There’s a funny thing about obsolescence. Some people see it sooner, and some realize it’s happening much later, often to their detriment.
Here’s an example. Regular transatlantic steamship service was initiated by the British in 1838. Yet some in the sailing ship industry continued to put their efforts into building bigger and faster masted clipper ships, even until the 1860s. They had been masters of the seas for centuries and didn’t want to admit that the reliability and greater holding capacity of steamships were requirements of the modern age. Their finances took a huge hit over the three decades it took them to give up or to change.
Another historical example was the practice of owning slaves in pre-Civil War U.S.A. Again, there was a financial perspective. Southern plantation owners insisted that having slaves was necessary for their economic viability.
But as early as 1696, Quakers in Pennsylvania recognized the moral obsolescence of slavery. It took another 169 years before slavery in the U.S. was finally abolished. And still there were those who argued for its continuation. It’s hard not to question the intelligence and morality of those hangers-on.
Now it’s the oil and gas industry’s turn to recognize its obsolescence. There are financial and moral imperatives to change to renewable and clean energy sources. The easily tapped sources are gone, and industry has to pay more to get at what remains, hence a much smaller profit margin.
And any finite resource will eventually run out. Businessmen and politicians with foresight will invest in cutting-edge ideas and technologies to develop alternatives.
I find it hard (or should I say impossible) not to question the intelligence and morality of those still extracting and selling oil and gas as well as those who legislate in favour of the oil and gas industry. How can they logically continue to invest in a doomed industry? How can they morally justify endangering life as we know it by promoting the burning of fossil fuels?
The Harper and Pasloski governments must change their stances on the environment. Otherwise, they will be proving to us that they themselves are obsolete.