Chris Pecora

Environmental Glossary

Secret memo to new UCP candidates.

By Kevin Van Tighem

There will be a provincial election early next year. Should we win, a number of you will be seated in the Legislature. It will be important to keep the learning curve as short and shallow as possible. It would be unfortunate, after all, if new members of Alberta’s natural ruling party were to commit the kinds of faux pas that our government’s more seasoned backbenchers and cabinet ministers specialize in.

“Unfortunately, many Albertans still believe there is such a thing as an ‘environment’ and seem to feel the UCP doesn’t care about it.”

Unfortunately, many Albertans still believe there is such a thing as an “environment” and seem to feel our party doesn’t care about it. Accordingly, the following glossary has been developed to help new MLAs avoid misspeaking.

This is a work in progress. But we feel it’s important to get the first edition out the door as quickly as possible.

Carbon capture: cramming small quantities of CO2 into the earth so as to be able to continue to profit from selling fossil fuels that send vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. See also: Greenwash.

Carbon dioxide: wonderful stuff that helps plants grow and makes beer fizzy. Sadly, less than 0.1 per cent of earth’s atmosphere is comprised of carbon dioxide, but Alberta is at the forefront of addressing this deficit. Radical scientists say it’s a greenhouse gas that causes dangerous global heating, but Alberta’s winters are too cold anyway. So what’s the issue?

Coal: a substance more valuable (at least to Australian mine speculators) than water, scenery, trout, ranching, Indigenous culture or tourism. Totally organic. Since it’s shipped to foreign countries before being burned, the CO2 it produces only heats their atmosphere.

Critical infrastructure: what Indigenous or environmental protesters picket near: a highway, pipeline, coal mine or other profitable enterprise. Not what potential UCP voters blockade.

Curriculum (new): correct Eurocentric Christian factoids for kids to memorize before finally escaping school to work in the oilpatch. Designed to crowd out any dangerous inclination towards informed, critical thinking.

Foreign funding: when people in other countries send money to environmentalists in our province to attack Alberta’s economy. Unfortunately a multi-million-dollar witch hunt failed to find evidence that it’s happening. Then came the Coutts blockade… but we don’t talk about that. See also: Hypocrisy.

Grizzly bear: something for Jason Nixon’s friends to shoot when not enjoying a few cold beers in a provincial park. See also: Sandhill crane.

Horse: not a grizzly bear.

Kananaskis Conservation Pass: bought by the urban hikers whom the Minister of Environment disdains, to access their own public land. Revenues are used to reopen washrooms and visitor centres he closed. Not required if you have a destructive vehicle that rips up meadows and creeks. Conservation, in this new definition, is about building and maintaining facilities, a modern approach that replaces the old conservation, which was about caring for fish, wildlife, land and water.

Net-zero by [pick a comfortably distant date]: a serious-sounding word multinationals and their captive governments use when making promises they don’t intend to keep. Allows ongoing pollution of the atmosphere while making it seem sort of like you care about the climate crisis. See also: Greenwash.

Notley: the enemy. But annoyingly popular.

Park: “sterilized” land not available for coal strip-mining, mud-bogging or real estate development. For sale. Okay, not for sale. Yet. Yeesh: breathe, people.

Pipeline: a method of delivering oil and gas to the world. Magically makes Alberta great again when built. Please avoid discussing the fact that our government spent over a billion dollars on one that will never be built, while the federal Liberal government bought and is building a pipeline. See also: Cognitive dissonance.

Recreation: driving motorized vehicles on public land, camping for free and shooting guns. The rest is sissy stuff.

Responsible development: rapid liquidation of forests, oil, gas, soil, gravel and any other environmental resource that can be sold at a profit. The adjective is just to make it look pretty.

Sustainable: an adjective. Real men use nouns. Like “development.” See also: Greenwash.

Trudeau: Sauron’s servant in Ottawa, single-mindedly focused on destroying Alberta because… well, just because. Lots of hair. Hates pipelines, despite buying one. Saved the Rockies from coal strip-mining while Alberta’s “Environment” Minister actively promoted it. Sent millions of dollars to Albertans during the pandemic while our province fought doctors. Saved the Alberta economy from a weeks-long blockade of our major trading highway while Kenney expressed his fervid respect for the blockaders. But in spite of all that, invoking his name triggers voter rage; very useful.

Kevin Van Tighem’s Wild Roses Are Worth It: Reimagining the Alberta Advantage was published in spring 2021 by RMB.

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