She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie…propane*
In the disfigured beast that is Canada, with its once-enticing regional disparity no longer a source of charm but more an aggravated series of enflamed carbuncles, it seems to take something extraordinary to cause regions to reach out to each other and offer support. Of course, some distant bonds are natural and deep, like Newfoundland and Fort McMurray, or Toronto and…well anyway some regions have longstanding alliances and mutual interests, but those are often drowned out by regional interests and philosophies.
When the chips are down though, it warms the heart to see genuine concern for the well-being of regions when it really matters. Just this past week, a company from Alberta – a province facing a separatist uprising within its borders – reached out to help the people of Quebec, who wear separatist fantasies like a comfortable pair of sneakers. Quebec is running short of propane due to a strike by rail workers, and even though the strike has been settled the propane market is dangerously low.
Pembina Pipeline took the high road, sending a shipment of 105 rail cars loaded with propane in a “spirit of unity to secure a safe, reliable and long-term supply of energy from each other, rather than from foreign countries who do not share Canadian values” an FP article noted.
Pembina took the high road, but I won’t, because I’m not that kind of person, and because it is worth emphasizing (because the mainstream media will choose not to) the consequences of Quebec running out of a fossil fuel for which there is no replacement.
Now, this isn’t a dig at anyone. There is no malevolence intended here, no stick in the eye to any climate change warriors. What this story is about is the stark reality of what hydrocarbons mean for our daily lives. It is easy to take them for granted and even to scoff at/ridicule them as being “dirty”. Yet when faced with the possibility of living without them, and I don’t mean all fossil fuels, I mean living without a single relatively small component of the FF family, the general population may start to be able to see beyond the apocalyptic climate change messages scrawled on cardboard and thrust into the air and the media at climate marches around the world.
Maybe when the average citizen that, in normal circumstances, neither knows nor cares at all about propane is faced with the consequences of living without it, maybe then will said citizen be able to see through the fog of fear and disinformation and realize that hey, propane comes in pretty handy when winter rolls around. And like many things in life that are reliable and faithful and operate silently and without fuss in the background, we take it for granted.
Nothing is more taken for granted than hydrocarbons. Even propane, a relatively unknown commodity, heats 1 percent of Canadian households, about 140,000 of them. In the US, 5.7 million households are kept warm by propane. Thousands of farmers rely on propane to dry their grain in the fall to prevent it from spoiling in the bins.
And propane usage pales in comparison to natural gas usage. A whopping 48 percent of American households, some 60 million of them, rely on natural gas for heat. When it comes to keeping us from freezing to death, renewables are not a factor in any way shape or form, and they never will be – when heat is needed the most is when the sun sets (or barely shines in winter) and the thermometer falls.
It is also worth noting the stakes involved here. Almost every Canadian city, and most in the US, would be uninhabitable without natural gas and derivatives like propane. There is simply no way to live in those climates unless we all switch to burning wood, and three guesses as to what that would do the environment – not just the air, but the tree population.
There are two ways for people to understand these simple facts. One is that people that care about energy truth will share statistics about a fuel that is so boring and stable and omnipresent that it is completely ignored, and hope that the public is gradually educated. The other is to see regions run out of the stuff at crucial times, and trust me, no one wants to see that. But we all need to realize how precarious life is without some very basic, very boring fossil fuels.
*Apologies to Eric Clapton for bastardizing his classic “Cocaine” but come on, it was too perfect.
Think we can ever live without fossil fuels? Pick up “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” and learn what the answer really looks like. Hint: sensationalistic media does more harm than good! Available at Amazon.ca, Indigo.ca, or Amazon.com.
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