Youth Blog Series: Oil

Be the Change’s Youth Blog Series highlights blogs written by university student interns at Be the Change Earth Alliance. In the blogs, the interns reflect on their experience completing “Action Packs,” which are learning resources that guide students in research, critical thinking and tangible action related to a global sustainability topic.

Summary of Action Pack

In this Action Pack, students will explore how the extraction, transportation, and consumption of oil impact human and natural communities. Oil is a naturally occurring carbon based substance that is extracted beneath Earth’s surface and processed to create products such as plastics and gasoline. Even though oil is a useful fuel, the use of oil creates long term environmental and social consequences. Oil contributes to climate change because combustion of oil releases tremendous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Oil refinery plants and oil pipelines pose high safety risks to the environment because they are vulnerable to explosive fires and pipeline leakages. Both natural world stakeholders and local communities, such as First Nations groups, are susceptible to environmental pollution caused by oil extraction, transportation, and consumption. As students go through the Action Pack, they will learn about green energy alternatives such as wind turbines, solar energy, and nuclear power, and find out some of their advantages and disadvantages. Students are encouraged to reduce their dependence on oil consumption, and they can take action by attending a rally or event that talks about expansion of oil projects in the local, national, and global community. They can also research alternative options to petroleum-based products. By the end of the Action Pack, students will have a better understanding about the long term consequences of humankind’s dependence on oil. 

My Reflection

I seeked to find out which government department and which elected officials were responsible for the regulation of oil and gas. It is important to be educated about who in our provincial and federal government oversees oil and gas. I then wrote emails to the relevant federal Member of Parliament (Alice Wong) and to the Minister of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources. In the emails, I expressed my environmental and social concerns with the extraction, transportation and consumption of oil. Although I felt that my emails did not lead to large steps in change, it felt great knowing that I was able to contact someone of power to voice my concerns.