Thursday, July 12, 2012

What does 'sustainable' really mean?

Enbridge has provided an interesting response to Christy Clark's concerns over the Enbridge pipeline.

“We have a struggle here in B.C. and we know that,” said Janet Holder, the Enbridge executive vice-president in charge of Gateway. She said hearings this week in Prince George “did not take on any different focus because of what was released by the NTSB. People in B.C. still are very concerned and we will continue to try to find ways to help them understand that we can build this pipeline in a very safe, reliable and, I think importantly, sustainable way.”
Everything nowadays seems to be "sustainable", it's quickly turning into the number one P.R. catch phrase for garnering public support. Everyone wants to be sustainable, but I'm curious exactly how a pipeline, built out of non-renewable resources whose purpose is to transport non-renewable resources for export is "sustainable". What's sustainable about it or the way it's being built?

A better question to me is, what does sustainable actually mean? To me it means something with an indefinite lifespan. A "sustainable" society is a society which can sustain itself. Not just for 5 or 10 years, but indefinitely.

I find with all of this talk about sustainable development in Canada, everyone seems to be overlooking exactly what is being sustained? A pipeline to export non-renewable resources seems to sustain profit for enbridge, and sustain oil for China, but what in Canada will be sustained?

We already know that the "jobs" these projects provide will be sustained for temporary foreign workers, and we already know that these projects don't sustain the Canadian environment either. We also hear all the time how the oilsands are key for U.S. and Chinese energy security, but not Canadian energy security.

It seems to me Canada is concerned about the sustainability of everyone, except Canada. What do you think? Are the terms 'sustainability' and 'energy security' being abused? What do they mean for you? Please comment below.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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