Tech versus Teck and my lament for a nation

It gives me no pleasure -- and will almost certainly cut into my profit -- to say the things I am about to say. This is not precisely a political topic. But enough politics creeps in that I am bound to alienate much of my readership -- in the main, the owners and employees of companies based around innovation.

My public relations clientele is in the tech sector. Even if the people who work in such companies are often do-as-they’re-told conservatives, the founders and leadership of innovative, blue-sky companies tend to reside on the left. (As Canada’s most famous thinker in a generation has put it, liberals start companies, conservatives run them.)

This is particularly true in Canada, where doublethink is so widespread in the business community that many leaders vote not merely left, but socialist red-guard left.

Weirdly, these days, that translates into Greta Thunberg (or David Suzuki)-style green. For such people, arguing against massive new state controls and a forced shutdown of important industries, is not just wrong, but evil -- and deserving of prison time.

With that in mind, this essay seems to be a futile gesture. But I have to say something.

Climate alarmists have chosen purity over prosperity -- and we can’t easily innovate our way out of this

To reiterate, I live in Canada -- or as I liked to call it (until a few days ago), Silicon Valley North. In this country, there has been a takeover of the top echelons of power by an unknown number of Extinction Rebellion radicals.

To riff off Douglas Murray’s wonderful book, my country is committing suicide. But here, we generally know who precisely is doing it -- and why.

Our elected leaders are doing it because the people (albeit, through minority government status) have empowered and effectively asked them to do this thing: which is to destroy our economy in pursuit of climate justice -- whatever that is.

We’ve surrendered to climate protesters and sacrificed our future prosperity -- basically, for nothing.

I don’t think we can ascribe to mere incompetence a long string of setbacks to Canada’s resource sector -- the latest of which is the withdrawal of the Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. from Canada’s oilpatch. A $20 billion resource project had been planned, which would have employed thousands at high salaries, in a region that has been starved for development.

This followed the purchase of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project by the government - an ostensibly pro-resource economy move, though it was in fact a desperate and unplanned fallback move after abandonment by a company that saw no way forward.

Investors, domestic and abroad, will get the message. We’re not just being slowly weaned off of our resource sector, which has been the wellspring of prosperity for so many communities. We’re terminating it. Crushing it. Burning it down to the ground.

I can sum up this kind of David Suzuki-branded environmental ideology simply: Oil, bad. Renewables, good. Industry, bad. Innovation, good. Pipelines, bad. Wifi, good. Capitalism, bad. Government regulations, good.

There is no room for nuance. No patience for compromise. No matter how low our carbon emissions actually are, we must simply “do something!” -- because to do otherwise is not just wrong, but immoral.

All of which is dumb, of course.

You can’t build renewable sources of energy without major inputs of energy and resources. Without industry, you don’t innovate. Without traditional energy sources, often brought by pipeline, we simply can’t power our highly advanced, wired-up cities.

Bad news for the energy sector is bad news for the tech sector, too

But wait… I work in public relations for tech companies. What’s the energy-resource sector got to do with me?

A lot. And if you work in the tech sector, as an entrepreneur, coder, marketer, designer, etc, it matters to you, too.

Who do you think are some of the biggest buyers of advanced technology in Cleantech? Traditional energy and resource companies that want to improve the efficiency of their operations or add renewable capacity. More efficiency means more profits.

Same goes for the Internet of Things. Big data. Machine learning. Apps and app developers. Engineering expertise of all kinds. And all of the spin-off skills needed in accounting, HR, design, marketing and communications…

Wipe out our traditional industries and you also kill a ton of "new economy" jobs.

Then, there’s the energy we aren’t getting out of the ground anymore -- which we need to get from somewhere.

Our mushrooming server farms alone are a colossal power drain. Without Canada’s resources, we’ll still get our energy from somewhere. You choose: Putin’s Russia, jihad-exporting Gulf countries, or Latin American kleptocracies?

We are killing off our own prosperity in order to possibly reduce the global temperature by less than one degree, 100 years from now.

Those of us who profit from innovation can and should stand together with others who make it possible.

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