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Either global warming is real, or the volumes of scientific evidence supporting climate change have been created as a cruel hoax.

Since I’m not one who puts much stock in conspiracy theories, and because thousands of scientists, including many NASA scientists, have loudly proclaimed that global warming is real, I have never believed the arguments that environmentalists were fabricating the supporting evidence. But I wanted to stay informed, and I wanted to understand the magnitude of the problem, so I spent several weeks sifting through the information that had been made available to the public, and my research convinced me that not only is climate change real, the scope of the problem is staggering.

From Physicist Neela Banerjee, PhysOrg:

Emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide reached an all-time high last year, further reducing the chances that the world could avoid a dangerous rise in global average temperature by 2020, according to the International Energy Agency, the energy analysis group for the world's most industrialized states.

According to the vast majority of climatologists, the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of industrialization over the last 150 years has led to an increase in global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius. Scientists and the IEA contend that countries need to keep the global average temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in order to avoid profound damage to life on Earth, from water and food scarcity to rising sea levels to greater incidence and severity of disease. (all emphasis in this diary mine)

Read more at:

That statement is unequivocal, and there is a mountain of evidence to support the IEA's claim. It's even more alarming when you consider that some scientists are predicting the planet's temperature will rise 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

And the Keystone XL Pipeline will contribute significantly to the rise in temperatures (remember after the planet heats 2 degrees Celsius, then we are in perilous territory):

Consider this: It takes two tons of tar sand just to produce one barrel of oil.

Tar sand has the consistency of molasses when it has been warmed to room temperature, which makes it more toxic to refine than crude oil:

Making liquid fuels from oil sands requires energy for steam injection and refining. This process generates a higher amount of greenhouse gases for the same quantity of final product than the "production" of conventional oil.... Wikipedia
Tar sand also has to be diluted with water and lye (a caustic substance) before it can be pushed through the Keystone XL Pipeline.

*Roughly, 19.9 gallons of gasoline are produced from one barrel of oil -- depending on what grade of gasoline you want.

A large sized SUV normally holds 20 gallons of gasoline, which means a 2010 Lexus RX 450h will require almost two tons of tar sand just to fill the tank.

The average service station sells between 500 to 600 gallons of gasoline per day. That requires about 25 to 30 barrels of oil to produce, or in the case of tar sand, it means 50 to 60 tons of tar sand will have to be refined to keep an average gas station operating for one day.

The current plan is to pipe 62,500 tons of tar sand (500,000 barrels) through the XL Keystone pipeline each day.

In CO2 emissions, 1 ton of CO2 is produced by 3.15 barrels of crude oil, and tar sand produces more CO2 than regular crude. So that means the oil coming through the pipeline will eventually dump more than 158,370 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each day.

There are many ways tar sand can have a negative impact on our ecosystem. Here are just four: 1) a pipeline spill could occur along the 2000 mile XL Pipeline corridor, 2) sulfuric dioxide will be released into the atmosphere during the refining process, 3) CO2 emissions generated from automobile engines will add to CO2 levels, and 4) CO2 will deplete oxygen from the atmosphere (which is already having a profound effect on nature).

The more CO2 that is produced, the less oxygen there will be. This won’t be so immediately noticable in the atmosphere as it is and will be in the world’s oceans, where the mix of dissolved CO2 competes to a certain extent with the quantity of dissolved oxygen. Anoxia in extreme cases produces dead zones where no aquatic life can survive.

What I would say is that there may be factors that could result in a far greater depletion of oxygen in the air and oceans. Deforestation, for example, is a direct assault on one of the primary mechanisms for producing atmospheric oxygen. And there’s apparently a concern now that Climate Change could spark a huge collapse in forest eco-systems, accelerating the process we began.

Also, the increase of CO2 in the air is contributing to a rise in marine acidity, which may in turn inhibit both plankton and algae growth. This will result in less oxygen all round as well as creating those “dead zones” you mentioned.

Jim Bliss

March 12, 2012 – New York Times

RIPLEY, Okla. — President Obama stood in a red-dirt field before acres of stacked pipeline pieces on Thursday to illustrate his support for expedited construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But his public declaration for the project pleased neither the industry and its Republican allies nor environmentalists.

“But the fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years, including one from Canada,” Mr. Obama added. “And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.”

The destruction of our planet will favor no political party (except perhaps the wealthy Republicans who are preparing for the coming disaster by building an underground city in Kansas). Eventually it will effect every living organism on earth. Right now, we are on a collision course that is pitting big money interests against the survival of our children and grandchildren. Taking action to reverse apocalyptic consequences of global warming seems like an easy choice, but unfortunately, too many of our nation's leaders have been compromised by greed or by the quest for power, so they no longer act in our nation's best interests.

It is an unfortunate truth that we are unwilling to acknowledge.

Finding a solution will require voters to face down the political leaders from their respective parties. And the first demons we must unite against are the big energy companies that are steering the runaway train over the cliff.

“If oil provided 100 per cent of global energy, and we used twice as much as we do today, [we would have] a 59-year supply of oil based on known reserves.”

Ripudaman Malhotra - senior energy analyst at SRI (Stanford Research Institute) International

Numbers like that translate into big money.

And if you think only in terms of money, it is easy to understand why politicians aren't too worried about the impending collapse of the polar ice caps:

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 412 billion barrels (of oil-equivalent energy) are waiting to be discovered north of the Arctic Circle.

Global warming is real.

So is the looming collapse of our ecosystem.

We have no other choice but to face the problem head on. Unfortunately, some politicians are pushing the meme that we must learn to adapt. Forget that option. Unless we act now, in ten years, there will be no options left for helping our grandchildren. Just do the research and you will understand what I am saying.

*Edited to reflect clarifications by 0112358 and Quicklund:

Crude oil is fractionally distilled (IIR the term correctly) which results in a spectrum of products from that one barrel of oil. (As O112358's link shows.) The non-gasoline portion of the spectrum taken together amounts to more than the gasoline portion.

Originally posted to praenomen on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  19.9 gallons of gas per barrel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, skohayes, LakeSuperior

    Not that I am not an expert either so I may be wrong but

    "*Roughly, 19.9 gallons of gasoline are produced from one barrel of oil -- depending on what grade of gasoline you want."

    Sounds a little misleading.

    You basically imply that you only get that ~20 gallons of gasoline and nothing else. Which is wrong.. you get a lot of  other products from that same barrel.

    seems informative.  Apparently you actually get more product (in volume)  out than you put in. Funny fact that I did not know till just now.

    Not to say your overall point is invalid

    •  Did you read the asterisk at the bottom of the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, Quicklund, sockpuppet, corvo


      *Not every ounce of refined oil is used to make gasoline. A very small percentage is used to create other products.
      •  That's not quite the same thing (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes, sandbox, Egalitare, carver

        Crude oil is fractionally distilled (IIR the term correctly) which results in a spectrum of products from that one barrel of oil. (As O112358's link shows.) The non-gasoline portion of the spectrum taken together amounts to more than the gasoline portion, not just a "small percentage" of it.

        The 'small percentage' reference means some of the material that would ordinarily be turned into gasoline is instead turned into other specialty products.

      •  Actually, all the oil is used to make other produc (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, carver

        products. A barrel is 42 gallons of crude. Of that, about 20 gallons becomes gasoline (there is a little variation in that #.)
        9-10 gallons becomes diesel, fuel oil, jet fuel. At the bottom of the vat you get asphalt, with various lubricants in between. With further refining you can turn some of the asphalt into more gasoline.
          Due to the fact that most refinery products have a lower specific gravity than crude, there is a "refinery gain," meaning that the volume of product is greater than the volume of crude and feedstock.
           Tar sands are a substance called bitumin. Tar sand oil is extra heavy crude and contains more asphalt compounds and paraffins than light crude.
           Exploiting the Canadian tar sands involves strip mining and various water intensive processes. The high CO2 emissions from tar sand use is due to the extraordinary amount of processing required to obatin a useful product.

  •  And there's this: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    praenomen, Bob Love, corvo

    muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

    by veritas curat on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:33:33 PM PDT

  •  Are tar sands themselves pumped through XL? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It strikes me as prohibitively expensive to push 60 tons of tar sand through the pipeline over thousands of miles. That's a cost in both dollars and in energy. It seem that it would take more energy to move two tons 1,000+ miles than is contained in one barrel of oil.

    Plus refineries are designed to process crude oil, not to separate sand from oil. Not to mention the disposal problem of the tons of sand. Texas is big but it can't hold all of Canada. (joke)

    Pre-processing the sand at the source to remove the oil seems like both an obvious idea and possibly might be necessary for the project to be viable.

    Can you clarify that point? Is the pipeline intended to carry oily sand or is it intended to carry oil?

    •  Mistake (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Two tons / barrel not not 60 would have to be moved all that distance. That might be a net energy-gainer.

      But it's still easier to pump 300 pounds of crude than 4,000 pounds of sand, so I'd expect these companies to pre-process the sand at the mine site if it were at all possible.

    •  My understanding is the sludge is thinned by (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      adding water and lye, and then it is moved through the pipeline in the same manner as crude.

      When you look at the cost of moving the product and refining it, you wonder if the company had another motive for constructing the pipeline under such resistance. But then again, I'm no expert on the thought processes of oil companies.

      Thanks for joining the discussion. You have a lot of expertise I wish could have tapped into when I was writing the article.

      •  You wrote a good diary (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        praenomen, dirkster42, ban nock

        Thanks for your compliments too, but I've pretty much used all my technical ammo WRT factional distillation. ;) But some things transcend technologies: in any process energy must be conserved - and that applies 100-fold for money.

        The driver for this project is of course money. Tar sand oil is not feasible in a cheap oil market. But at $100/bbl it is.


        Oil is at $100/bbl because it is so important. Fossil fuel is why Earth's population managed to grow past 7 billion. If global fossil fuel production were halved overnight, that would help w/global warming. But hundreds of millions would probably starve to death or perish from the elements.

        I am as worried about overpopulation as anyone here. But who here would be willing to flip that switch halving production, knowing that spelled doom for a billion souls?

        This is a big problem. And it is also why no matter what the USA does under this President or another that the pipeline will be built. It might not be the XL pipeline to Texas. But if not it will probably be a pipeline to a Canadian port.

        Sometime the indirect path is the effective path. Perhaps pushing the carbon tax is a better way of stopping these pipelines than attacking the XL line itself. under a carbon tax system that dirty oil sand would become very very expensive, dirty oil sand.

        •  Thanks. I think the carbon tax would be a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maryabein, Quicklund

          a positive step, but there needs to be a wholesale change in the way we approach the problem.

          I've always been a fan of alternative energy products, but it would take an enormous effort to implement the requisite changes to make it successful.

        •  wait a second..... (0+ / 0-)

          Are you not making a big assumption about the effect and level of a carbon tax?  

          One problem to think about is that if you enact a tax on carbon fuels in the marketplace, that tax will most likely be a tax on the carbon content of a fuel in its as-delivered form.   This means the tax does not address the emissions associated with the processing of the synthetic crude from tarsands.....only the carbon content of the fuel as-delivered.

      •  Diluted with petro products (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The bitumen is diluted for pumping with natural gas condensates and other petroleum products.  This can all be recovered and refined at the destination.

        More about tar sands:

        I strongly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline extension for many reasons--the environmental devastation of the mining area is one big one.

  •  There's a bigger threat than Keystone in the works (8+ / 0-)

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 01:31:46 AM PDT

  •  I have been to the tar sands (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RWood, corvo, praenomen

    Way back around 1983.

    The tar sands are a massive operation and have been in development for decades.  A great deal of money has been invested there over a very long period of time with the intent that eventually the technologies developed would allow for a product that would make some folks very wealthy.

    They aren't going to give up easily.  

    I am disappointed in Obama's willingness to allow this product into the U.S.

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:14:51 AM PDT

  •  As long as a flight back and forth from coast to (0+ / 0-)

    coast uses the equivalent of three Lexus fill ups I see no solution. We drink gasoline. We drink it to go cross country skiing and eco touring just as much as for anything else. Need huge tax disincentives.

    I think Obama has done ok. He balances our demand with a push to the future to get us off the oil drug. When tar crude gets here is it much different than what we get from Venezuela?

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:12:55 AM PDT

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