On Wednesday, March 1st Sierra Club Foundation Atlantic Chapter hosted a screening of the Canadian documentary To the Ends of Earth and followed with a panel of local experts to discuss extreme energy projects in Nova Scotia.
Extreme energy, as the soothing voice of Emma Thompson explains in the film, is the energy our society is obtaining through unconventional means – hydraulic fracturing, off-shore and arctic drilling, shale deposits, tar sands – and it is the energy our growth economy increasingly relies on. The problem is that extreme energy is two fold – first, our return on investment (ROI) in these sources, that is the energy we put in to extracting
unconventional oil and gas, is decreasing. Where in the 1950s, one barrel of conventional oil may yield 100 barrels, now one barrel of oil in unconventional extraction processes may yield as little as 5 barrels. Some tactics yield even less. Our society has grown as the direct result of dependable, high return on investment energy. That era is at an end.
While both the film and the discussion that followed focused more on the high profile extreme energy cases in Canada such as Site C in BC, Alton Gas in NS, and the Alberta Tar Sands, offshore drilling and the struggles of doing so in the Arctic region were explored. Particularly, the impact of exploration activities such as seismic testing and the demonstrable inability of oil companies to effectively respond to spills directly relates to the challenges were are facing in the Gulf.
During the panel that followed there were several suggestions on how to make individual changes in energy consumption – such as undertaking home energy audits and purchasing home solar panels. However, it was stressed that action on this issue is ultimately – and necessarily – collective. It’s about citizenship – holding our government accountable and working to take back ownership over resource decisions.
- Find and SHARE reliable sources of media that question the status quo
- Engage in political discussion and stand for office
- Be an influencer by activating discussions with your peers
And, as always, donate to and keep up to date with organizations like Sierra Club doing work in your community.
Thank you to the panelists: Billy Lewis, Elder in Residence at Dalhousie University; Dr. Lindy Weilgart of Dalhousie Univerisity, Peggy Cameron of Black River Wind, and Robin Tress of the Council of Canadians.