Letters to the editor – January 23, 2020

Not all climate-change advocates are extremists

Re: Smith warns of pressure by environmentalists (WP, Jan. 9).

It is ironic that radio talk show host (and former Wildrose Party leader) Danielle Smith warns of “extremist” propaganda while appearing to use the same type of propaganda, classing all environmentalists in one extreme category.

Not everyone concerned about the climate and environmental losses we are suffering and will suffer is an extremist; most people today realize that changes must be made.

A 45 percent reduction in human-caused greenhouse gas emissions does not mean the end of fossil fuels but the beginning of renewable energy, which will benefit all of us. To suggest that anyone concerned about these pressing issues must be a determined vegan or must not recognize the hard work and the positive changes being undertaken by farmers seems very extreme indeed.

The other outstanding irony in Smith’s presentation is the recommendation that farmers speak on behalf of high pressure, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. This process has been banned in a growing number of countries, states and provinces and has been proven by more than 1,500 peer-reviewed articles and studies to be a threat to human and animal life, to contaminate air, water and soil and to cause earthquakes that can be very damaging and whose continuing damage is impossible to predict.

These wells also flare, vent and leak methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, wasting this valuable resource.

Rural Albertans whose lives have been disrupted following fracking in their neighbourhoods know these effects all too well. Our governments and regulators, however, have done little to clarify what effect fracking is having on Alberta.

The Alberta Energy Regulator conducted a highly vaunted flow-back study four years ago that was meant to disclose what toxic gases might be emitted from fracked wells during the flow-back period following fracking. Despite promises of speedy disclosure of the results, the public has seen no results or conclusions of this study.

The suggestion that industry is being massively attacked by environmental agencies is laughable when compared to the determined and extremely well-funded efforts by the fossil fuel industry over more than 40 years to deny the effects of fossil fuel extraction and burning on our climate and environment.

These denials, along with fracking, have delayed the development of renewable resources.

Smith is correct that we currently depend on oil and gas for farming purposes; the pressure for increased fracking, however, is in aid of export of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), not local needs. When we export our natural resources, we are denying our descendants access to these resources in future, when there may be a truly safe and economical way of extracting and using them.

Farmers and ranchers can apply to be exempted from the carbon tax on farm fuels. Certainly, government must pay more attention to the financial needs of the farming community, and more public knowledge of the positive impacts of agriculture is an important goal.

We need to continue to approach these goals in a thoughtful way, while continuing to move, with the rest of society, toward more sustainable living.

Nielle Hawkwood,

Cochrane, Alta.

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