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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.


Natural Resources Canada. (2005, February 1). Land and freshwater area, by province and territory. In Statistics Canada. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

Farquharson, V. (2011, November 12). Why Toronto should be more like Edmonton. In National Post. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

Government of Alberta. (2009, September). Energy Economics. In Energy Alberta. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

The Globe and Mail. (2012, September 11). Shell warns about Alberta’s emission rules. In Industry News. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

The Canadian Press. (2012, September 4). Natural Resources Drive 20 percent of Economy. In CBC News. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from

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

              Information Administration. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from



Austen, I. (2011, December 12). Canada Announces Exit from Kyoto Climate Treaty. In The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

Winter Shoes Time Lapse

1 Jan

So this isnt exactly hot off the press, but I havent posted it yet. When my winter tires came in I was more than anxious to put them on, but being smart, I waited until we had a good first snowfall to try them out. This winter Im rocking the Gerneral Altimax Arctic’s, which when studded, and combined with quattro theres definetly no messing around in the winter wonderland in which I live for 8 months of the year. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Caution: Crack

Cats and Cows and Bears oh my…

23 Oct

Favorite youtube videos of the day goto cyriak. With some truly bizarre animation that will get you scratching your head. Whats almost more funny than the videos themselves is the comments below. Such as “mind = blown”, “just an average day in my neighborhood”, or “I like the part where the cats meow”. It’s strange that comments are fast becoming one of my most entertaining experiences on youtube. I really do not know what else to say. Just watch.





26 Mar

So after 10 weeks of travelling through 5 countries and thousands of kilometers, I find myself now sitting in my office at home. Its so difficult to adjust I find, one day your exploring a village in India, and the next your home in Canada. The hot water works whenever you want it to, there’s always toilet paper, cars don’t try to hit me when I cross the street, its so very different.

I will be showcasing some photos that I took over the course of my recent travels, having sorted through over 3000 photos to find just 200 of my favorites was no easy task. But keep an eye out for those soon. I have a snowboard trip to Montana this weeked, but when I get back I’ll be posting some up.

So for now, I’d like to share some of my recent findings on youtube. Here are three videos I watched last night. One is by a favorite band of mine, the Gorillaz, in a new video which really surprised me, Bruce Willis? Really? The song also feature Mos Def. The second is a commercial by Tropicana, its a special commercial to me because it takes place in the Canadian Arctic, a place I know all too well. Its definetly one big push to get the locals drinking Tropicana, but hey, its fun and it made me smile. The final video is a short film called Uncle Jack, take a minute to watch this, I thought it was very well done.

In the mean time, stay safe!

Fresh from Vancouver: Gallery Prints Are In!

21 Dec

They are in! The new canvas gallery prints, stretched over 3/4″ mount, black edges, complete with mounting wire and hardware, they are ready to hang! Complete with description cards, check them out, and let me know what you think.

Large ones are 24×32, smaller one is 18×24. Each print comes with it’s own 10×15 description card with details about the particular photo.

If you are interested in obtaining one of these, or would like a canvas print of any of my photos, contact me!

You can view them on the FivePuddles Facebook Fanpage by clicking here!

Edmonton in Time Lapse

13 Nov

So over the last 2 weeks, when the sun goes down, I have had a little habit of heading outside with my new Canon T1i. My roomate would ask, where are you going so late? I’d reply to shoot some time lapse of course, and close the door.

Time lapse is something fairly new to me, so I’m experimenting with it. Armed with a backpack, tripod, timer, camera, bottle of water, a book, and an iPod, I venture out into the dark to find interesting, sometimes obscure locations to shoot from. Heres a couple photos from my most recent shoot as well.

I finally got around to putting a bunch of clips together from my shooting, threw some what I thought to be fitting music ontop, and let her rip. So here is my first sample, let me know what you think and rate and comment if your on youtube!

2 Paddles, 1 Canoe, a Different Perspective

22 Oct

It was 4:30am Saturday Oct 17, 2009, as I drag myself out of bed. It is at this point that I regret not getting to sleep until 1:30am, should of brought that monster energy drink along, I think to myself as we cruise south down the highway in the darkness. We’re in the Suzuki XL-7, with a 16ft fiberglass canoe hastily strapped to the roof, heading southwest of Edmonton; upstream of the North Saskatchewan River. My friend Lucas and I had this last minute idea to paddle down the river on what looked to be one of the last good weather weekends of the year, although the snow and cold earlier in the week didn’t boost our confidence.

two men and a canoe 037We push on down the secondary highway system, headed towards the Genesee Bridge, about an hour and a half drive away. When we get there it’s still dark, as we pull down the canoe from the roof and carry it down to the water’s edge, and begin loading the gear into it. Just as the sky begins to brighten, we’ve pushed off from the shore, floating through the fog, as a bright red dawn reflects off the water. It’s almost surreal as we paddle quietly past the riverbanks. “I sure hope we don’t tip” Lucas says. Thinking about how I’m wearing the only clothes I brought, and how cold the water is, I couldn’t agree more, falling in… would suck.

This was supposed to be an overnight trip, and both of us had things to do on Sunday, so we pushed hard the first day to cover some ground errr.. water. Fall is a beautiful time for a canoe trip down the river, the leaves are all turning color, and if you look carefully, you can spot bald eagles soaring above. Canadian and snow geese are all along the river. Flying in perfect V’s over the water, they are abruptly interrupted by Lucas’ attempt at a goose call, “uuuaahhhh!” he screams, as I burst out laughing, “That was terrible!”

two men and a canoe 106The river is fairly easy to navigate in this section, but with a very dry year with little rain, the water level is very low. Occasionally Lucas yells “Rock!” as I steer hard to keep us from hitting the boulders patiently waiting to rip a hole in an unsuspecting canoe. At other times, you look down into the clear waters and find yourself in only a few inches of water as you glide over a rocky sandbar hoping you don’t bottom out. By the end of the day our shoulders and backs tell us it’s time to stop, as we begin to hunt for a good place to land and make camp for the night. We find a rocky beach and push ashore, dragging the canoe up out of the water. After setting up the tent and cooking a quick meal, it doesn’t take long before we’re both fast asleep. Three hours of sleep followed with nine hours of paddling down a river is the perfect recipe for a quick pass out.

10430_305958975496_511335496_9525711_7101639_nMy sleep is only interrupted at around 2am, by the sound of rain pouring down on the tent. Lucas is up too, as I peek out of my mummy bag, “Can you imagine packing up camp and paddling the rest of the way in a down pour tomorrow?” I say, before falling back asleep. When I open my eyes in the morning, I am glad to not here the sound of raindrops on the nylon tent. I get dressed and crawl outside, Lucas sticks his head out, “Aw man, I spent so much time thinking about how I’m going to wrap myself up in garbage bags to stay dry today, and now it’s not even raining!” I chuckle as I start to pack things up. It doesn’t take long before we’re back on the water pushing towards the city.

Bridge after bridge we paddle into the city, enjoying a very unique look of the city that we both grew up in. Our arms are burning, and sitting on a hard canoe seat for 2 days is not the most comfortable. But neither of us regrets it. We get back onto dry land near the low level bridge, as we strap the canoe in the back of the truck, all 10 feet sticking out the back, “It’ll be fine!” we say, as we drive off down the road. 2 paddles, 1 canoe, a different perspective, what better way to spend a weekend in October…