Before the Flood succeeded in demonstrating two main facts about humans and the environment. The first is that humans have inarguably changed the environment around us for the worst. The second, and probably most important fact is we will feel the consequences of climate change a lot quicker than most people expect. For example, as was pointed out in the documentary, the polar ice caps will be completely melted in the summer by 2040. This will have an immense negative effect on ocean currents, weather patterns, sea levels, etc. 2040 is only about 20 years away.
The only to combat climate change is to address human behavior and over consumption. This was highlighted in the documentary. I felt that whenever director Fisher Stevens wanted to make a point about how developed countries over consume, he used America as an example. Although this probably strikes home with most of the documentary’s viewers, the fact that I grew up in Canada made it hard to relate to some of this evidence. So, in this blog post, I decided to research how the Canada consumes and produces energy compared to citizens of other countries in the world.
Canadians consume more energy per capita than Americans, which probably isn’t so shocking for a country that withdrew from the Kyoto agreements. Canada, though, faces similar issues to the United States. For example, most of our energy consumption is a result of the transportation services sector. However, we also face a unique issue, namely the extremely pollutant oil sands.
The oil sands, which were also mentioned in the documentary, are both a blessing and a curse to Canada. Thanks to the oil sands, Canada remains a relevant economic player. People’s lives also depend on the oil sands. According to the Government of Alberta, the oil sands employ 133,000 people. On the other hand, the in order to refine one barrel of oil trapped in the sand, it takes 4.5 barrels of clean water. That is why the oil extraction areas in Alberta consume as much fresh water as the city Calgary. Also, refining oil in this manner is 22% more carbon intensive than normal methods.
This all goes to say that the oil sands debate is not cut and dry. Although it is necessary in the long term to cease refining the oil sands, Canada cannot just stop producing oil immediately. The process must be gradual.
Alberta, Government Of. “Facts and Statistics.” Alberta Energy: Facts and Statistics. Energy Alberta, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
“Analysis.” Households and the Environment: Energy Use: Analysis. Statistics Canada, 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
“Energy.” Statcan.gc.ca. Statistics Canada, 07 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Lewis, Barbara (10 May 2012). “Insight: Canada’s oil sand battle with Europe | Reuters”. Uk.reuters.com. Retrieved 2013-08-27.