Albert County: The spark that started a 170 year global economic renaissance?

There is a fascinating story in the Times & Transcript this weekend about Albert County and its role as the “birthplace of the petroleum industry”.  He is making his pitch and getting traction.  The Petroleum History Institute is “making a pilgrimage to what they consider the birth place of the industry” next week.   In 1846 an Albert County entrepreneur and innovator developed a method that turned Albertite into kerosene for lamp oil with a byproduct that was gasoline.  It replaced whale oil – the use of which had led to the near-extinction of whales.

Not mentioned in the article was the Albert County gas which powered the Moncton economy for a generation more than a 100 years ago.  In fact, I read one of the guys behind the oil and gas industry in Albert County packed up and went down to be part of the original U.S. oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania.

So it all tracks back to Albert County.  The spark that ushered in the petroleum age.  Cars, air travel, cheap electricity to drive global economic growth and prosperity.

Of course, the folks from the Petroleum History Institute may want to keep their heads down when they visit the place these days.  Oil and gas are not particularly appreciated words these days in the birthplace of petroleum.

I don’t know what I like most about this story.  Certainly, reading a positive story about petroleum these days is a miracle in itself.  My Twitter feed was filled with advertisements for the oil pipeline expansion announced last week but the word ‘oil’ was never mentioned.  The pipeline, you see, is going to get “our resources to market”.   I guess we will pump 2x4s or soybeans through that new pipe.

Of course it’s hard to be too critical of politicians.  Words these days can be both very cheap or very expensive.  Anyone that disagrees with someone else is a Nazi or a racist or a bigot – words that get tossed around with ease.

I guess the PMs marketing gurus think that people with read the word ‘resources’ and think happy thoughts.

I guess my real point is a recurring theme on these pages.  The loss of civilized debate.  There was a time when people advocating for rigorous plans to address climate change would focus on trying to convince those on the fence of the merits of the effort.  Now, anyone raising a question is an idiot.

Look at the offshore oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.  I was over there last week and I asked people in the hotel, in the coffee shop and the taxi  what they thought of the industry – overwhelming support, even excitement about the possibility of a big expansion of the industry. Try that here. Now before you retort that fracking has received a frosty reception in Newfoundland as well, I will preempt you by saying this is exactly my point.

When it comes to the biggest policy issues of our time: climate change, immigration, mining, oil and gas development, globalization, economic fairness, the fiscal sustainability of public services, whatever – we need to get Don Draper, et. al. in the room.  We need to get back to civilized debate, the back and forth that is needed in democracies.

People that are opposed to you are not the enemy.  This is not the grand arena (note the reference Serenity geeks), this isn’t a struggle of good versus evil.

If you ever meet a real Nazi, you will know and you will regret having called lesser people by that name.

I’m up for the debate.  I think we will need oil and gas until at least mid-Century and I think Canada should supply its share of global markets.  I think if you have your own minerals and oil/gas resources, and you can develop them safely – relative to global best practices, you should.  Importing them doesn’t help the planet.

I also think we need a robust response to climate change.  We should use some of the economic dividend from ‘resource’ development to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, and, despite the maligning of Sheer last week, we should join with other countries to link the global effort to reduce carbon emissions to international trade and investment flows.  Why not?   I realize it will be tricky but I wouldn’t rule it out.  Just boycotting oil and gas to feel good is not the solution.  A coordinated plan is.

I think we need a whole lot more immigrants.  I realize there are those that are uncomfortable.  They, at least mostly, are not the enemy.  They need to be part of a healthy debate with facts.

I could be wrong.  Maybe in the world today the best way to get things done is by alienating everyone that doesn’t think like you do.  Maybe making enemies and drawing the line “you are either with me or against me” is the new norm.

It’s not good in a democracy.  That attitude is better aligned with fascism.

 

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1 Response to Albert County: The spark that started a 170 year global economic renaissance?

  1. David Whelbourn says:

    Debate and discussion are vital to explore ideas and lead to new innovations.
    Like you I see narrow minded views taking up the cudgel as a means to debate single issues.
    For Example: I am surprised when Canadians bemoan the UK leaving the EU, when I talk with them it is clear they do not understand the nature of the EU and it’s differences from a Free Trade Area. Their main source of news on the EU / BREXIT journey, is the CBC, and they are as bias as the BBC.

    I am an immigrant, therefore I recognise the need for immigrants in Canada and New Brunswick. We have to make use of the current mechanisms to ensure that immigrants are beneficial to our province.

    I agree Oil and Gas will be around for a long time so we should take every opportunity to realize our resource assets.

    Keep up the work of trying to open eyes.

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