I get so tired of this issue coming up year after year whether through groups like the Council of Canadians or lately the Polaris Institute with their report here: http://www.polarisinstitute.org/files/t ... ada's%20ta
It was refreshing to hear Rob Breckenridge on QR77 take the author of the Polaris report to task and expose him rather well on the bunk that he is pushing. Tony Clarke with the Polaris Institute was constantly stuttering and dodging as Breckenridge challenged him with the most effective tactic available in the countering of anti-trade, leftist, fearmongering; he used facts.
Clarke began by asserting the constant myth about how Canada would be compelled to sell it's water in bulk due to conditions in NAFTA. Unlike many who Clarke has spewed at, Breckenridge has done his homework and actually read the agreement. NAFTA expressly states that water (aside from bottled and tanked water) is not to be considered a trade-good under the agreement. If anything, NAFTA actually protects us from the mythical draining of the nation by the United States. Clark stuttered, had no case to make and eventually mumbled about having to agree to disagree on the interpretation. (it is difficult to have many interpretations of such a clear statement)
Next Clarke rambled about how the USA could just ignore agreements anyway and force trade as they have done many times before.
Breckenridge challenged him to name one single such case. Clarke sidetracked and kept rambling but Breckenridge continued to push. Clarke finally had to shamefully admit there was no such case.
This Tony Clarke is a classic example of those who continue to push this myth about the threat to Canada's fresh water supplies. These people have an agenda of anti-American and anti-trade goals and they will not hesitate to fabricate issues in order to make their case. This "ends justifies the means" ideal is rather prevalent on the left particularly in trade and environmental issues where actual facts would undercut their entire case. Sadly, these people are not exposed to the light of reality as Breckenridge did so masterfully often enough.
Getting back to the Polaris Institute report, the document begins with a map of Canada with a depiction of a tap on it draining our water into the USA. Very cute depiction and gives a nice visual. Going farther down in the document, we see a nice picture of some dry cracked dirt. You know, the kind of thing that we see in our back yard if we forget to water during a dry couple weeks in August.
Through pictures we can now already see the terrifying prospect of the desertification of Canada through the mass draining of our fresh water into the United States. A terrifying thought indeed.
To begin with, they begin to lay out how this threat has existed for decades and trot out the tired old "Grand Canal" concept of the 60s. They forget to mention that the reason this Grand Canal has never even had ground broken on it is that it is and always has been an unviable pie-in-the-sky project that never could realistically come into being. What bringing this up does illustrate though is that the anti-trade folks can't find any better examples of bulk threats to Canada's water (perhaps because there are none).
Next they move on to pointing out some stats and facts about how many American cities and regions are facing shortages of fresh water supplies. This is true and urban populations throughout the world are facing this as their population grows. Rather than dedicate time to the issue of more responsible water management in urban settings though, these people have prefferred to use this issue to imply that their is a growing threat to Canada's water due to this.
Next, they move on to Canada's water supplies and call us "the Great Green Sponge of the North". Now they play some interesting stat games here in which they try to understate just how much water we have. In their rather creative accounting they determine that the United States actually has more renewable water resources than Canada. While their goal here was to portray Canada as being short on fresh water, does this not beg the question "In this case, is Canada's demand not a threat to American supplies?". Apparently the USA has more but I guess they are coming after ours due to simple greed.
Next, we have a picture of a resevoir next to a desert. Kinda cute, but it really means nothing. Water retention in arid regions has been done since prior to Roman times.
The report now moves on to one of their weakest points. The logistics of how this water will be transported. This I have to post verbatum as it is simply too loony to be believed.
Western Corridor: Originally, the North American
Water and Power Alliance [NAWAPA] was designed
to bring bulk water from Alaska and northern British
Columbia for delivery to 35 U.S. States. By building a
series of large dams, the northward flow of the Yukon,
Peace, Liard and a host of other rivers would be
reversed to move southward and pumped into the
Rocky Mountain Trench where the water would be
trapped in a giant reservoir and then pumped through
a canal transporting the water southward into
Washington state and 34 other states.
Good heavens! A trench 1000s of kilometers long is going to be created and will drain the Great White North!!!!
Now lets get a little perspective here. One of the largest water diversion projects undertaken by man was the Panama Canal. This project tooks decades and the participation of multiple nations. 27,500 workers died in the contruction.
What is the length of the Panama Canal? A total of 77km. The canal itself moves about as much water as the Bow river in Calgary (a tiny river in the scheme of things).
Now in light of that, try to picture what exactly it would take to move mass quanties of water more than 3000 km from the North to the USA. This means crossing numerous mountain ranges in the Rockies and somehow crossing all those pesky (and giant) river valleys along the way that would try to drain all that water back into the Pacific.
This concept would take 1000s of times the resources of the Panama Canal if indeed it is even humanly possible.
We will have colonized Venus before such a project comes about. Despite this, kooky groups like this have no qualms about spreading such scenarios in hopes of spreading fears of the big bad USA. Even more sad is watching our mainstream media treat these guys like they have even a shred of credibility.
So, the crazy canal idea is out, what else have they got?
Ahh, I see they mention how a series of supertankers may drain water and take it south. Hmmmmm
Just how many millions of supertankers would we have to line up at the mouth of the Fraser River just to capture and take what naturally comes out of there and flows into the Pacific Ocean? How many billions of tankers to cover all of the Canadian outlets to the Oceans? Why... this project could very well employ the entire planet by having them work on supertankers alone.
Next they touch briefly on pipelines. I suspect that they remain brief as even these folks realize that any massive pipeline constructed that would move a significant amount of water is really rather unviable. The Alliance Pipeline that transfers gas from NE BC costed billions and took years to build. Even if the trillion or so it would take to add the compression and pumping capability to that pipe in order to get it to move water that huge distance were invested, the pipeline would only move about the same volume of water as a small creek. It would take thousands of such pipes hundreds of years to drain even one of our smaller northern lakes dry and we would long have run out of the energy sources we would need in order to pump that water before we ran out of water.
The kooky ideas go on and on from multiple groups claiming everything from towing portions of the polar ice-cap south to large undersea bladders.
There is a very good reason that none of these projects have come about or are even in the works; water is tough to move in bulk. Water does not compress like gas. Water is heavy. While water is indeed a precious commodity, it still is not worth nearly enough per-gallon to try and move on the scales proposed.
The basis of the entire water fearmongering case is this; American cities are low on water (and some agricultural land), thus the Americans will force us to give them ours. The first part is fact, the second part is sheer baloney.
Desalination is an expensive process that makes for rather gross drinking water. That being said, desalinization is growing in leaps and bounds as the cost of the process is dropping and strides are being made in viable short-transfer of water processed this way. New plants are being built and water shortages down south are being addressed through it.
North America is indeed bounded by oceans on all sides. While desalinization remains expensive, it still costs a fraction of a fraction of the amount that would be required in order to come up with any of the loony water extraction schemes taking water from Canada and moving it to the USA. A person really has to ask themselves: "Why would the Americans spend 1000s of times the amount, plus pay Canada (or steal it
) in order to do what they can for far less on any of their coastlines?" The answer simply is that they will not.
Where is the demand for this water? Why do we not see companies lining up for the chance to extract and sell this precious part of life?
I do not want to see water export bans. We may indeed get fortunate enough to find some client crazy enough to purchase water from one of our river outlets to the ocean (unlikely as it is). It would be a great form of revenue for the nation all the same. I suspect though that these potential client-countries would probably just retain their own water before it hits their own coastline.
While this is a non-issue as I said, I still felt compelled to post this rather long rant addressing it. Sadly while being a non-issue, this issue does indeed gain some traction with many people who like to get scared by the headlines without looking more deeply into the story. This issue is being used to foster anti-Americanism by the leftist groups that thrive on that and people's fears from this may impact trade-agreements on real commodities.
The fear of the loss of Canada's fresh water can cost us all in itself and this myth needs to be countered vigorously whenever it pops up. Facts turn this issue into the non-starter that it is, but these facts need to be brought up and discussed often.
Real water issues such as pollution and urban overconsumption need to be addressed. These can often end up sidelined as people jump on the fearful hysteria bandwagon being created by the anti-trade groups. This should not happen.
This report from the Polaris Institute was issued in collaberation with: The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, the Sierra Club and the Canadian Labor Congress.
I think the list of supporters kind of says it all.