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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

5 Step Pasta Salad

13 Nov

Step 1: Cook pasta of your choice, but ensure its not linguine, spaghetti, or spaghettini, use a penne, rigatoni, tortilglioni, or some of the other million different other types of bite sized pasta.

Step 2: Dice tomatoes, celery, onions.

Step 3: Cool pasta, combine vegetables, pasta, salt, and dressing of your choice (I used a Japanese Citron Sesame) into a container.

Step 4: Shake the container and mix it all together.

Step 5: Eat.

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.

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!

BBQ Corn? Of Course!

5 Jun

If you are thinking of what to make for lunch or supper, why not pick up some corn husks and fire up the BBQ? These are some great summer idea’s that can easily all be done on the BBQ.

For a delicious meal of sweet chili corn, BBQ chicken, and oregano lime seasoned sweet potato grilled fries, try getting these items together:

Corn in the Husk

Chicken

Sweet Potatoes

Butter

Sweet Chili Sauce

Lime Juice

Olive Oil

Oregano

Curry Paste

Mayonaise

The key to using the BBQ to cook your corn is to let the husks soak in cool water well in advance of putting them on the grill. This will prevent dried out corn and husks that instantly go up in flames, so get that corn in the sink with some water right off the bat (preferably hours before you plan to start cooking).

Next prepare the sweet potatoes, start off by setting a large pot on the stove and begin boiling water. Wash the sweet potatoes and cut the pointy ends off, and begin to cut them into wedges or slices, the size will affect the cooking time, but don’t be afraid to cut them a little big.

While you wait for your water to boil you can prepare the seasoning. Mix oil, lime juice, and oregano in a small bowl and mix it. This will be the basting sauce when they are on the BBQ. Once your water is boiling you can toss your sweet potato slices in the water and let them cook for about 10 minutes. The goal here is to get them partially cooked before going on the BBQ, so get them soft, but not too soft that they fall apart.

Now to make some sidekicks that will really set this meal off, start by making a dip for those sweet potato fries. Please leave the ketchup in the fridge, in Europe mayonnaise is the french fries compliment of choice and we’re gonna build of that. Dish some mayo in a mixing bowl, and add lime juice from 1 lime, or squirt in some from the bottle, don’t be shy with this. Next add about a teaspoon of curry paste, this you can be shy with as it really has some kick. Mix together and add more mayo or curry paste to taste. Keep mixing until you get a well blended mixture with nice color.

Next scoop some butter in another mixing dish, now you can make your own chili addition, but I find that sweet chili sauce is just as good. Pour in the sweet chili and really mix it in well with the butter, give it a taste to check the amounts, and keep mixing until you get a whipped butter texture.

You can now place those corn husks on the BBQ, pull the sweet potatoes out of the water and get them on the grill as well. These items will take longer to cook so get them on while you get your chicken ready. You can begin brushing the basting sauce on your fries continually as they cook (Tip: You can lather the fries in egg to ensure they are crispy). Turn the corn a few times, as well. For this dish, the features were the corn and the fries, so just simple boned chicken on the grill with some BBQ sauce was an easy addition to round out the meal.

Pull everything off the grill, pull the husks off the corn, and start eating! Make sure your friends get some mayonnaise mix for their fries, and lather that corn on the cob with your sweet chili butter. Yum!

Home is Wherever I’m With You

20 Jan

 

This video is going viral, and for good reason, it will make you smile. Not is only is the kid cute, but I think this video represents the type of parent many of us want to be, sharing moments like this with our children. That theme is the foundation to the popularity of the video, not because the song itself is great or anything like that. It also led to the duo being on the Ellen show, performing the same song. But I think its pretty clear, that the original video cant be beat.

Shrimp+Cashews=Yum

10 Oct

After whipping up a delicious dish the other night, I thought I’d share what it was all about. This is a pretty quick dish which only takes about 15 mins to make.

Here is what I used in this stirfry:

Shrimp, Cashews, Celery, Romain Lettuce, Ginger, Garlic, Honey, Canola Oil, Soy Sauce, Ketchup, Chili Peppers, Rice.

First things first, I cut up all my veggies into decent portions, remember that if your cooking lettuce it shrinks alot, so dont break it up too small. I then thinly sliced up the ginger and pressed the garlic, and put them both in the pan with some oil. You can start to slowly simmer your ginger and garlic while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, I read online about the use of ketchup, so I gave it a try. But before starting, you can put your shrimp and cashews in the pan and let them start to warm up. As thats going, I put a little bit of ketchup in a bowl, added, soy sauce, honey, canola oil, some water, and some chili peppers. I mixed this all together with a little bit of cornstarch to thicken it up.

I was using precooked shrimp so I didnt need to wait long to start adding everything together. I added the lettuce and celery, and then poured all the sauce into the pan. Keep your heat on medium and keep stirring it all together, and after about 5 more minutes, your done!

Served it all over some rice, but you could also serve this over noodles if you like. Time to eat!