Plans must be made for carbon-based fuels to eventually run out

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To the Editor:

Lorne Eckersley’s column (“This is the Life: Canada could lead world in economic shift”) and the value of Canadian resources covers a lot of ground. I agree with what he said and I am certain that, like me, he realizes there is much more to be said. Indeed, there have been books written on some of the subjects he mentions.

I think politicians and economists have trained us to think of our resources, and everything else for that matter, in terms of dollars the resources can be sold for, rather than in terms of the quality of life they can provide. The quality of life equation includes the size of the population using the resource, the rate of use, any damage to our planet’s ability to support life and what we do when it’s all gone. Those numbers are much more important to our progeny than how wealthy the top one per cent got or how many jobs that mining, drilling, pumping and fracking provided so that we could postpone paying the piper.

One group of scientists who worked with Paul Ehrlich in writing his book, The Population Bomb, determined that sustainable agriculture could not feed more than 3.5 billion people. Another group of scientists reported in World Watch Magazine a few years ago that our remaining sustainable sources of energy could only provide a reasonable quality of life for approximately 2.25 billion people. We flashed by 2.25 billion in 1942 during a war that killed about 60 million human beings. We just lately passed the seven billion mark and at that rate we can expect to have 15 billion by about 2080.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark claims that natural gas can be a major contributor to our economy for 150 years. She didn’t mention what factors are in her equation or hazard a guess about coal and oil. Since astrophysicists figure our sun will not burn out for another four billion years, I am concerned about her lack of predictions for what we earthlings will do after the carbon-based fuels run out.

Whatever we do, it’s time to get the research and development into high gear on the direct use of solar energy before we use up all of the sources of stored solar energy like coal and oil. Petroleum producers are assuring us through TV ads that we have enough oil for decades to come. That could be almost one hundred years. What, me worry?

Peter Ross