A litre of gas for a litre of milk

Of peak oil and suburban decline

On Friday the price of crude oil increased by 8%. That hasn’t happened before. A barrel of the stuff hit $139 US, also previously unknown. The stock exchange in New York tumbled more than 300 points, as the price of a gallon of gas hit $4 nation-wide.

A key analyst at Morgan Stanley forecast $150 oil by this time next month. As that was being digested in the market, the US dollar fell further, as it now looks certain the deadly combination of rising unemployment and inflating energy costs will further crush economic growth.

Concurrently, GM executives were telling autoworker boss Buzz Hargrove he was delusional if he thought the company was about to reverse a decision to shutter the Oshawa truck plant. More than 2,600 people will be losing their jobs, and another 10,000 or so in related companies, a year from now. GM executives have made it clear that they believe higher gas prices are “permanent.” That means this car slump is not cyclical, but structural. The days of the beastly SUV and bitchin’ pick-up are over.

Ditto for the burbs. The minivan-dominated, car-centric, single-family, consumptive suburbs in the distant commutersheds seemed destined to decline over time.

At an urban conference outside Toronto on Friday, which brought together everyone from Hazel McCallion to Jack Layton, the keynote speaker put it simply: No longer can we afford to have communities where it takes a litre of gas to get a litre of milk. Indeed. Big changes coming. Wise suburbanites won’t wait for them.

If the world’s fuel can rise by eleven dollars in a day, the equity in homes on Butternut Circle – where there’s no public transit and no stores within walking distance – can drop by 1% a week.

Meanwhile, there’s a very unhealthy transference of wealth taking place. From the oil-consuming countries to the oil-producing ones. From Ontario and Quebec to Alberta. From consumers to Bay Street, where the TSX soared again on energy stocks. From the bottom to the top.

And while this happens – structural change for GM, for the United States, for autoworkers and all the people in the suburbs – the world stares at peak oil. Quite likely, the moment when our thirst for oil would be satisfied by new discoveries, is now in the rear-view mirror. Some people say that will mean $200 oil soon, maybe $1,000 oil in ten years.

If you think governments have failed to prepare, that our car dependency and suburban sprawl, wasteful habits and disappearing jobs are symbols of that failure, then we think as one.

55 comments ↓

#1 MARK on 06.07.08 at 11:55 am

Oil per barrel at approximately $140.
General food price increases.
Manufacturing jobs lost or soon to be.
Airlines Industry facing huge layoffs.
Increasing property taxes.
Our American neighbours in a deep economic downward spiral.
Increasing tution costs for both Colleges and Universities.
A general trend of moving away from manufacturing to a less economically-benifitting service industry.
Large percentages of people who have to travel via vehicle to and from work.
Credit debt at ridiculously high levels.
And to boot, Global warming which will bring a new wave off economical issues.

…and a lot more, too!…

The simple fact is: The pending energy crisis and the whole global warming theme will shape the future of Canada more than anything else before it! The fact that we live beyond our means and purchase things we probably shouldn’t, only aides the process.

#2 Anonymous on 06.07.08 at 12:18 pm

There’s no shortages at the pumps. So relax. It’s just another bubble forming… like housing was.

Anybody playing this oil bubble? Are you hedging yourself from the short-term pain that we are about to experience?

If you are playing energy at these levels, it’s ok to take a little profit. Unlike a house, you can take SOME profits along the way to $150. Nobody EVER got hurt taking a profit.

#3 Anonymous on 06.07.08 at 12:24 pm

Peak oil? Is that the same thing as Peak Land? How did that turn out?

Yes, we have limited amounts of fresh water, oil, natural gas, coal, land. But it doesn’t justify $11 jumps in a single day.

STOP DRINKING THE KOOLAID PEOPLE. You can make money off bubbles, but never forget that it’s all bullshit in the end.

#4 Lawrence on 06.07.08 at 12:32 pm

Garth;

The spike in oil prices, while causing dancing in the streets in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon, puts even more pressure on central Canada to transform their economies.

Alberta has also over built its new housing stock and people feeling enough pain out east are going pull up roots for greener pastures and lower house prices than 12 – 18 months ago (and lower interest rates). The housing over supply will not last for ever but if oil continues to rise there will be a massive shortage or workers and there is an opportunity for people to make a move out west and get into housing at a lower cost than before.

But these are also scary times and local gains cannot offset global consequences and implications. Oil people that I talk to are uncomfortable with the unknown. The price of energy is rising too fast. The cause of this rise is not entirely clear with steady supply and the prospect of demand abating with higher prices and forced efficiencies.

All things being considered, given all of the alternatives, I favor a house as investment. House prices do not follow the DOW or the TSX or the price of oil. They follow local market conditions of supply and demand. Securing a house clear title is the biggest indicator of a secure retirement. I know. I operate subsidized housing for low income seniors. 99 percent have not owned a home in the years before their retirement. It is a vulnerable place to be without the security of home ownership.

#5 Adam on 06.07.08 at 1:40 pm

I think this 8% spike has finally convinced most people that the high oil prices is not based on fundamentals at all. It’s all speculation. I find it hard to believe that the demand for oil has kept up with it’s price. Meanwhile production is on the rise. An analyst says the price will rise and the reaction is an 8% jump. It’s irational exurberance all over again. Buy some pets.com stock or you’ll regret it.

#6 Future Expatriate on 06.07.08 at 1:42 pm

Smart money fled the stock market and oil prices skyrocketed on the same day that Hillary Clinton conceeded. Smart money obviously sees an inevitable McCain win in November, and 4 more years at least of miserably failing Bush policies and further and expanded Mideast war skyrocketing oil prices.

A message a very clueless ObamaNation will no doubt miss.

Kiss any potential of any sort of economic recovery good-bye. For at least a half a century. If the senile fool doesn’t get the US nuked with everything Russia and China has FIRST over nuking Iran.

#7 tulip-mania on 06.07.08 at 2:22 pm

Lawrence:
“It is a vulnerable place to be without the security of home ownership.”

Yes, the fear factor, but I don’t think most of us bears are saying buying your own home is a bad idea, we think, it’s a bad idea to buy now.
Being in debt for 40 years for a depreciating asset is a vulnerable place to be as well.
The damage left in the wake of the last real estate crashes in Canada was mitigated by lowering interest rates and the eventual lowering unemployment.
As for example, since the crash of the early 80’s interest rates have come down approx 1500 basis points.
At full employment, and with real interest rates below zero, where are you going to find room for another 1500bps cut to prop up the bubble, 45, 50, 75 year mortgage with nothing down?
What is priced in the market is low unemployment, low interest rates, and a booming economy in perpetuity, which is an unsustainable anomaly-an illusion created by Greenspan, and other central bankers.
The price of the illusion: STAGFLATION
The argument for buying now just doesn’t pass the rational or the math test.

TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK

#8 patriotz on 06.07.08 at 2:37 pm

There’s no shortages at the pumps. So relax. It’s just another bubble forming… like housing was.

Yes but nobody has to buy a house, ever, but we have to buy oil, and products made with oil, every day.

Big difference, and that’s why the effect of high oil prices is so far-reaching.

#9 Republic of Western Canada on 06.07.08 at 2:59 pm

Um, Lawrence…

Calgary *is* Central Canada now. Regardless of how much that rankles Marc Lalonde.

The mafia-based eastern-Canada political-industrial system down there in Ontario never lifted a finger to help the West over the last century. Now they can’t collectively help themselves either, because they don’t have the collective will or the ability anymore. Those easterners in southern Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Toronto, now are as irrelevant as a crumbling Detroit suburb where all the whites have fled.

(That is still true despite some political hack in federal parliament recently granting Imperial Oil license to develop Kearl Lake oil sands a day after the courts blocked their water-usage license.)

Secondly, regardless how bad things get for the Ontario regional economy or housing needs for residents of any age, people must not try to pull up roots and move to Alberta just because of an oversupply of housing in Edmonton for example. Prices will fall from a half-million dollars for a shoebox with a 16-foot wide basement (I’ve measured them), to a quarter-million. But if they only get offers below that price, the owners & developers will probably just find a different way of disposing of the property.

Remember the chapter in the classic novel ‘Grapes of Wrath’ – where harvested oranges were sprayed with benzene to make them inedible and keep prices up for the rest, despite people starving during the ‘Great Depression’ (soon to be repeated).

Finally, ‘clear title’ to a residence whether you’re retired or not is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a liability like anything else that has to be maintained and has costs. The entire package of your retirement account, and your health, and the local crime rate, and condition of your residence, and condition of shoes and car and clothing etc has to be looked at.

For example, in retirement I think it would be much better to lease a very small newer place or a well-built trailer and have a small garden in a quiet town within walking distance of a food store, based on a modest pension and good retirement account, than to have a big old house needing all sorts of repairs but that you own outright and which is far away from a grocery store, has a big tax bill, and for which you need your paid-off big old gas-guzzler (that can hardly drive anymore because of vision problems) just to get anywhere. Then, try to maintain the monster on your government pension.

The mirage of ‘home ownership’ has been exploited to death by RE agents. It will be the cause of people paying far too much in interest to banks for too long. That money will be lost for use by the ‘owner’ in retirement, and the house will be exhausted and worn out by the time it’s paid off.

#10 Republic of Western Canada on 06.07.08 at 3:34 pm

Future Expatriate,

It’s not so much that oil has gone up, it’s that the US dollar has gone down. The price of oil is relatively high mostly because the U.S. dollar is not worth the paper it’s printed on any more.

That’s because of massive U.S. debt, useless offshore wars, and a lousy consumption-based, paper-shuffling economy. Oil, food, commodities like cement/steel/copper etc are worth much more now than the U.S. economy is, so the price of all those in USD is exploding. Same thing with gold price increases. Gold has skyrocketed too, even though the industrial demand for it has not increased anywhere near as much as energy or cement or steel has.

The price increase of oil (USD crash) also contributes to the outrageous inflation of Alberta housing.

Inflation in terms of USD has as much to blame for the current oil price explosions as any speculation-conspiracy. That is crystal-clear and well-known to citizens in the middle-eastern oil producing countries which still force their currency to be pegged to the dollar for political reasons.

Unfortunately too much of the world still uses the USD for oil-payments. It’s the only thing still holding it up as high as it still is. Otherwise it would be half as much as it is now. That’s also making real oil price increases look much worse (higher) than they really are. To see that, compare the price of oil in gold 5 years ago to the price of oil in gold today. That increase is much less than just looking at the U.S. dollar price increase of oil.

It’s time to cut the U.S. bastards loose by only trading oil in hard currencies like the Euro, before the USD crash ruins all of us.

#11 Terry on 06.07.08 at 3:53 pm

Is stagflation becoming a reality as all the elements that became the economic downturn of the 1970’s is falling into place. High energy cost’s is driving up inflation as every major element of our economy is affected by high oil prices. As political tensions in the middle east rise only one spark like Iran could send the world price of oil even higher on just the fear of another outbreak of war in the middle east. A falling US dollar that could collapse as the European Union i anterest rates rise to the 4.0% range and are expected to rise further as American rates sit at a low 2.0% as the fed ignores inflation forecasts. We have seen the rise in the money supply as the US stimulates the economy and pumps more money into banks struggling with the after effects of a housing crisis not seen since the 1930’s as 100’s of billion’s of dollars are lost not only in the US but also in the UK.

Food prices rise and shortages are seen in third world countries as stupid government policies like those of Canada and the US, as a policy of forced ethanol production pushes up the price of food and fertilizer. It seems we now think that it is more important to feed our cars before we feed people as food shortages will see millions die of starvation in the next few years. Canada now even imports corn from the US to feed the ethanol plants.

If oil prices remain at levels over $130.00 a barrel for the next year I think the last thing most people in Canada will worry about is the value of there house. George Bush totally insane policies of the last seven years along with those of the US fed may see us fall into a recession or worse a depression that could last well into 2020.

I can only hope that somehow we avoid what can be a painful future and start to think about not wasting our resources on a wasteful lifestyle that has finally caught up to us. Maybe we have to look at a fuel ration system that would force people to change there choice in transportation. Sounds radical, think what we may be facing in ten years as demand for oil grows. I would also think that many people who chose to buy homes much bigger than there needs require may be forced to sell as rising costs of heating oil, natural gas and electricity makes heating there homes in a cold climate like Canada to expensive. Imagine your heating costs to be higher than your mortgage payments.

#12 Charles on 06.07.08 at 4:08 pm

Great web site Garth. There is a lot of excellent information on it. My thanks to you and all of your posters.

I fully agree with you that Canada has some big time economic challenges facing it.

If possible, I would like to get your thoughts on the following matter.

The following sentence is taken from Statistic Canada’s Labour Force Survey which was released yesterday.

“In May, the average hourly wage was 4.8% higher than a year earlier, and well above the most recent increase of 1.7% in consumer prices.”

When I read this, I am led to believe that the average Canadian’s wages are rising significantly faster than their cost of living is.

My wages are not keeping up to the increases in my cost of living, and almost everyone who I have discussed this subject with are saying the same thing, that the increases they are getting in their wages are not keeping up to the increases in their cost of living.

As an M.P. you get to speak to a lot of people about a lot of different topics. Could you please tell me if you think Statistic Canada’s assessment of this situation is accurate.

P.S. When I am referring to the cost of living, I am talking about only the basics in life, and not the costs of any luxuries.

#13 jrochest on 06.07.08 at 5:05 pm

Nobody EVER got hurt taking a profit.

Gee, where have I heard that before?

#14 brazer on 06.07.08 at 5:22 pm

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/06/world-oil/roberts-text

Spend 5 minutes and read this article in National Geographic…Good overview of the “Oil Crisis”.

#15 JC on 06.07.08 at 6:38 pm

Garth, while I agree the TEMPORARY spike in oil will add fuel to the bonfire of the Real Estate vanities, the oil price spike is only TEMPORARY. The climb in petrol’s price and the fall of the dollar are both brought about by banging the drum for war with Iran. The ongoing war in Iraq has also destroyed the dollar, consumed copious quantities of oil, and obstructed supply.

Your larger points are right, but to talk about $200 oil (if it happens) as anything other than an abberrent shock borders on hysterical. Alternative energy AND a restructuring of suburbistan will pre-empt $1000 dollar oil by a long shot.

#16 My_view on 06.07.08 at 8:16 pm

Dear residents of oil country.

Your province is being raped. It takes clean gas (natural gas) to make the dirty gas (tar sands). Nat gas is used to heat up water to extract the oil from the sands. That’s using tons of water, poor farmers. But then again, there are synthetic fertilizers which are great for the environment. All the pipe lines go all south to the USA.

So, how will Alberta look in the future?

#17 Sold Out of Cowtown on 06.07.08 at 9:57 pm

My_View,

I totally agree, the provincial pc government has sold out their sheeple, I mean people, and they get what they deserve.

Its a shame that we as a nation couldn’t nationalize the oil and gas industry like Norway. Before any cowpokes out there laugh about that idea, consider this Norway has a 400 billion dollar heritage fund, we have drunken Texans :(.

But then again, Canada is more of a business than a country right? So who cares…

#18 Terry on 06.07.08 at 11:01 pm

As I say all to often oil sands have no oil, thats why they are called tar sands. You take bituminous sands, use vast amounts of methane gas and water to extract the tar, ship it of to an upgrader site, clean out all the toxins including huge amounts of sulfur than mix in 1/2 a barrel of conventional crude to 1 barrel of tar. Net energy gain after you make a barrel of synthetic heavy conventional oil about 3-5%.

It not how Alberta will look in the future as the future in the tar sands is here now. Ask 500 dead ducks. I figure we can offer Ed Stelmach and friends water front property on one of the many huge holding ponds during there retirement years. Ah nothing like the smell of tar on a Saturday morning.

#19 David on 06.08.08 at 2:33 am

Sold Out you must realise that the government of Alberta said it had nothing to learn from socialist Norway several years ago. The Alberta Heritage Fund as it stands right now would fulfill about 6 months of government spending and this is factoring in oil at $130 plus a barrel.
During the Klein Revolution apparently their was much to learn from New Zealand and its Rogernomics. There also seemed to be so much to be learned from how Mississippi and Alabama administered social welfare reforms which Mr. Klein felt served as a great role model for Alberta.
It was only 6 months ago that Alberta made quite modest revisions in oil royalty structures amid great noise and protest.
Welcome to Alberta the land of rugged conformism and nanny state conservatism.

#20 Future Expatriate on 06.08.08 at 3:14 am

Republic of Western Canada said:

“It’s time to cut the U.S. bastards loose by only trading oil in hard currencies like the Euro, before the USD crash ruins all of us.”

AMEN! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said!

BUT keep a watchful defensive eye out for another SARS, anthrax in the prairies, mad cow in BC, and crazy kids being egged on by CIAl Qaeda in the US; all how the US Gov does business when Canada doesn’t want to “go along.”

#21 patriotz on 06.08.08 at 5:33 am

The mafia-based eastern-Canada political-industrial system down there in Ontario never lifted a finger to help the West over the last century.

That’s nonsense, the West received a lot of financial support from the East before oil was discovered after WWII. And I also might add, the natural resources in the West were purchased from the HBC by the Federal Government and given for free to the provinces. The natural resources in the Western US, which the Federal Government purchased from France or took from Mexico, are still in Federal hands.

#22 Dom-GTA on 06.08.08 at 7:10 am

http://www.canadianbusiness.com/my_money/investing/article.jsp?content=20060704_150040_5240

Great article aout a couple that managed to save 80% of their annual income and pay off their house in 3 years. A little bit of the antithesis of what we have seen.

Would be nice if we could all do the same.

BTW, I am still hearing of mulitple bids for million dollar plus homes in Oakville and people paying over $1 million just for a 100 by 150 lot.

Clearly some people still have more money than brains.

#23 snapshot on 06.08.08 at 10:55 am

My_view,

The high use of natural gas, water, etc., in the production of synthetic crude is only the tip of the iceberg. Add to that, things like lack of on-site upgrading (instead, pumping diluent everywhere to dissolve & transport bitumen) and the use of primitive thermocracking to produce low-grade product instead of various kinds of hydro/cat-cracking etc by many companies, and it starts to really appear short-sighted. That’s even if you just looked at it from an economic point of view.

But guess what? The level of exploitation would be just as bad if ownership was stolen and transferred to the foreigners of Ontario rather than the foreigners south of the 49th parallel, or anywhere else.

The dirtiness of the technology and lack of innovation would be worse, however. That is evidenced by those paragons of eastern oil interests which simply want to dissolve primitive extracted bitumen and ship the mix by pipeline to Sarnia, rather than upgrade it and refine it here.

At least, with multiple ownership groups, you have a diversity of technologies and approaches, some of which are better and more efficient than others.

#24 Sam on 06.08.08 at 11:44 am

Dom-GTA,

You are correct. I live in Oakville and seeing the same madness. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I am crazy and this may never end. Seems like it anyway..

What are your thoughts on Oakville region ? I eager to see the market balance :) What about the rest of GTA ? Still the same ?

#25 Sam on 06.08.08 at 11:47 am

Oh yes and for the ‘ U.S bastards’ .. .

AMEN from my side too. I hope those bastards get what they asked for.

#26 Dawn in Calgary on 06.08.08 at 1:37 pm

Clearly some people still have more money than brains.

HAHAHA. I’ve been saying that about Alberta for years. Or maybe it’s just jealousy that I’m not one of them. ;-)

#27 Peter coupland on 06.08.08 at 2:29 pm

OH, dear,you used the “p” word,Garth.

I knew that would get some comments!!

Peak oil is a reality folks,it’s the exponential growth curve

vs a finite resource,guess who always wins?

#28 Dom-GTA on 06.08.08 at 4:29 pm

Sam—Oakville according to some is the bubbliest area of the whole GTA…I live north of the city and am seeing prices start to stabalize, listings are on longer but no real price decreases as of yet. It seems as if sellers are still hoping this is a blip and that demand will still pick up.

If Oakville gets hit, I think it is still about 6-8 months away, we really need to see the listings sit without selling and then there will be a drop as some people will be motivated to sell and that will drop the floor…

Dawn, i think any sane person would be slightly envious..I mean we work hard and want to see a reward as well…It is almost like sports players or stars…these people that buy huge homes…we sit on the sideline and wonder how on earth they do it. Especially since I thought making $120K + was a decent living…clearly not that decent.

#29 David on 06.08.08 at 4:32 pm

Non conventional oil production in Alberta has more than its share of downsides and external costs. Excessive greenhouse gas emissions form production for starters makes it look like Canada is paying mere lip service to the Kyoto protocols. Digging up huge tracts of boreal forest the size of Florida does not sound to promising either, since those lands will never be reclaimable. The permanent destruction of large amounts of Western Canada’s fresh water system does not sound environmentally promising for that matter.

#30 Terry on 06.08.08 at 7:32 pm

David

Would be nice if more people felt that way. It seems like the only thing that many people see if the almighty dollar. Somewhere we have lost our respect for the quality of life and have become obsessed with the material things in life. Canadians as a whole have no idea what the oil sands is doing to the environment. Out of sight out of mind.

#31 Peter on 06.08.08 at 9:10 pm

hmm…sounds encouraging…I have a guy here say he will pay off his 600K home within 5 years….he and his wife will probably need to eat instant noodles, buys nothing from anywhere for 5 years to pay off his home…

#32 nonplused on 06.08.08 at 9:12 pm

Peak oil is not so bad! It’s not like one day they just turn off the taps. The curve is thought to be bell shaped, so the way down should look a lot like the way up did. It may be true that we are at the peak right now (probably are) but i think most people educated about the matter would agree that we are using way more oil than the environment can handle and much of it is wasted. (Think flights to Mexico and 3000 mile ceaser salads.)

The way the curve looks is a lot like a cocktail party. Imagine it starts at 8:00 PM with only a few early revelers. These are the early oil adapters like the US in the very early 1900’s. But as the evening wears on, more and more people arrive, the stereo goes louder and louder, and by midnight it’s a right happening party and people are starting to make fools out of themselves. That’s where we are right now. Next time you see a monster truck on a city street, think “yep, the party is really swinging!”. As the evening carries on from here, a few drunks are going to start staggering home here and there, the party will quite down, until finally around 4 AM there will only be 2 really drunk guys saying “I love ya man” over and over like it means something deep.

So enjoy the party! Buy that ski boat and go crazy!

Also, I think that oil is extremely cheap. Just becasue we had more than we knew what to do with at first and so we got it practically for free, doesn’t mean it isn’t still cheap.

Take that car in thedriveway for example. If you are like most people, you have a $400/month payment, $200/month for insurance, various taxes and maintenence on top, probably adding $100/month. So you got $700/month going out the door before fuel. So are you going to quit driving because fuel went from $200/month to $400? (Total cost going from $900 to $1100). I don’t think so. Me, I’m going to drive even more and celebrate how very little we actually pay for such a useful item. And if you live in Calgary you might be paying $800/month for parking as well, making the fuel cost practically irrelevant.

And by the way folks, Eastern Canada’s wealth didn’t go to Alberta, it went to China and Mexico. We didn’t get any new manufacturing plants that I noticed, which is what the wealth in the East was based on. So stop blaming us! Maybe if they still manufactured something in Ontario that the rest of the world would pay for they would have the money to buy the oil they need. But between the unions and the government there isn’t much chance of that going forward.

#33 TrueGritCalgary on 06.08.08 at 9:40 pm

nonplused, that has to be the most idiotic post I have ever read. “Me, I’m going to drive even more and celebrate how very little we actually pay for such a useful item.” Does logic elude you? You, are that “ignorant Albertan” that makes the rest of us sensible Albertans cringe with fear whenever you expose yourself to non Albertans. Nonpulsed? More like braindead.

#34 Neo on 06.08.08 at 9:50 pm

Stagflation unfortunately is around the corner.
While international speculation has impacted the
price of crude there is also a dimished supply side
that should not be ignored.
Worldly economics has taken hold.
We should not waste resources in lost industries.
Invest in Specialized production (that is not labor intensive or easily duplicated)and new technologies
to ensure growth.

Housing Supply continues to increase. Price contraction is immenent. While prices will decrease universally, the loses will be more pronounced
in suburbs as move to city continues.

#35 My_view on 06.08.08 at 10:27 pm

Nonplused,

What the hell are you drinking………If it costs you 2 grand a month to drive (Calgary), why even wake up?

#36 Republic of Western Canada on 06.08.08 at 11:18 pm

David,

Although your convictions are cute, and the localized damage to northern Alberta is real, the gross changes to the landscape need not be permanent. Nor does ‘Kyoto’ have any real relevance, other than for a bunch of federal hacks riding a popular wave of political-correctness for their own benefit.

Truth is, the environment can be reclaimed over decades if dedication and funding is ensured. Also, the same amount of precipitation will continue to fall on the swamps/muskeg of northern Alberta as always. That will not be affected by how much is pumped out of the rivers over the next quarter-century.

The trick is taking the time and attention to ‘put it back’ the way it was. And to ensure that global population growth is not only capped, but reversed. 8 Billion is 7 billion too many.

To be useful, you might want to campaign for a secure system to ensure reclamation, or to read research on why aqueous tailing-ponds exist and propose a dry-tailings system instead, or work towards mandatory global birth-control to stop local women from trying to get knocked up faster than their neighbors next door, or from all the mud–people from breeding like rabbits. That will go a long way to reversing global resource consumption, including the insane demand for detached housing.

If you looked at the entire system and all it’s inputs & outputs, and adjusted your convictions, you might be able to help contain and fix problems by steering the fundamental forces appropriately. Otherwise, you and others like you will only be seen as naive, politically-oriented loony-tunes howling at the moon.

#37 nonplused on 06.08.08 at 11:43 pm

TrueGritCalgary,

You are entitled to your opinion of course, but when you start calling people names and mistake it for intellectual discourse it is probably your own intellegence on which you end up making the greater statement.

My_view,

If you park downtown in Calgary, it runs pretty darn close to $2000 a month to drive, all in, thanks to our short sighted city counsel who decided parking downtown was environmentally bad but then decided building out the LRT was financially bad. Stunning, isn’t it? There is talk now that they want to cancel the long awaited West LRT leg because it looks expensive. Meanwhile the voters are making thier way down Bow Trail in a traffic jam that starts at Sarcee and idling away at $1.30 a litre.

But the city is making good progress on the new 4 lane ring road, building bridges that apear to be in the middle of nowhere and moving literally mountains of dirt to get it done. So, back to TrueGritCalgary, it’s not just me, but city counsel also thinks gas is stunningly cheap such that they should be building big roads and cancelling public transit programs. Maybe when they get the ring road done I’ll do a couple laps on it to celebrate the low cost of fuel. You can come and we’ll have a drag race to see who’s smarter!

#38 Republic of Western Canada on 06.08.08 at 11:46 pm

Garth,

I want to make sure that I haven’t ruffled your feathers by appearing to lambaste all politicians or political forces with the ‘same brush’.

In a tough and tricky situation a good dedicated politician, who is oriented towards solving a dangerous social situation like the real estate industry out of control, is worth his weight in gold.

Too often, those get mixed in with some short-sighted cretins like advocates of ‘gun-control’ (whatever that is supposed to be), or inventors of an NEP or the continuing invasion of Iraq, who do more harm than good.

The pending real-estate ‘industry’ collapse is real, just as the present price explosions and 40-year mortgages are harmful. Kudos in spreading the good word.

#39 Cam on 06.09.08 at 12:00 am

Check out Ozzie Jurocks comments on the Vancouver market:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20_kK2uZuos

#40 David on 06.09.08 at 12:25 am

Considering oil sands as minor localised damage sounds too optimistic. The oil sands development has been around North Eastern Alberta since 1967. As it stands in 2008 there has yet to be so much as one square acre of reclaimed or reclaimable land. That is a biological impossibility and were it otherwise so, some of these lands would have been reclaimed by now. Ramping up production schedules will no doubt raise further environmental concerns.
For all the development going on most of the production is entirely for the US export market. Canada is unique among OECD nations in having no national energy strategy or policy.
The tailings ponds will no doubt expand as accelerated development occurs many of them the size of a good number of Irish counties. These toxic ponds are quite visible from satellite photos already.
Canada has always been a willing participant in international treaties and international cooperation so why should Kyoto suddenly be so objectionable?

#41 vultur on 06.09.08 at 1:04 am

The trick is taking the time and attention to ‘put it back’ the way it was. And to ensure that global population growth is not only capped, but reversed. 8 Billion is 7 billion too many.
______________
Your racist remarks should be highlighted and condemned. Consider practicing a fair degree of introspective analysis before emitting such harmful negativity on a public forum. Those lives are just as valuable to the universe are yours and mine.

Treat them and such and exercise more compassion.

We are all one.

#42 Sam on 06.09.08 at 1:31 am

Dom GTA,

You are very right. I am seeing the listing in my neighborhood going up and sitting for long but prices are still gonna take a while. I know some of the house owners have been acting like ‘ pagans’. I guess soon they will learn their lesson.

#43 Islander on 06.09.08 at 3:15 am

…It’s a shame that we as a nation couldn’t nationalize the oil and gas industry like Norway. Before any cowpokes out there laugh about that idea, consider this Norway has a 400 billion dollar heritage fund, we have drunken Texans….

Ah, to be a fresh poli-sci grad.

#44 PBrasseur on 06.09.08 at 9:24 am

The notion that suburbia is in trouble because the price of gaz (or global warming) is ridiculous. At worse people will cut consumption by buying smaller cars and take the train more often.

But they will not change their way of life and most certainely not go back to bankrupt cities such as Montreal with their high taxes, criminals unions (and gangs) )and deficient infrastructures. That will not happen no matter what utopian greenees such as Garth Turner or Stéphane Dion say.

Anyway the current price of crude oil is bubbling right now and sure to come back eventually to more reasonnable values (see http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/06/news/economy/tully_oil_bust.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2008060610 )

#45 Dave in Calgary on 06.09.08 at 1:02 pm

Vultur,

How is it racist stating that the natural areas disturbed by oilsand production be brought back to their natural state, and that human population is too high.

The guy is “out there” with his opinions, but calling someone racist is a little much, no? Especially when there was not a single racist remark.

#46 Alex on 06.09.08 at 1:15 pm

Should Canada learn from our smart friends from far far south?

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1705518,00.html

#47 David on 06.09.08 at 1:37 pm

Those Norwegians and their Socialist ideas, it all sounds too disturbing. Apparently doing financial planning for the post oil future is unsound. Most of the surplus is invested offshore enterprises, in alternative energy development, retooling the domestic industrial base for exports and generally eschewing passive rentierism. There is no need to worry about any of those type of public policies coming to Alberta anytime soon.
At $25 a barrel cost of production none of the Alberta non conventional oil industry would even exist had it not been for extensive state sector subsidies and non existent royalties. Some people love to cling to free market shibboleths no matter how contrary the facts.

#48 Paid off in 3 on 06.09.08 at 3:52 pm

Regarding the link from Dom-GTA that refers to the couple that paid off their debt/home in 3 years, I’m not sure whether to be in awe of these people or think they’re totally insane. Taking on 3 jobs, sleeping 2-3 hours a night, and working 100 work weeks for 3 years is not something that any person who values their personal health should be doing. Nice to hear that they survived the experience but I hardly think this is a role model situation. IMHO, this could easily be used as an example of what NOT to do. Don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer in living within your means but like most things in life, moderation is the key.

#49 vultur on 06.09.08 at 3:53 pm

Dave in Cal- this is what bothered me. Tell me if I am wrong please:

To be useful, you might want to campaign for a secure system to ensure reclamation, or to read research on why aqueous tailing-ponds exist and propose a dry-tailings system instead, or work towards mandatory global birth-control to stop local women from trying to get knocked up faster than their neighbors next door, or from all the mud–people from breeding like rabbits. That will go a long way to reversing global resource consumption, including the insane demand for detached housing.

#50 David on 06.09.08 at 6:02 pm

Alberta and Canada are getting an increasing amount of grief over oil sands development internationally. The only people who seem oblivious to this are Stephen Harper and Ed Stelmack and a few others. Rona Ambrose had worse than a bad hair day trying to defend Canada’s environmental record not so long ago, so much so, that Stephen Harper quietly tanked her political career. As production gets ramped up over the next decade there is a huge potential for Canada to be branded an environmental rogue state with oil sands development.
The Oil sands extraction is labeled by some as the largest industrial project in human history and one would intuitively think some reflective judgments are in order given the permanent nature such environmental disturbance will cause. Ralph Klein true to his nature and intellect preferred unreflective judgment and virtually approved every proposal to cross his desk.
Alberta’s boreal forests are 40% wetlands which actually absorb atmospheric carbon. Scrape all that off, use copious amounts of fresh water and clean natural gas and sell the world’s dirtiest oil to a hungry USA market with little value added production. Under NAFTA’s proportionality clauses the Federal Government can not even insure energy security for Canadian citizens.
The best educated plants biologist in the world would barely be able to advise a government on how to reclaim natural wetlands to their former state. After 40 years of development the actual amount of dubious reclamation is effectively zero.
Every time the price of oil spikes the Canadian Loonie takes a big jump against the US Greenback. Canada sells more oil and winds up exporting fewer manufactured goods to the USA. Collectively as a nation Canada is paying a very high price for oil dependency both economically and environmentally.

#51 Dave in Calgary on 06.09.08 at 6:41 pm

Vultur,

I took “mud-people” as meaning third world (living in mud-huts) which is not too uncommon on three of the world’s continents.

But yeah, it is a little blunt to say the least, and I wouldn’t have said it. Nor can I tell you that you’re wrong. That being said, maybe I should just bow out of this one and stick to real estate (something that I am actually learning about on this site).

#52 Elvis on 06.09.08 at 8:10 pm

Dave in Calgary – I don’t think you read Republic of Western Canada’s post carefully enough to pick up on it’s extremely racist statements. His use of the term “mud- people” is language that is commonly used by those in the white supremist and neo-nazi movements to refer to people who aren’t “white” .

What he is doing using a real estate discussion forum to discuss eugenics and it’s positive environmental impacts is beyond me. I think it’s time for him to find another corner of the internet where he will find like minded fanatics.

#53 Dom-GTA-Paid off in 3 on 06.09.08 at 9:14 pm

Absolutely, just because I was impressed doesn’t mean I would do it the same way.

! thing I like is the short-term not increasing your standard of living until school loans, debts etc…are paid off…..

I am more the type…make more money not work longer hours…

Being a new renter after 10 years of ownership…I like the idea of a significant drop so I can buy more house for less…I also like not paying property taxes, maintenance, upgrades,etc…..

I also loved having my own home….for all the obvious reasons and none financial….

I think there needs to be a balance and that it was I am looking for.

#54 Dave in Calgary on 06.10.08 at 12:55 am

I guess you learn something new every day… I wasn’t aware of the term and I’m not really in the loop when it comes to neo-nazi or white power lingo.

#55 John on 06.18.08 at 4:27 pm

Anyone buying Gold or Silver? In terms of silver gas prices are going down.