I’m among that crowd of Canadians who feel they’re getting taken to the cleaners by Big Oil, while governments stand by and collect tax on inflated gas prices.
Greed is the only reason that’s emerging after last week’s mean-spirited spike at the pumps. Other excuses — such as switching from winter to summer gas, problems in the Middle East and shortages due to refineries closing — have been written off as lame by industry experts.
Some people say complaining about the price of gas is like a junkie complaining about the price of dope. But I don’t accept that. Mass transit works well in many situations, but it doesn’t always fit the bill in an expansive country such as ours. In many case, driving a vehicle is a necessity.
Periodically, advances are made in renewable fuel, an energy source that’s already arrived and shows great promise for further refinement. Efforts are underway in labs and facilities across the country, including the University of Guelph, to create and improve reasonably priced bio-based fuels and products made from feedstocks, or biomass, which can be grown in Canadian farmers’ fields. As an example, a consortium of 10 scientists from seven Ontario universities came together last month, led by Guelph-based Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, to form what they’ve called the Ontario Biomaterials A-team, to zero-in on these opportunities.
Biomass production comes with its own critics who say using land to grow crops for energy is diverting it away from food production. Others say it’s not and argue farmers should be able to grow whatever they want. It’s their land. We need to recognize that despite whatever altruistic image we have of farmers — stoic, humble, serving society first — they must make a profit on whatever they grow. If we won’t pay them a reasonable price to grow food, then who can blame them for growing more lucrative crops that are turned into renewable energy, particularly if they help lessen our dependence on Big Oil and prove to be easier on the environment?