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View Diary: GOP Sen. Johanns opposes Keystone XL pipeline (27 comments)

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  •  Canada's tar sands contain too much oil to use... (1+ / 0-)
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    dewley notid

    We will have exhausted the atmosphere's ability to absorb CO2 long before significant amounts of these vast reserves oil could ever be used. Building this pipeline is not economical or logical.  The aquifer is not the real threat. These tar sands are within spitting distance of the permafrost range, a geologic feature that is practically the only meteorologic buffer we have if the polar ice sheet degrades much further. The permafrost range is a phase-change medium. Once its thaw rate exceeds its refreeze rate, it will do so suddenly, like when you add too much water when your mixing plaster. It just turns to mush, quickly. If it begins to degrade permanently it will begin releasing CO2 into the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates matching its accelerating thaw rate. It will become a self-feeding, quickly-accelerating cycle. These rates of addition to the atmosphere will dwarf anything we do with the tar sands since we're already undoing millions of years of carbon sequestration (coal, oil and deforestation) and the permafrost is another piece of the pie that we haven't found extractable for our own uses. I guess the peat bogs kept us busy enough that we overlooked the permafrost.

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