Once upon a time in a northern Dominion called Canada, there was a thriving oil industry that provided fuel for vehicles, trains and airplanes. There was also a large natural gas industry that kept the people warm during the long cold winters and supplied the raw material for plants that manufactured plastics, detergents, fertilizer, synthetic clothing and a great many other items needed and used by people every day. That oil and natural gas industry employed more than a million people and its exports were the biggest contributor to the county’s international balance of payments. People working in the industry were proud that their operations were among the most technically advanced and environmentally responsible in the world.
Then a report written by a scientific advisory group called the International Panel on Climate Change was published, stating that the earth was warming and carbon-dioxide emissions from burning “fossil fuels” were the likely cause. And so it came to be that lowering emissions of the very substance that plants need to breath in the same way as animals need oxygen, and that provides the fizz in soda drinks and the bubbles in champagne, became the world’s most important environmental priority. Suddenly, after fueling the world’s progress for centuries, oil, natural gas and coal became environmental pariahs. Eco-elves flew in from far and wide to proclaim Canada’s oil and gas industry a major contributor to global warming. But in the real world, the industry contributed just a small part of Canada’s emissions, and Canada’s emissions were only two per cent of global emissions.