There Are Limits To Conservation

The following bulletin “There Are Limits to Conservation” was written by B.C. environmentalist Tim Murray.

Dan Murray
Immigration Watch


Like their counterparts elsewhere, neither the BC Liberals nor the NDP
will question the population growth which drives energy consumption

Dan Doyle, the Chair of BC Hydro, appeared on BC Global TV News on July 14, 2010 to say that the corporation must spend as much as $220 million this year to import power from the United States to meet 10% of the provinces energy needs. The province in fact has been a net importer of power for the last 9 years, at a cost of $25-30 million per year. But as a result of a drought in B.C.'s north and a drop in the water volumes in hydro-electric reservoirs, recently at 77% of normal inflows–the fourth worst in 50 years—BC Hydro will have to spend eight times that amount on imported energy this year—much of it from dirty fossil fuel sources. NDP energy critic John Horgan warned of a coming rate shock of 29% to meet the extra costs, but BC Hydro is looking to gain permission to defer these costs to the future by tapping into a rainy day fund that would be replenished when the rain returns to normal patterns. The concept that global warming might thwart that confident expectation apparently does not enter Mr. Doyles mind.

What Mr. Doyle, Mr. Horgan and Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell have in
common is their acceptance of population growth as a given. Campbell says that BC will grow by a million people in the next 20 years. Former NDP environment critic, Shane Simpson, once proclaimed to an NDP gathering in January of 2007 that he will not tell people not to come to British Columbia. And neither will he tell people not to come to Canada. According to the 2006 census, some 80% of new BC residents came from other countries, and that percentage grows by the year. BC in fact attracts more immigrants per capita than any other province. But neither will Mr. Simpson, nor Mr. Horgan or anyone else in the BC NDP caucus tell the federal NDP not to lobby for higher immigration quotas. Like local and provincial politicians of all parties, they dodge immigration issues by hiding behind the skirt of provincial jurisdiction, arguing that they cannot do anything about incoming migration from any source. Yet they eagerly collude with their federal counterparts by offering support for their political campaigns as a quid pro quo for leveraging more federal
dollars to cope with the demands that issue from hyper-immigration. They want more money for ESL training, for infrastructure projects and a myriad of other expenditures.

Absurdly, Horgan joins the BC Hydro chorus and calls for more energy
conservation. The answer, it seems, is to develop alternative energy
sources and conserve. It is doubtful that the NDP, the Greens or the
Campbell Liberals ever met a problem that could not be solved by
decreasing per capita consumption and waste and lncreasing efficiency—-the great elixir for all that ails us. Campbells Clean Energy Act even held out the promise of reducing, through conservation, the forecasted growth of electricity demand in B.C. by 66% and a reduction of green house gas emissions by 33% in the next ten years —all the while an average of 50,000 new residents are hopping on board the provincial energy train each year. Nevertheless, while conservation would slow the rate of increasing energy consumption by as much as two-thirds, it would not stop it. In fact, according to Campbell, provincial energy demands will grow by 20-40% by 2030. Fast or slow, growth is growth, and it is definitely not sustainable.

Like its counterparts in other places, BC Hydro, of course, comes equipped with all the trendy buzzwords necessary to make this pitch palatable to any who might doubt its mission of having us believe that we can have our cake and eat it too. Everything will be smart, green, sustainable and efficient on the road to population overload. Move over, California! The Power Smart Sustainable Communities Program will help developers green their projects by providing expertise, education, program support and financial incentives. District energy systems will provide a
reduction in overall energy use and are able to utilize the most
environmentally friendly available source of energy such as biomass, waste heat or geoexchange heat pumps. Dont worry about the fact that some 200,000 more housing units will have to be constructed to accommodate the half a million new energy consumers who will make B.C. their home in the coming decade. These housing units will all be smart, green, sustainable and efficient. In the virtual reality of the trendy green imagination, we can apparently decouple economic and population growth from all negative ecological impacts. We can conserve, reuse, recycle and retrofit growth out of existence. As we grow our cities up and out, and burst urban boundaries with more and more housing, we can install CFL lights, energy star appliances, induction stove cooking tops, solar panels, apply paint that protects air quality, and offer new types of roofing materials, insulation, carpets and pavement. All these things will allow a theoretically infinite number of people to share this wonderful land. No doubt one can expect that soon thirst will be decoupled from water and ice cream consumption will be decoupled from weight gain.

Furthermore, the network of dams built in BC between 1960 and 1980 are
aging assets that require massive maintenance inputs of over $10 billion in the next five years. In addition, the proposed new dam project long the Peace River in northern B.C. will possibly require $15 billion dollars, and promises to supply power to some 410,000 homes in the province—a gain that would be wiped out in twenty years by the provinces expected growth. The NDP argues that a new dam is unnecessary, just as it argued a half century ago that many of former Premier W.A.C. Bennetts hydro megaprojects were unnecessary. It winces at the prospect of seeing 5,340 hectares of flooded land, and worries about its effect on agriculture and the environment—while remaining oblivious to the impact of immigrant-driven growth on those very same things. But rather than strike at the root of rising energy demands—the exponential growth in the number of consumers in British Columbia—it argues for all the boy scout measures that would reduce per capita consumption.

One day, it and all its rivals will learn that there are limits to