Future generations will regard the TMX pipeline as a curious monument

The Trans Mountain pipeline may be redundant. If it remains empty, future generations will wonder why it was built.

It’s a distinct possibility that the TMX pipeline, currently being built a short walk from my house in Kamloops, is unnecessary. At least, not in the near future according to a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Existing pipelines, and expansion of Enbridge’s Mainline and Line 3, will create “more than enough pipeline export capacity” through to 2040. By then, renewable energy sources will be in place.

image: The Public Library

I’ve often wondered why the Egyptian pyramids were built when they serve no practical purpose. Sure, they were a technical marvel but they seem a bit much for a Pharaoh’s tomb when a simple gravestone would suffice.

It turns out that the pyramids were a vital symbol in Egyptian society. The Pharaoh, regarded as someone human yet divine, was responsible for maintaining prosperity. Therefore it was in everyone’s interest to keep the king’s majesty intact in the elaborate pyramids built after his death.

Generations, centuries from now, will marvel at the technical aspects of the TMX pipeline but wonder why an unused pipeline was built. Did the civilization that built it collapse before it was put to use?

Future generations will learn of the mythical properties oil in the past; how oil played an important role in the prosperity and good fortune of oil-producing provinces such as Alberta. Oil was so important to the national psyche that the federal government financed the pipeline construction. Seeing the talismanic importance of pipelines, future archaeologists will conclude that shamans directed the construction of empty pipelines to attract more oil and maintain prosperity and good fortune.

Even further into the future, archaeologists who live millennia from now will wonder what those curious lines are that span the countryside that once was Canada. Radar imagining will reveal pipes buried below the surface. Now, the burning of fossil fuels will be not only be illegal but unthinkable. Organic solar receptors will provide energy too cheap to meter. The Egyptian sun god, Ra, will be restored to veneration.

These future archaeologists will compare the curious pipe lines with others built long ago, the so-called Nazca Lines. They will see a similarity between the pipe lines and the lines and patterns of animals and plants made in Peru three millennia ago. Both the Nazca Lines and the pipe lines are best viewed from above. Both placed in arid locations, they must symbolize the irrigation system that was so vital to the regions. The gods, viewing them from on high, would be prompted to provide water for irrigation.

This would be a natural conclusion for generations living on a planet heated from the rise in CO2 to 1,000 parts per million; the polar caps now tropical and the oceans 200ft higher than millennial ago. The Prairies parched and lifeless.

And this is the likely destiny of the TMX pipeline. The mountain glaciers in Alberta, B.C. and Yukon that feed the rivers of the Prairies, will be reduced by 80 per cent in 50 years. Eventually the rivers will dwindle to a trickle.

In the not-too-distant future, water will become revered. In a futile effort to combat rising temperatures due to the build-up of CO2, water will flow from the West Coast to Alberta through the TMX pipeline.