Extreme positions on a number of issues caused Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Greenpeace, to part ways with that organization several years ago.
For example, Moore does not believe mankind is the cause of global warming.
He believes the forests are a renewable resource, and thus created the Sustainable Forest Committee several years ago.
And he doesn’t think the people of the world will suddenly be able to stop using oil.
“Eighty-five per cent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels, and oil is the most important of those. There is no substitute for it for most transportation,” he said.
He also believes the Enbridge pipeline is a good idea, which was the topic of the talk he shared with UNBC students.
In an interview previous to his talk, Moore said he takes a more logical and science-based approach to environmentalism.
He said there are several important words to appropriately describe an environmental approach to energy. For example, it should be clean, meaning no pollution should be produced.
When you speak of renewable, it should be self-replenishing, like forests.
Sustainable, he added, along with clean, are the most important factors and includes energy like hydroelectric and nuclear power.
However ‘green’ in itself has no definable meaning.
“It’s the least useful word. There is actually no definition. To greens it means renewable,” he said.
Greenpeace has taken a position against bio-mass energy which makes little sense to Moore, who said wood is the most important renewable resource in the world.
“We should use wood for energy as long as it’s sustainable,” he said.
He added that when you replant the trees you harvest, the new growth absorbs carbon, making the process carbon-neutral.
However, none of those energy sources replace the need for oil, so he said the questions to be asked regarding Enbridge, and the Alberta oil sands, is are they producing and transporting the oil in a legitimate and acceptable way?
Moore said he’s visited the oil sands and toured the facilities, witnessing the process from the beginning to reclamation.
Greenpeace, on the other hand, likes to show photos of the natural boreal forest and how it looks after construction of a facility begins.
“But that is a temporary situation,” he said. “They put the sand back with almost all the oil removed, then re-contour the land with machines, with some companies working with Ducks Unlimited to re-vegetate it. It’s world-class reclamation work and it’s effective. Maybe we’ll even get timber off it one day.”
He said it’s misinformation to show only the beginning of the process.
“In the oil sands the disturbance is about 10 to 15 years, then it’s re-vegetated. As an environmentalist I think that’s good enough for me.”
He added that a filling station will spill 100 gallons of diesel fuel then have to spend $1 million to have the fuel taken out of the dirt.
“They’re taking the world’s largest oil-soaked piece of real estate and cleaning it,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re doing us a favour cleaning the sand, but surely the sand isn’t worse for it.”
He said transporting the oil via pipelines is, likewise, a non-issue.
“There is no safer way to transport oil than pipeline. There are 100,000 km of pipeline now in North America and there have been no disasters. It’s the safest, best way to move oil. It’s buried the whole way from what I understand.
“I don’t think it makes any sense to say stop using oil. The people I like to work with in the oil and gas sector are those who say we need to find ways to reduce the reliance,” he said.
However he doesn’t foresee the transition from oil to another energy source as something that will happen overnight.
Since that means oil has to be removed from the ground, the common-sense approach is to do it properly, then transport it safely.