Photo by Zack Embree/Greenpeace
Addiction is the enemy of freedom. Just look at how an addiction to oil has disrupted our climate and poisoned our politics.
Super-storms, floods, droughts and wildfires - it's only going to get worse as we pump more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, leading to a kind of weather on steroids that tears ecosystems apart.
There are only three things we can do in response to this threat: reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn to limit how bad it gets, build more resilient communities to try to adapt to those changes that can't be avoided, and suffer. The more we do of the first two, the less we'll do of the last.
Unfortunately, Canada's current policy appears to be trying to maximize suffering.
I recently got hold of some internal correspondence showing that the oil industry is balking at paying more than 25 cents per barrel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the tar sands. That token sum would only have reduced projected emissions growth by about 5 per cent, but even that was too much, and the whole thing has been put on hold.
Meanwhile, our elected representatives - at the oil industry's request - have gutted our environmental laws. All so they can fast-track new tar sands mines and pipelines.
The feds have closed labs and libraries so there won't be any inconvenient scientific findings.
And they have tried to chill dissent by labelling as "radicals" anyone who dares express concern about digging deeper holes, and putting oil in leaky pipelines or exploding trains.
Decentralized, democratically controlled energy systems that rely on free power from the sun, wind and waves, however, are threatening to those who have grown rich and powerful selling the buried sunlight contained in oil, coal or gas.
That's why oil companies and the Harper government have spent tens of millions of dollars on those omnipresent ad campaigns to tell us that we have no choice. It's time to break free.
Our scientists tell us we have the technology to affordably meet our energy needs without frying the planet. Think of it as history's greatest reno job, and we get to live in a beautiful home and still have awesome neighbours like polar bears and caribou when we're done.
Keith Stewart leads Greenpeace Canada's climate and energy campaign.