Earth scientist David Hughes has become well known in certain circles as the Cassandra of the oilpatch.
Cassandra, as the classically educated will recall, was the priestess of Apollo cursed to foretell the truth and never persuade anyone. A figure of Greek myth, and a walk-on part with a few lines in Shakespeare, everyone thought she was nuts.
Back in 2016, when Alberta’s New Democrats were changing before our eyes into another centre-right conservative party dedicated fighting for pipelines, Mr. Hughes published a study that concluded there was no way Canada could meet its global climate commitments if it kept building new export pipelines and ramping up oil extraction.
This seems pretty obvious, but at the time everyone who was anyone in Alberta acted like he was nuts.
Mr. Hughes also predicted that “new pipelines with tidewater access will not significantly increase the price Canada receives for its oil.”
This also seemed obvious to anyone who paid any attention to economics. But it challenged one of the political orthodoxies of the era, that building pipelines to tidewater and shipping ever increasing amounts of Alberta bitumen to Asia would magically repeal the iron law of supply and demand.
The belief that pipelines could defy economic gravity and overcome low world oil prices helped Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party…