Greg Perry's View

For June 23, 2021.

Dear Editor: As we are enter fossil fuel’s twilight decades, we have to wonder what kind of legacy Alberta’s oil industry will leave us.

The stock of Alberta’s inactive and abandoned wells is growing at an alarming rate. Alberta Energy Regulator reports more than half of Alberta’s wells no longer produce oil or gas, but have not been fully dismantled. That includes 97,000 wells that have not been properly closed and another 71,000 wells that have been closed, but not properly cleaned.

The numbers are astounding: a 50% increase between 2015 and 2020 led the Liberal cabinet to announce $1.7 billion to help Alberta to clean up its act.

In April 2020, when oil prices fell below zero for the first time ever, many small and medium companies just stopped pumping, folded up their tents and went home leaving landowners in a lurch. A year before the COVID outbreak, CBC reported rural Alberta was on fire over the issue of abandoned wells; landowners were up in arms. Even in the eyes of oil-friendly Albertans it was clear the once mighty resource sector had shamelessly, in the face of adversity, abandoned their social responsibility.

There are, of course environmental and health problems with abandoned wells. They leak over time and contaminate both crops and pasturelands.

Alberta’s aging and depleted conventional oil patch is not profitable in today’s energy market, nor does it have resources to clean up its own inevitable shut-down. Ending the use of fossil fuel turns out to be not quite enough, Canadians are also left with the unanticipated clean-up costs to a dirty legacy.

Jon Peter Christoff , West Kelowna

Canada must face history of marginalization

Dear Editor:

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a May 31 news conference addressing the hideous discovery of children buried on the site of the Kamloops residential school, said “these were clearly systems in place to kill them.”

We, like every other country, have a history. “We must have an inquiry,” I’m hearing “Tools of genocide” is a phrase being used. I agree. Every ghastly thing done in this life has been done for two reasons — power and money.

Let’s have an inquiry into the immigration policies that brought scores of immigrants — Asian and Eastern European — into the country at the turn of the century for the sole purpose of providing labour at negligible cost for major companies.

Many of these immigrants died performing labour so dangerous, the deaths of many were anticipated — and they are buried, in most cases, in not only unmarked but unknown graves at work sites across Canada.

Let’s have an inquiry into the deaths of the multitude of people during the Depression, particularly on the Prairies, from malnutrition and starvation, who are buried, in most cases, in unmarked graves.

Let’s have an inquiry into the countless people over decades who died without medical treatment because of the crime of poverty, before the advent of universal health care.

Let’s have an inquiry into the legions of women who died as a result of the toll taken by too many births and the dissemination of birth control information to women being a crime in this country until late in the 1960s.

Let’s have an inquiry into the many people who were locked in mental institutions for the crime of “shell shock,” or post-natal depression or mental incompetence or just for being inconvenient to someone, who were warehoused, experimented upon, and died there, buried in largely unmarked graves in the cemeteries of these institutions.

Let’s have an inquiry into the ongoing deaths of our elders in long-term care, where “care” is often a misnomer, where they are often neglected, destroyed mentally, emotionally and physically for the crime of being old.

The “tools of genocide” indeed. Were any of these people offered the dignity they deserved?

Elaine Lawrence, Kelowna

Finding reason never more vital than it is today

Dear Editor:

What if an internet troll said something that, on the surface, seemed totally nuts, but said it with the seeming conviction and anger that it aroused your adrenaline?

In this aroused state, you might think there might be something to this, but as the adrenaline levels dropped, you might be more skeptical. However, if the crazy notion got repeated again and again, well, like a friend of mine, you could remain in a prolonged state of irrationality.

Q-Anon, Alex Jones and Fox News deliver anger, artificial intelligence the repetition. So, despite the overwhelming evidence of climate change, people can be convinced by bad actors that it isn’t caused by humans.

Despite the obviousness (and evidence) that masks and vaccines will get society back to normal, people can be stirred to outrage and become anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. Without any evidence, if you bellow loud enough and repeat the lie over and over, you can get huge swaths of people to think that Donald Trump won the election.

And despite the ludicrousness of Q-Anon … well, you get the picture.

Adrenaline is great in nature. You see a predator; the hormone gives you extraordinary abilities to flee. Meet a rival for food or for mating and adrenaline allows you to fight first, and if that doesn’t work, to flee safely. You see an attack on your offspring, it pumps you up to turf an otherwise formidable attacker. But when humans use this evolutionary response to manipulate others — almost always for financial gain (climate change denial: oil barons) — then this is where the real danger lies.

Who can we trust?

All media has some bias, but calling the New York Times fake news is beyond the pale. Most mainstream media evolved slowly such that gradually checks were put in place to do fact checking and self-examination for bias. They generally try to avoid adrenaline provoking outrageousness. Many internet sources, on the other hand, are like the game of whack-a-mole where they pop up unchecked and unregulated and gain viral status via fire and brimstone. And once viewed, internet algorithms bring to their audience more and more of the same.

It is hard to tell whether this out-of-control train can be exited. Perhaps, like my friend, the corrosive effects of adrenaline will cause enough self-harm that we examine the source of our collective anxiety.

Maybe the players who profit so highly from this polarization will finally look over the brink that they are bringing society to and back off. If ever there was a time for clear-headed rational thought it is now.

Anthony Neville, West Kelowna

In your own Words

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