News and Notes From Canada

I’ve just returned from a quick trip to British Columbia (specifically to the ski town of Whistler, to which one can only properly say “wow”), and a couple of things from western Canada caught my eye. The first is this blog post about the use of urinalysis for construction job applicants in Alberta, where the long-standing oil rush is headier than ever. (I should note, however, that I read an article somewhere in the past few days — can’t remember where, or I’d link to it — about how the oil ministry is scared to death that Alberta will spend billions to extract oil sands only to find that, lo and behold, the Middle East isn’t running out of easy oil after all. Btw, in New Jersey the other day, I saw that gas has fallen back below $2/gal.) Also of interest is this article about the rash of logging deaths in British Columbia, apparently due to changing economics in the industry. In Freakonomics, we cite the fact that timber cutting is the most dangerous legitimate job in the U.S. — although we cite that fact in service of the point that selling crack cocaine on a street corner is a far, far more dangerous occupation.

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  1. econopete says:

    Regardless of whether or not we’re running out of oil, it would be foolhardy from a foreign policy standpoint for the U.S. to keep relying on the Middle East for oil. Do we really want to be dependent on a region where the inhabitants are hostile to us and our ideals?

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  2. econopete says:

    Regardless of whether or not we’re running out of oil, it would be foolhardy from a foreign policy standpoint for the U.S. to keep relying on the Middle East for oil. Do we really want to be dependent on a region where the inhabitants are hostile to us and our ideals?

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  3. Zak says:

    there is little dobut that regardless of the amount or relative price of middle eastern oil, our continued reliance upon this supply will be our downfall.

    The development of alternative fuel sources and consumption reduction is great, but it will not complete the job. We are junkies for cheap oil; it feeds the monster. Until we can “rehab” ourselves from this vice, we will remain enslaved by it.

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  4. Zak says:

    there is little dobut that regardless of the amount or relative price of middle eastern oil, our continued reliance upon this supply will be our downfall.

    The development of alternative fuel sources and consumption reduction is great, but it will not complete the job. We are junkies for cheap oil; it feeds the monster. Until we can “rehab” ourselves from this vice, we will remain enslaved by it.

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  5. asparagus says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but it is oil companies and their shareholders that really fear lower prices, since they are the ones spending billions. The government just doesn’t want to lose the royalty revenue.

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  6. asparagus says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but it is oil companies and their shareholders that really fear lower prices, since they are the ones spending billions. The government just doesn’t want to lose the royalty revenue.

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  7. energy man says:

    It would be interesting to run some numbers here. The “popular” notion is “oil” is bad and therefore we must “break the addiction”. But oil companies are making record profits. Some say we have “no alternative”. This is essentially true! Fossil fuels (oil & natural gas) are currently the cheapest, cleanest, safest, & most abundant energy source the world has to offer. It is a bit like saying “We are running out of water, therefore let’s hold back our drinking and find a substitute.” There may yet be a scientific breakthrough (room temperature fusion, etc.), but we’d better wake up – irrational demonization of the energy infrastructure has the potential to do more harm than good. Every time the US gov. have tried to “reform” the energy industry – the unintended consquences have resulted in huge price spikes.
    As for the oil sands in Alberta, I can assure you they are real. The median price point to support the extraction of the oil from the oil sands is only around $25 to $28 per barrel.
    However, as recently as 1998 the price was at $10, so one can understand why they are nervous.

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  8. energy man says:

    It would be interesting to run some numbers here. The “popular” notion is “oil” is bad and therefore we must “break the addiction”. But oil companies are making record profits. Some say we have “no alternative”. This is essentially true! Fossil fuels (oil & natural gas) are currently the cheapest, cleanest, safest, & most abundant energy source the world has to offer. It is a bit like saying “We are running out of water, therefore let’s hold back our drinking and find a substitute.” There may yet be a scientific breakthrough (room temperature fusion, etc.), but we’d better wake up – irrational demonization of the energy infrastructure has the potential to do more harm than good. Every time the US gov. have tried to “reform” the energy industry – the unintended consquences have resulted in huge price spikes.
    As for the oil sands in Alberta, I can assure you they are real. The median price point to support the extraction of the oil from the oil sands is only around $25 to $28 per barrel.
    However, as recently as 1998 the price was at $10, so one can understand why they are nervous.

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