In June, I had the opportunity to attend a student colloquium hosted by the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) on the theme of “Property Rights, Markets, and Freedom.” PERC is an institute based out of Bozeman, Montana. For more than thirty years, the institute has steadily been advancing the concept of free market environmentalism. I must admit – the experience of being the only Canadian in a group of twenty-five students from all across the United States was just as interesting as the topics discussed during the week!
The Communicating Energy conference participants were each given a five page excerpt from a Bloomberg-Nanos-survey in British Columbia on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Participants were tasked with reviewing the documents and making notes of the important facts and figures. Then, they were asked to write two short columns. One column was intended to offer a favourable or supportive perspective on the proposed pipeline project; the other was intended to offer a critical or opposition perspective. In both columns, participants were asked to integrate their observations and the polling data.
I enjoy hosting “conspiracy parties,” which involve a bunch of friends gathering together, eating snacks, and challenging mainstream notions about historical events or the way the world works. While some conspiracy theories are ludicrous and merely entertaining, others spark lively debate. After attending Joseph Howe’s 2014 Communicating Energy conference, I was inspired to make my next conspiracy party about climate change and the anti-fossil fuel movement. The mainstream notion is that global warming is a result of mankind’s CO2 emissions, and if you challenge this common assertion, you are automatically written off as a “denier.” Similarly, fossil fuels are widely viewed as “dirty energy.”
“Can anyone find a Bible? Does anyone know where the Bible is?”
My first minutes in the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, and already there was a complication. No one in the house of secular law could find a holy text to use for the swearing in of one Richard Foot, a man I had never heard of until moments earlier. He was visible via television in the corner, being live-streamed from Halifax or St. John’s or some other mystical place in eastern Canada.
“Well I guess we better all go home,” said the defense attorney, eliciting a snort of laughter. The judge, or “milady” as she was referred to, hadn’t yet entered the chamber, and the lawyers were doing the legal equivalent of a warm up routine. Instead of stretching, they spread compilations of evidence across desks, and instead of shooting layups, they shuffled papers.
They were as relaxed as people can get while wearing voluminous black robes and standing in a court of law. Or maybe as relaxed as people can be when arguing for the reputation of several columnists and editors from one of the country’s largest remaining print newspapers, The National Post.