In an incendiary opinion piece, former fossil fuel executive and climate change denier Gywn Morgan uncouples the Fort McMurray wildfire from climate change.
“Tying any single extreme weather event to atmospheric CO2 concentrations simply isn’t historically or scientifically credible,” Morgan contends in a Globe and Mail opinion piece published earlier this week.
Morgan's comments seek to undermine those made by the premiers of British Columbia and Ontario, linking climate change to the devastating fire.
What’s particularly galling about Morgan’s bizarre rant, though, is his nerve in attacking other countries on their human rights records.
He writes: “Here’s a note to those who celebrated the Fort Mac disaster as divine environmental justice: Shutting down the Canadian oil sands altogether would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by a minuscule one-tenth of a per cent, only to be replaced by oil from countries whose environmental and human-rights records are vastly inferior to Canada’s.”
Without the least sense of irony, the former founder and CEO of Encana writes that he’ll “take the values contained in their made-in-Canada oil over that Middle Eastern and North African stuff any day.”
First of all, I doubt many people “celebrated” the fires in any way.
Most people felt nothing but compassion and heartache for the Northern Alberta’s city residents who were forced to vacate their homes.
Encana's environmental record nothing to boast about
And when it comes to the subject of environmental and human rights records, Morgan doesn’t seem to have have a lot to boast about.
“‘As a young engineer in 1975,’” Morgan wrote in a Vancouver Sun column. ‘“I directed the fracking of the very first well drilled by the company that eventually grew to become Encana Corporation. Since then, Encana has safely fractured tens of thousands of wells on its way to becoming North America’s largest natural gas producer.”’
Filmmaker Nadja Drost's 2005 film entitled 'Between Midnight and the Rooster’s Crow,' followed Encana’s development of a heavy crude oil pipeline from the Amazon in Ecuador to the Pacific coast. Drost’s film included interviews with farmers, Indigenous community representatives, environmental activists and others, who related tales of forced relocation, imprisonment and intimidation, “including shootings and beatings by the Ecuadorian police and army who protected Encana’s pipeline.”
The pipeline project also came under fire from a tropical ecologist, Robert Goodland, who authored a document called the Goodland report that outlined major threats to biodiversity and indigenous peoples in Ecuador.
Canada's dominance as fossil fuel empire fading
Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk noted that the pipeline ended in “allegations of corruption, kidnappings, restless natives and environmental degradation,” and says that ultimately Morgan sold the whole venture to a consortium of Chinese energy companies including Petro China for $1.4-billion.
Back home, Encana’s fracking in B.C. “turned quiet rural roads into industrial zones clogged with hundreds of fracking trucks. Farmers and ranchers complained about the heavy traffic, sour gas leaks, air pollution, property devaluation, livestock deaths and the industrialization of rural life,” Nikiforuk wrote.
In his Globe piece, Morgan expresses the sentiment that his “vote goes to the made-in-Canada oil produced by those resilient Canadians who have been forced to endure job loses, destructive wildfires and environmental extremist schadenfreude as they proudly anchor a crucial economic cornerstone of our country.”
Morgan can defend the tar sands all he wants. Canada’s moment and opportunity is to turn rapidly towards renewable energies now, to become a leader at the cusp of fighting climate change through sensible governmental policy.
He's clearly yesterday’s man.