The Wisdom of Evolving

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Despite the BAPE (Quebec’s bureau of environmental hearings) report published in December, the oil

lobby continues to try to convince the population and the government to invest time and money in the infrastructures of an obsolete technology; this is true, not only for Quebec, but also in Canada and the rest of the world. Amongst other things, the Energy Board believes that the TransCanada Energy East pipeline is desirable (1). Instead of holding on to the past, why not immediately invest in the green technologies of the future?

This debate surrounding the TransCanada Energy East pipeline reminds me of a family story. During the 1950s, farmers harvested cereals with the help of two machines; the binder which left the sheaves in the field for a few days before passing it through a belt-driven stationary thresher to separate the grain from the straw. This, together with stooking, meant long and difficult work for the farmer.

In 1951, my father bought a reaper/thresher known as a  »combine ». It was new, revolutionary and very controversial in the rural mentality of the time. The village miller asserted loudly and clearly that the grain harvested with a  »combine  » was difficult to grind, that it got mouldy and made the animals sick. My father explained that the grain was the same quality as long as it was left to ripen on the stem for an additional 10 days to replace the ripening period in the sheaves. Because they were stuck in their old way of thinking, the miller and some of the farmers refused to understand!

Two years later, when my grandfather and my uncle needed to renew their equipment, my father suggested buying a combine, emphasizing the reduction of about 70% of the long, tedious and back- breaking work. However, the machinery salesman mounted an epic campaign of arm twisting in an effort to sell him an old stationary thresher.

The fossil fuel promoters wear the same blinkers as that salesman: they are holding on to technologies which are already outdated in an old paradigm in which energy comes from oil.
Our leaders should instead endorse the recommendations of the IPCC”s 5th Report: if humanity does not want to suffer catastrophic climate change, it must limit the global rise in temperature to a maximum of two degrees Celsius. Quebec, Canada and the world must head towards a post-carbon economy without delay. We must renounce oil.(2)

Just as in 1953, the new technology exists, but it is being vilified. My grandfather finally understood that he needed to let go of the old ways, even if that meant stepping out of his comfort zone for a while.

It is highly ironic that the fossil fuel lobby uses the social media of the 21st century in order to promote the obsolete technology of the 20th century!

Shall our leaders have the same wisdom as my grandfather? Will they know that now is the time to invest immediately in green energies?

Gérard Montpetit
La Présentation, QC
Member of CCCPEM (citizen’s committee for the protection of the environment of the Yamaska valley) January 15, 2015