Jobs, Energy and Survival

by Barry Weisleder

Let’s talk about jobs and the carbon-based energy industry.

Who left Alberta oil workers in the lurch? It was not the opponents of pipelines. Environmentalists didn’t cause the commodity price to plummet. But the present situation does give everyone pause to take stock of where we’re going. It’s clear that the world is on a fast track to catastrophe, fueled by rising greenhouse gas emissions.

To avoid the certainty of disaster, a transition from carbon fuels to safe, clean, 100% renewables is urgent. Clearly, it cannot occur overnight. But, it must begin with rejection of any new pipelines. It must be accompanied by a commitment to re-tool the energy industry. In the process, we should not do to oil and gas workers what their greedy bosses have done — toss them onto the scrap heap, or drop them into the tar pit.

There must be a transition to solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro, ocean wave and wind power. Laid off workers should be at the centre of change. The energy shift must be engineered rapidly and extensively. It will cost trillions, and it must involve restitution to indigenous peoples.

Who will pay for this? The business class wants working people and the poor to pay for it, again and again. The rich even want to make money on it by operating a shell game called Cap and Trade.
Socialists say the polluters should pay. The plundering eco-pirates are the ones who must make amends.

It’s clear that if Big Oil and Gas don’t pay, the energy transition will not happen soon enough, and human civilization will be history.

Only public ownership of the entire energy sector, under democratic workers’ and community control, would enable society to harness the wealth and resources necessary to make this urgent transition in good time.