline for such changes in energy development? These are all questions which we must ask.

Finding the balance between our energy needs and our society is a difficult task, but nonetheless I believe that real change is possible. While we may have developed a society reliant on certain types of energy, it is possible to diversify. I believe that change must occur, but at an acceptable pace so as not to devastate the livelihoods of so many. Finally, I believe that real change in energy development will come from those same economies, companies, and organizations that are already involved in the current energy field. For just as Alberta hosts an energy based economy; it is also a place of ingenuity and innovation. Next to those refineries is the largest and one of the most advanced waste handling facilities in North America, which boasts a one of a kind “waste to biofuels facility” (Farquharson, 2011). A preserved river valley boasts the largest urban parkland on the continent, and institutions such as NAIT and the University of Alberta are leaders in energy technological advancement.  Logical, and efficient solutions are already being brought to the table, and this is an indication that society is choosing to shape energy development.

References

Natural Resources Canada. (2005, February 1). Land and freshwater area, by province and territory. In Statistics Canada. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/phys01-eng.htm

Farquharson, V. (2011, November 12). Why Toronto should be more like Edmonton. In National Post. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/12/why-toronto-should-be-more-like-edmonton/

Government of Alberta. (2009, September). Energy Economics. In Energy Alberta. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www.energy.alberta.ca/Org/pdfs/Energy_Economic.pdf

The Globe and Mail. (2012, September 11). Shell warns about Alberta’s emission rules. In Industry News. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/shell-warns-about-albertas-emission-rules/article4537725/

The Canadian Press. (2012, September 4). Natural Resources Drive 20 percent of Economy. In CBC News. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/09/04/pol-cp-natural-resources-economy.html

U.S Department of Energy. (2012). World carbon dioxide emissions by region. In U.S Energy

              Information Administration. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

              http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=IEO2011&subject=0-IEO2011&table=10-

              IEO2011®ion=0-0&cases=Reference-0504a_1630

Austen, I. (2011, December 12). Canada Announces Exit from Kyoto Climate Treaty. In The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/science/earth/canada-leaving-kyoto-protocol-on-climate-change.html

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Anonymous: Twisting Reality

12 Feb

Fact or fiction, people love to let their minds wander in the possibility of an alternate twist to mainstream acceptance. This was the driving concept behind ‘The Davinci code’ books and films, and carries on through in the film ‘Anonymous’.

With convincing performances and a lesser known cast, which many times allows the audience to focus more on the story and less on the actor; the story of the Shakespeare we never actually knew takes an interesting twist. While the movie may irritate some lit fans, it is a well put together political thriller that may invoke some questions in your mind. Did history happen the way we were told? How has politics influenced our society? Maybe the most widely accepted and perceived factual events didnt even happen at all? Allow your mind to escape the accepted, and dwell into the realm of alternate possibilities, watch ‘Anonymous’.

Canadian National Parks: Something To Be Proud Of

7 Nov

It was 100 years ago that the National Parks system was created in Canada. The first of its kind in the world, the National Park system has grown to encompass more than 42 National Parks, 4 National Marine Conservation Areas, one National Landmark, and 167 National Historic Sites. Managed by Parks Canada, these areas have been set aside by Canadians to protect them from development, and to preserve the natural landscapes and wildlife of the country. With that I find it fitting to include a gallery of photos of some of the countries national parks, you can see the photos below.

 

Starting with the first national park in 1885, Banff National Park was merely a stepping stone into the network of terrestrial and marine areas in the park system today. By 1911 the Dominion Parks Branch was created, the beginning of our current system, and by 1930 the National Parks Act was put into legislation protecting all National Parks. These parks play a familiar role in the lives of many Canadians, from canoe trips on great rivers, camping in thick boreal forests, to skiing and snowboarding one of the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges. The expansiveness and the privilege of the natural beauty can often be overlooked, however it is important to value what so many other places on earth do not have, a natural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world to see.

2011 is the anniversary of this century old system and the Royal Canadian Mint is commemorating the milestone with special coins that you might just come across in circulation and a pretty cool commercial as well. So the next time your find yourself in one of Canada’s Parks, take a minute to appreciate not only the wilderness around you, but the effort involved to create such an icon of sustainability in our great country.

Photos courtesy of National Geographic, you can view the gallery on their website here.

You can also visit the Royal Canadian Mint website here.

Introducing: The Sheepdogs

2 Nov

For such a small population, Canada does put forth a lot of musical talent into the world. The Sheepdogs are no exception. Pushed into the spotlight by the “Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star?” contest put on by the Rolling Stones Magazine, this Saskatoon band is starting to get their name heard. With the band struggling for exposure since their inception in the Canadian prairies, the news of winning the contest couldn’t have been sweeter news to their ears.

And with a sound reminiscent from the 1960’s and 70’s that could easily fool you into thinking you accidentally flipped to the classic rock station, its nice to hear the blend of modern and classic rock in their music. Catching a glimpse of the band members will further make you wonder what decade this really is as well, yep, that’s a lot of hair. You can check out more from the Rolling Stones Magazine here.

While you may recognize the track “I Don’t Know”, I urge you to explore some of their other tracks that are just as good. So with that said, add them to your playlist, click around YouTube, and enjoy the music that is The Sheepdogs.

Skittles Ad’s: Even Weirder

19 Sep

If you thought Skittles commercials were already weird, they just got a little weirderrrr (yes I know thats not a word). Back when the ‘skittles leak’ commercial aired, I thought I had seen it all, but now this new batch released in 2011 have taken it to a whole new meaningless makes no sense kinda creepy level.

What do you think?

Chicago Style Hot Dog & Home-made Coleslaw

5 Sep

So it may not be a poppy seed bun, and it may not have the sport peppers, but here’s my take on a Chicago Style Hot Dog, complimented with some easy to make home-made cole slaw. For this dish you’ll need:

Hot Dogs/Smokies

Buns

White onion (diced)

Red onion (diced)

Green onion (chopped)

Sweet Peppers

Dill Pickles (Sliced)

Tomato (Sliced)

Red Cabbage

White Cabbage

Eggs

Celery Seed

Paprika

Vinegar

Best to start off making your coleslaw first, as this will need to cool in the fridge for some time. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, paprika, celery seed, ground mustard or a heavy spoonful of real mustard in a sauce pan. Separate a few egg yolks and add them in as well, pour a little water in and let the mixture simmer as you mix or whisk it all together. While that’s happening time for the main component in any cole slaw; cabbage. You can now chop up your cabbage, or use a grater and shred it depending on how you like it, I used red and white cabbage, but your free to use what you like. Once ready, you can add your sauce you just made and mix it all together, this is where I added in some green onion as well. And your done, easy right? Make sure to get the coleslaw in the fridge to let it chill.

Now everyone knows how to make a hot dog, but here’s a few key ingredients to get that Chicago style taste. Slice up dill pickles, tomato’s, and prepare your onions as well. Grill the hot dogs on the BBQ, and prepare your buns. If you have poppy seed buns great, if not I used large sesame seed buns. Garnish your bun with sweet peppers, tomato, red and green onion, relish, and the king of all condiments; mustard, and please, refrain from using ketchup! Finish with a small pinch of celery salt and your ready to chow down.

Coupled with your home-made coleslaw, some chips, and a beer, you’ve got a fantastic meal that is sure to please everyone. Enjoy!

Music for Today

2 Sep

Another day begins to the sound of rain on the window. Here are some fitting songs to any morning. Enjoy.