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The Politics of Energy (Andrew Nikiforuk, journalist and author)

Alberta Institute of Agrologists 13th Annual Conference on Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Morning Plenary Session

March 16, 2017

For more than three decades Andrew Nikiforuk has written about energy, economics and the West for a variety of Canadian publications including the Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, Chatelaine, Georgia Straight, Equinox and Harrowsmith. His latest investigative book, Slick Water, examines the moral and legal implications of hydraulic fracturing, a brute force technology, that contaminates aquifers and causes earthquakes. In particular the book highlights the remarkable story of oil patch consultant Jessica Ernst.

Every day the politics of energy is increasingly driven by the energy of politics. Climate change and a structural shift in global oil pricing (and that system is now broken) explains part of the volatility. But declining energy returns from extreme resources (shale gas, bitumen and many renewables) also play a major yet little recognized role. Drawing upon global and Canadian examples, I'll explain why business as usual is dead and why energy issues will dominate politics in an era of economic stagnation in the decades ahead. The forecast is simple: states dependent on oil and gas revenue will experience more political instability and polarization than conventional economies.