Former U.S. President concedes energy transition will be “disruptive”

But, Barack Obama told a Calgary audience, "we can figure it out"

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama told a Calgary audience that “the scale of tragedy that will consume humanity is something that we have not seen in perhaps recorded history if we don’t do something about it” Photo credit: TINEPUBLIC Greg Paupst

Mario ToneguzziFormer U.S. President Barack Obama told a Calgary audience Tuesday that the oil and gas industry has “powered” the industrial revolution, Canada’s economy, the U.S. economy and the world.

“And it has been an extraordinary run” and the cheapest means of powering “all the things that we do,” said Obama.

But he said it was “indisputable that the planet is getting warmer.”

And “at the the current pace that we are on, the scale of tragedy that will consume humanity is something that we have not seen in perhaps recorded history if we don’t do something about it,” he added.

He said the world is recognizing it is going to have to come up with new energy sources and clean up energy sources that are not as clean as they need to be.

“There is going to be a transition and it is going to be disruptive but we can figure it out,” he said, adding that in the future the world could have a “really chaotic situation that is hard to reverse.”

“If you are a practical person , and let’s say work in the oil and gas industry right now, and it provides a great living and you feel like it provides a great service and this is critical to the global economy, and you take great pride in your work, but understand that we’re going to have to make a choice one way or the other. And either we’re going to do it intentionally and thoughtfully and seriously or it happens to us.”

Obama said it’s extraordinary what the industry is doing today to extract oil and gas.

“I think that we’re entering into an interesting, challenging time globally and in advanced democracies, liberal democracies like the United States and Canada and there are a number of reasons for it. Some of it has to do with globalization and the fact that the global supply chain and capital moving so quickly . . . ,” he said.

Changes happen fast now. Communities can be displaced. People lose their jobs.

“When people feel insecure, they tend to revert back to more fundamental instincts . . . They start thinking about us versus them and in big multi-cultural democracies like ours that makes things more challenging. If you combine that with social media, which on one hand is an extraordinarily powerful tool . . . there’s enormous potential around social media but what is also true is that it is toxic in many ways.”

Mario Toneguzzi is a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary. He writes for Calgary’s Business.


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