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Seventeen trillion dollars. That’s more than a million times the amount of money capitalist big-shots on the golf course finagle, bullshit and haw-haw about in their most abject studied manners trying to manipulate the success of their passionate desire for their ship to finally come in. It’s a million lottery winners who can finally quit their shit jobs and buy an RV and tour the Southwest as they’ve always dreamed of.

That’s how much money we’re talking about in the Athabascan Tar Sands - sitting there under all that beautiful boreal forest in the traditional hunting and fishing range of the Dene Nations. Queen Victoria made a treaty with them – Treaty Number 8 – in the interest of protecting the Yukon gold rushers from their ire. It was about money then and it’s about money now.  

At $100 per barrel (there is a current differential between West Texas light crude at $94.02  and Brent crude at $112.24 – this differential has driven a great amount of greedy insanity both in our country and Canada – as an “average” I’ll go with $100),  170 billion barrels of oil is worth seventeen trillion dollars - $17,000,000,000,000.

This is an unimaginable number, an unimaginable amount of wealth. An amount of wealth that creates its own moral universe; its own universe of value. An amount that can turn a country, like Canada, from a leading signer of the Kyoto protocol into an international carbon villain and dinosaur – withdrawing from that protocol and standing in the way of progress on saving our planet from our own inability to deal with such vast amounts of wealth.

The center of the Athabascan Tar Sands is Fort McMurray.  Fort McMurray is a boom town. People are making pilgrimages to this desolate, isolated wilderness on the Athabasca river because there are jobs there. Fabulous jobs! Wages are high – even Wendy’s is paying $13.00 per hour (Canadian) and wages for an electrical tradesman run as high as $200,000 per year. And the tar sands employs more than 140,000 people at these kinds of six figure salaries.

All this, of course, assumes those one hundred seventy billion barrels are the kind of assets the corporations rooting their noses into the Canadian boreal forest assume they are. Not sub-prime assets. And certainly not toxic assets.

This is important because sub-prime and toxic assets led to our most recent financial meltdown, the Great Recession, that many say is not over. The Great Housing Bubble:  the assumption that housing prices wouldnot/couldnot/willnotever go down led to an unprecedented bubble in house prices that didn’t follow the “laws” (if ever there was a “science” that didn’t deserve to use the word “law” it is economics) of supply and demand. For as house prices rose the demand also rose – because people were madly consuming and, since real wages were stagnant, their houses became income sources. And thus, a huge cesspool of toxic assets centered on house financing swamped the economy.

But, Very Serious People say, the Tar Sands is nothing like this. Bitumen is an asset resistant to bubbles. The price of oil extracted at huge expense, raping the ecology and waters of the northern Alberta taiga, is high and will stay high. Everyone needs oil. That’s the way it is.

Welllllll… some people have the temerity to say that this bitumen, this Tar Sands, is just such a toxic asset,

The huge reserves of coal, oil and gas held by companies listed in the City of London are "sub-prime" assets posing a systemic risk to economic stability, a high-profile coalition of investors, politicians and scientists has warned Bank of England's governor, Sir Mervyn King.

In an open letter on Thursday, they tell King that the global drive to reduce carbon emissions could mean billions of pounds of fossil fuel reserves will rapidly lose value and cause a "major problem" for institutional investors and pension funds.

At the most recent UN climate change summit in December, 194 of the world's nations agreed to enact legally binding curbs on greenhouse gas emissions within three years to limit global warming to 2C. But meeting this limit would mean just 20% of existing fossil fuel reserves could be burned, according to recent research.

"These high-carbon assets pose significant strategic challenges for the future prosperity of Britain that just can't be ignored," said investment manager James Cameron, who is a member of the prime minister's business advisory group. "Investors continue to pour cash into unsustainable assets without understanding the risks associated with these investments, such as climate change, local pollution, fossil fuel price volatility, political risk and catastrophes such as Deepwater Horizon."

How dare hippies say such things about energy – energy extracted 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, by 400 ton dump trucks the size of apartment blocks!? If this isn’t a virile, free-market enterprise accomplished in the frozen northern wilderness by liberty loving individuals then Ayn Rand was a psychotic wackjob… Oh wait.

A Carbon Bubble; what a concept!

But, if as us hippies say, the burning of fossil fuels will destroy our planet, then there is no more toxic asset than the Athabascan Tar Sands. It must be discounted massively. The risk is too great. Greater by far than those toxic mortgage assets that sent bankers into Bailout Heaven.

So Stephen Harper, heavily involved in the Alberta based Alliance Party – a conservative pro-Tar Sands organization – has arisen to leadership of our Northern neighbor… seventeen trillion dollars carries a lot of political water. And, of course, it is money that shares in the Canadian ethical paradise. Here is some delicious irony from ethicaloil.org

Investors — wherever they come from — also come here knowing that Canadians own the energy resources in this country, and we make the rules about how they can be produced. And our rules are stringent.  We have a diverse country that does not tolerate discrimination. The public insists, through our laws, that our environment is well taken care of and that workers are treated to the highest safety standards and rights anywhere. We even require, again through law, that aboriginals are included in any decision process affecting them. These codes of conduct are every bit as high, and mandatory, for CNOOC and Kuwait Petroleum Corp. as they are for Canadian-owned firms.

This is what being an ethical oil producer is all about: It’s about Canadians, and the values we uphold in society and business. The fact that investors continue to flock to our country in increasing numbers, from all over the globe, and agree to practice standards so far above what they’re used to at home, only proves that they appreciate the value of the way we do business. Canada’s oil industry has set a tremendous example for the world in so many ways — not least the pioneering innovation developed right here to extract previously unusable oil resources from the oil sands in an economic and environmentally sustainable way. But the most striking lesson we teach international businesses every single day is how unsurpassed ethics are good for business. Our profitable, globally admired businesses are coveted by investors not despite the way they operate, but precisely because of it.

But what if these “energy resources” aren't worth what is claimed? In fact, what if they are toxic assets that no one would want to own because they threaten to destroy the planet and all other assets that exist upon that planet?

But, us hippies say, this is true. They are toxic assets. They do threaten to destroy all other assets that exist upon our planet.

The Carbon Bubble is based upon denying this truth. It won’t last. Any sensible investor who understands science can do nothing but sell Canadian Tar Sands short.

Originally posted to grains of sand on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 07:19 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  'tard words are toxic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat
    . . .as an “average” I’ll go with $100),  170 billion barrels of oil is worth ten trillion seven hundred billion dollars - $10,700,000,000,000.
    and your arithmetic isn't any better. That would be seventeen trillion dollars.
  •  When was fired discovered by the cave men? (6+ / 0-)

    100,000 years ago? Earlier?

    And we're still burning things to get from point A to point B? Burning things to power the internet? It's astounding.

    Surely we can do better than burning things, in the 21st century. Or are we just cave men using computers?

    Ooot, greet. -thumps chest and waves arms at monolith-

    I are smart because I can work a bic lighter.

    The more I think about the human race, the less impressed I am. Starting with, how can ANYONE believe that oil companies have their (the "anyone", not "the oil company") best interests at heart?

    "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

    by Timbuk3 on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 07:36:19 PM PST

    •  It's Not the Human Race; Individuals and Tradition (7+ / 0-)

      al cultures evolved to survive conditions of scarcity and extreme limitations over millions of years. Humanity is easily intelligent and wise enough to deal with what's confronting us.

      But our modern democracies and economic & philosophical systems have evolved for a thousand years under conditions of great surplus due to the opening up of new worlds, and technological advances in harvesting resources in old worlds.

      Accordingly our systems give deference to extreme concentration of wealth and income, and since energy from burning things has been so essential to our systems, the owners of those energy sources have maximal influence in our governance.

      Modern human governance is extremophile, probably no system more than the American system is counter-adapted to the future, given our Constitutional ceding of the public square to global corporations to promote their agenda against the people, humanity and the nation.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 07:50:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really do disagree (4+ / 0-)

        ...even though I rec'd your comment, that "Humanity is easily intelligent and wise enough to deal with what's confronting us."

        I invoke "the teabagger wave" of 2010 as an evidentiary reference.

        Truth is, as much as the novel book "the bell curve" is demeaned, half of us are of less than average intelligence. And we ALL vote.

        So stupid people vote in stupid representatives, right here at home. (Sorry, 'bout the "stupid", but it fits.)

        Accordingly our systems give deference to extreme concentration of wealth and income, and since energy from burning things has been so essential to our systems, the owners of those energy sources have maximal influence in our governance.
        I can't argue with that. I just wish, emphasis on WISH, it wasn't so.

        Here's a bizarre, late-night, I'm about to go to bed and HAVED had a drink thought;

        How's about we get the rednecks all fired up to exerciser their second amendment rights against the oil companies that are holding them hostage by running up the national debut using our army to secure their oil rights.

        Please keep in mind, I admit I had "a drink or two"...

        "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

        by Timbuk3 on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 08:20:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My Point is It's Not Only Intelligence but the (3+ / 0-)

          systems we live in.

          Press freedom for example is the forbidding of society from civilizing the public square. There will come a time when this will be regarded as a questionable approach to ensuring a sufficiently, pertinently informed electorate.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:02:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Evolution has forged our physiology and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies, Timbuk3, Words In Action

        survival strategies. Evolution works very slowly. Our brains evolved their large prefrontal cortex over several hundred thousand years. It was an amazing increase in weight and energy devoted to a jellied mass of neurons - from about 500 grams to 1400 grams.

        Our physiologies and brains are pretty much the same as they have been for at least a hundred thousand years. But we've crammed them into this johnny-come-lately civilization that they aren't evolved to handle. We are at a very awkward and destructive stage in evolution. In another hundred thousand years - if we're still around - we might have evolved to be better neighbors to our fellow residents of planet earth and actually possess some wisdom. If we're still around.

        muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

        by veritas curat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:45:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I read a piece a few weeks ago where the premise (0+ / 0-)

          was that the man of about 3000 years ago was the most highly developed human being from an evolutionary standpoint.

          Since then we have gotten soft not trying to reinvent the wheel and missing out on all of those life and death decisions that the wilds gave us.

          Super shortly paraphrased, and far too simply, but I thought it was pretty awesome. ;-)

          Peace~

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:57:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Pleistocene hunter gatherers pretending to be (5+ / 0-)

      civilized.

      muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

      by veritas curat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 08:04:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Burners vs builders - that's the choice. (0+ / 0-)

      We either burn things for our energy or build things. I want to be a builder, not a burner.  

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:54:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need to leave the tar sands in the ground (5+ / 0-)

    There is enough carbon in the Tar sands to ensure that the climate will be destroyed for human habitation
    The XL pipeline must not be built to for it will free this mass of carbon to destroy us all

    2012 was the hottest year ever.....
     You are already seeing the changes  
     - the unusually warm summers and winters
     - the ever more violent powerful storms
     - the vast dying of pine trees in the Rockies
     - the drought in Texas
     - Australia on fire

    Climate change is an espress train racing towards us.
      We cannot step off the tracks
      All we can do is slow the train a little and hope the collision is lessened

    We are running out of time to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
     Ocean acidification is real...
     The coral reefs are dying
      Continued release of CO2 will activate irreversible positive feedback loops
      - release of methane from permafrost thaw
      - release of methane trapped in coastal waters as they warm
      Once initiated we will not be able to stop them....
      .....the topical rainforests and their incredible biodiversity will burn
      ........(Look again at the photos from Australia.)
      .....the ice in Greenland and in Antarctica will melt.... ocean waters will rise..
      .....NYC, Florida, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and many more will be flooded
      .... forever

    We need to deploy renewable energy sources as a national emergency priority
      We need to phase out our use of carbon based fuels ASAP

    We need to do this to give our children a chance
      Please look at both of these petitions.
      Both deserve your signature.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/...

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/...

    Please sign these petitions
      Thanks
      Barry Allen

  •  Divest NOW--don't be left holding the bag n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat, Words In Action

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:50:34 AM PST

    •  YES! There is an anti-apatheid-style shit-storm (0+ / 0-)

      headed the way of the fossil-fuel industry.

      It's not a question of if those stocks will be de-vauled. It's just a matter of when.

      www.350.org

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:01:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You must be joking, right? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alphorn

    While those assets may be "toxic" environmentally speaking, they have nowhere to go but UP in value.

    "Supply and demand" - Google that

    Perhaps if we made a discovery tomorrow that allowed for cheap fusion energy, the value of oil might dramatically change.

    Other than that, oil is with us for many decades to come and will only become more valuable.

    •  Yes, of course, supply and demand, but . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      veritas curat, Words In Action

      ‘Supply and demand' appear often in my writing.  They don't apply in a bubble.  

      If an investment manager in the British Prime Minister's business advisory group warns of risk, your quarrel would be with him, not me or the diarist, to be clear.
      How did he reach his conclusion?  Is it valid?  The diarist summarized the reasoning and 'supply and demand' isn't enough to be dismissive.

      The pricing of crude isn't based solely on 'supply and demand' today, anyway.  There's a complex of factors that determine price per barrel.  The diary hints at some of the realities setting prices today in the wide variance between West Texas and Brent.   The consumer classes should be skeptical about 'supply and demand' when it was only six or seven months ago that the price per gallon of gas at the pump in the US was supposed to sink President Obama's chance of reelection.  What happened with ‘supply and demand’ since then to explain the change in price?

      As oil becomes scarce it’s automatically assumed that it will become more valuable.   The value of tar sands in the remote northern part of Canada depends on transporting product to the market.  At $100 per barrel, the cost of refining it into the finished product that Americans buy at the pump is prohibitive. Investors would be wise to work their way through all of the assumptions that are used to assign any value to Canadian tar sands today before risking assets.

      And one more thing.  Ethics.

      "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

      by leftreborn on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:31:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But it is apparently not prohibitive at all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alphorn

        at the current prices.. they are drilling like gangbusters.

        While I agree that the profit in a barrel of tar sands oil is ridiculously low compared to a barrel of Arabian oil, the companies investing in it have a pretty good idea what the profit margins are at $xx dollars per barrel market prices.

        As prices go down, they simply shut down wells.. if they can recoup their initial capital investments now while the prices are fairly high, they can operate these wells as long as it is profitable.  As soon as proces go down, they lay off the workers and shut down the well til prices go back up.

        Y'all seem to think the people making these investments are idiots or something... wishful thinking maybe?

        and ethics?  huh?

        •  People making these investments aren't factoring (0+ / 0-)

          the changing public attitudes about Climate Reality, its impact on the planet and, oh, people, and, hence, fossil fuels.

          Before this decade is out, the economic impact on markets will be so great that the pressures on current energy policies will be overwhelming.

          This year alone, there will be changes. And each year from here on out.

          But go ahead and invest in the destruction of the planet.

          I'm not surprised you question the value of ethics, because you clearly lack them, but this won't even be decided on the basis of ethics. That's not where the pressure will be coming from.

          With fellow Democrats like you, who needs denier Republicans?

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:35:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This commenter is being followed by the spinning (0+ / 0-)

            vase of doom. Just so you know.

            (Didn't rec this comment (recced all your others) because it's getting a little personal. You made some very good points, though.)

            muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

            by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:42:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I see Bon Temps point, and I believe it. I hope (0+ / 0-)

            that your point will be the path we take, but I'm not so sure.

            There's not just profit here, at this point in history - Peak Oil - we are just getting to experience the exponential profits that the Oil cartels have been pinballing into place.

            The power and profits from the exponential returns are really hard to pass up.

            Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

            by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:03:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Crude is refined into a variety of finished (0+ / 0-)

          products.  Tar sands crude that comes out of the ground is a vastly different product than light sweet crude.  Tar sands crude is 'dirty' and it requires a more intensive degree of processing and refinement than light sweet crude would need to make the same finished product.

          Some finished products need more refinement than others.  Automobile gasoline sold at the pump in the US requires a great degree of refinement.  That's why tar sands crude isn't suitable for it.  The economics to make it profitable only work with a much higher price per gallon at the pump, or a much lower price per barrel of crude.  

          Instead of gasoline, tar sands crude is refined into diesel.  It doesn't need as much refining. The market for diesel in the US doesn't demand as much as the industry can produce.  The oversupply goes to Europe from the Texas Gulf Coast.  The auto industry there has been converting from conventional gasoline engines to diesel and the demand for diesel is great and growing.  The US is an exporter of diesel.  

          The glut of tar sands crude through US pipelines and into US refineries has been pushing out West Texas crude because there isn't enough capacity in the system.   The market prices West Texas down because of the perceived inability to bring it to market.  

          "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

          by leftreborn on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:39:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Reborn how? (0+ / 0-)

        As a denier enabler?

        Left how?

        As a supporter of Right-wing energy policy.

        Anyone who knowingly and willingly has their money in fossil fuels is by definition disqualified from the left.

        What you fail to factor is the growing belief and concern with Climate Reality, and the impact this will on have energy policy and consumption of all kinds. Only the most selfish pigs will remain unaffected.

        The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

        by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:38:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My argument is in agreement with the diary. Did (0+ / 0-)

          you make a mistake, misunderstand, or do I need to explain it.  You rec'd my comment so I think you replied to me when you meant someone else.

          "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

          by leftreborn on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:54:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No joke. Investors try to avoid risk. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      In seeking to minimize risk and maximize return large investors tend to do lots of research. The fact that climate change is showing up in this research shouldn't be surprising. Here's from the Carbon Tracker's report "Unburnable Carbon- Are the World's Financial Markets Carrying a Carbon Bubble?"

      Our report shows that fossil fuels appear to be overcapitalised. The capital markets have financed future fossil fuel development based on a false assumption: that what the corporate sector have asked investors to finance can actually be burnt. We believe this poses a large and currently unappreciated risk for the capital markets.

      muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

      by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:52:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  pure silliness (0+ / 0-)

        We will be burning carbon for decades...  and their investments will be paid back in a few years.

        •  With your help, of course. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Truedelphi

          Casually embracing pain and suffering for billions of people.

          You sound exactly like the conservative deniers I debate with on the Salt Lake Tribune.

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:31:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for adding some reality (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bon Temps

      into the discussion, Bon Temps.  Yes, the oil sands are toxic, and so is  conventional oil and coal, fracking is destructive, and nuclear power is dangerous as well.  The prosperity of our whole society is based on cheap energy, and I don't think that people are willing to accept a massive -  really massive - downgrade of our standard of living in order to wean ourselves off of cheap carbon energy.  Wind and solar power aren't going to power society as we know it, folks.  That doesn't mean that we give a pass to the oil companies, in fact we need to kick some ass when they deserve it, but it will be very cold and very dark without their products.  

      The people who work and invest in oil sands aren't fools, and they aren't villains either.  I live in Calgary and they are my neighbors.  Yes, we should develop alternative energy, we should conserve what we use, we should approach the whole issue with passion and intelligence, but one-sided diaries like this and the comments herein aren't going to solve anything.

      Okay, flame on!

      God is innocent: Noah built on a flood plain.

      by alphorn on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:12:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well said.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alphorn

        While I hate to be always playing the devil's advocate, somebody needs to say this stuff once in a while.

        We will never be totally off oil.  As it is now, 70% of oil is used in transportation.  That still leaves a helluva lot of oil used for other purposes.

        Electric cars are still a pipe dream.  They are currently only a novelty for the rich or those that drive extremely limited distances.  Battery technology just has not delivered on the promises made by researchers.  I expect this will improve, but how soon?

        Last - the focus on oil is misguided to begin with.  The easiest polluter to replace is coal plants.  Coal plants are humongous contributors to CO2 and other pollutants.

        As a matter of fact, since natural gas has become so cheap, many coal plants are being refitted to use natural gas.  This has resulted in CO2 from electricity production being the lowest in 20 years!  How low could we get if we simply replaced all the really dirty coal plants with natural gas right away?  Probably way below Kyoto goals.

        but it will be very cold and very dark without their products.  
        Indeed it would.  And folks sitting in the dark and freezing in winter would find their "ethics" on the subject has changed a bit.
        •  We don't have to be completely off oil, but we (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          veritas curat

          do have to limit ourselves to burning less than 1/5 of the proven oil reserves currently on the books of oil companies if we want avoid whizzing past 2 degrees C, the limit the vast majority of climate scientists, including the National Academy of Science, feel is "safe", in the relative sense that even what we are encountering now is "safe".

          folks sitting in the dark and freezing in winter would find their "ethics" on the subject has changed a bit.
          People sitting on a planet hurtling toward human inhabitabity, such as YOU, should be changing YOUR ethics.

          The future you so cavalierly embrace without a fight will drive us towards the 4.5-7 degree F range by the end of the century, which will result in hundreds of millions of death and billions of refugees, as well as endless war, starting in the not-so-distan-future.

          You are as much of a menace as any denier, because you gladly enable the deniers.

          p.s., Natural Gas still emits greenhouse gases and screws up fresh groundwater which, oh, btw, is also scheduled to be depleted by 2040...

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:29:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Climate scientists are continually blowing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alphorn

            their predictions.

            I fully agree we need to limit carbon output, but as far as predictions of 2 degrees C, the predictions have over and over again been downgraded.

            The UK's MET Office is the latest to do so.  Yesterday's Headline:

            Met Office admits Earth's temperature is rising slower than first thought

               Earlier forecasts predicted a much steeper rise in global temperatures
                But latest figures from Met Office show slower rise than previously warned
                Figures raise questions about the true danger posed by greenhouse gasses
            The Met Office has admitted that global warming has stalled.

            Officials say that by 2017, temperatures will not have risen significantly for nearly 20 years.

            They concede that previous forecasts were inaccurate – and have come under fire for attempting to ‘bury bad news’ by publishing the revised data on Christmas Eve.

            So, let's do all we can in a sensible way, instead of giving in to hysterics, ok?
            •  This is not credible. Denialism. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              k9disc

              We are approaching Niagara Falls. Arguing about the existence of the Falls does nothing but cause harm to the efforts to pull the boat to shore.

              muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

              by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:34:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Those are the same claims the right-wing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              veritas curat

              deniers point to: "Officials say that by 2017, temperatures will not have risen significantly for nearly 20 years."

              Obviously, you are not listening to the 97% of scientists, including the National Academy of Sciences, which says otherwise.

              Perhaps you missed the climate just this pass year, for example?

              Perhaps you aren't aware that it has been 27 years since any single monthly temp average was below the historical average...?

              Perhaps you're unfamiliar with what's happening to ice melt on both poles, Greenland and every glacier on the planet?

              Perhaps you are unaware of ocean temp increases and the acidification that is, among other things, killing coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, which will be dead in 20 years?

              Really?

              The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

              by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:35:36 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's disappointing to see this kind of denialism. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Words In Action

                I wonder what it is they are defending. I think it's something like this:

                It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

                - Upton Sinclair

                The power of money to distort human thought is enormous. That's kind of what the whole diary was about. Nice to see a little illustration here in the comments.

                muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

                by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:44:25 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  BINGO. (0+ / 0-)

                  It's either the career, the portfolio, the lifestyle or some combination of three. He refuses to face the Climate Reality, lest he feel obligated to make substantive changes quickly.

                  The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

                  by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:57:04 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Links please? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alphorn

                I didn't make that shit up.. it's UK's Met office, for cripes sakes.. it's run by the guy who created the IPCC.

                So, please.. stop this "you are unfamiliar"..

                The UK Met office is one of the premier climate research institutions on the planet.  Are you saying they are wrong and disagreeing with 97% of climatologists?  If so, please provide me the latest links where all these scientists are refuting the UK's Met office latest findings.

                •  Hackery from David Rose of the Daily Mail. Link: (0+ / 0-)

                  http://earthsky.org/...

                  Quote:

                  On October 13, 2012, the Daily Mail posted an article crediting the UK Met Office with saying that global warming stopped 16 years ago. The article went viral this week. One day later, however, the UK Met Office disavowed the Daily Mail article, saying it did not say global warming had stopped and was not contacted by the article’s author. According to the UK Met Office and tens of thousands of other scientists worldwide, global temperatures are still rising.
                  Please stop wasting my time with this crap.

                  muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

                  by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:54:47 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Where did you get this 70& is used (0+ / 0-)

          for transportation statistic?

          One thing the experts don't point out is that before the stats get computed, some two thirds of all the oil available to the USA goes off to the damn military. We just have to have those troops transferred here and there - have to have the war games, the fighters in the skies, etc. Plus the efforts in Afghanistan and now places like Libya, Egypt, and other spots in the Middle East.

          Then when a person adds in all the weaponry systems we have produced, Wowie - there's a lot of carbon burned up just to keep the military happy with some new war toys.

          Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

          by Truedelphi on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:36:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  What part of "if we burn the oil in the tar (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        veritas curat, k9disc

        sands, it's game over for the planet" don't you understand.

        Not only ARE they fools, but you are, as well, for glibly embracing this future.

        The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

        by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:21:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If the word "risk" is to have any meaning at all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Words In Action

          I would tend to think the possibility of destroying our planetary ecosphere can be nothing other than risky. And it is clear that many investors are paying attention to this risk. Investors don't like risk.

          Oil companies are risky investments. More and more people are realizing this.  

          muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

          by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:30:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If the Pentagon and the insurance industry are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            veritas curat

            on to it, how long before Wall Street connects the dots?

            The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

            by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:40:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  They aren't "villains" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        veritas curat

        by investing against the planet, humanity, YOUR loved ones?

        If that isn't a definition of a villain, what is?

        You better hope Calgary/Texas is shut down long before the reserves are extracted and burned, because that's what needs to happen of we aren't going to prevent a global catastrophe of pain and suffering.

        If you aren't personally working on serious ways to substantially reduce your carbon footprint as well as anyone you can influence, and you aren't working to reduce fossil fuel use as much as possible as quickly as possible, then you really are still part of the problem.

        Promoting fossil fuel use is not part of the solution.

        Instead, you ought to be promoting the anti-apatheid style program for fossil fuel security divestiture.

        Please, get on board with Climate Reality.

        The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

        by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:08:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We don't need a massive downgrade (0+ / 0-)

        In our standard of living.

        If city dwellers in Chicago can use solar panels and the new, smaller wind turbines to eliminate the need for burning carbon, than why is that not happening everywhere? (Those wind turbines easily fit on top of a home's roof, and look no more obtrusive that attic fans do.) And Germany is dedicated to getting solar to replace its nuclear power.

        If we had people governing this nation who were every  bit as excited and dedicated about getting all of us off the grid rather than the excitement the last two Presidential Admins, i.e. Bush and Obama, have had to keep the USA  involved in fighting wars, we would see some progress.

        Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

        by Truedelphi on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:32:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Big numbers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat

    Most folks have a hard time getting their brain around numbers this large.  We tend to lose our powers of visualization at 1 million or so.

    Let me help 17 trillion is 17 million, millions.

    How about this:  A fresh US currency note is .005" thick - that's 5/1000 of an inch; 200 bills to make an inch thick wad worth $20,000.

    A stack of $100 bills equal to 17 trillion dollars would be about 13,400 MILES high.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:50:07 AM PST

  •  i find this mildly laughable (0+ / 0-)


    considering the war in Iraq - which was a war over access to oil, and the worldwide struggle to nail down oil resources, that the idea of simply 'say no to tar sands oil' is somehow going to raise a blip on any radar.

    the United States is doing its level best to open up the environmentally fragile Arctic Wildlife refuge to drilling, which has led to the near-disaster of the Kulluk drilling platform.  The Athabasca tar sands are Canadian territory and just as vulnerable to exploitation as the US/Alaska arctic, or the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

    Of all of the oil and gas exploration going on across the planet today, the tar sands operations produce the least environmental impact.  Note I didn't say "no" environmental impact.

    But is this worse than drilling in the arctic, or the risk of another Deepwater Horizon?  seriously?

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:14:53 AM PST

    •  If all we do is say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      veritas curat

      'no to tar sands oil', you're right. We actually to stop it as well as prevent 4/5 of all the proven oil reserves currently on the balance sheets of oil companies.

      No small task.

      Considering the alternatives, we can't not try to stop it.

      At present, there is a significant anti-apartheid-style oil securities divestiture program gearing up, starting with universities. There is also a vigil tomorrow night at the White House and a large March/Rally scheduled for D.C. on 2/17. This activity is only going to grow from here on out as more and more people continue to experience Climate Reality. Our job is push them up the curve.

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

      by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:13:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In addition to opposing the delivery (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat, k9disc

    of "synthetic Canadian crude oil" to Houston via the Keystone Pipeline extension, we have to stop burning coal to produce electricity. According to a Canadian source quoted in Wikipedia, "electricity plants powered by coal in the U.S. generate almost 40 times more greenhouse-gas emissions than Canada's oil sands (the coal-fired electricity plants in the State of Wisconsin alone produce the equivalent of the entire GHG emissions of the oil sands)." Link

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:47:28 AM PST

  •  Two issues with this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat

    First, one of the issues is that this oil is extremely expensive to produce, especially compared to what the wells in the Middle East are currently running at. According to the Ever Accurate Wikipedia, extraction and refining costs are about $40/barrel, so the actual profit is only about 60% of what you list; this is still a large number.

    In my opinion, the far more salient issue with this oil is the geopolitical ease of access for the Western world. There is no need to prop up a historically corrupt regime as there is in much of the producing world, and there is no need to work hard on exploration, since we know where it is. You don't need to work on deep-sea platforms to get at it, etc. All of this makes this particular source of oil much more dependable than much of the current stocks, so I suspect if anything is going to be part of a bubble it's the (literally and figuratively) more volatile sources elsewhere.

    So, I agree that you raise an excellent point at the start of the diary about the money to be made but I'm not sure that the notion of a fossil fuel bubble is as sound.

    •  Profit is not the same as monetary value of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, artmartin

      reserves. Of course the profit will be much less - still a staggering amount in the trillions - if all this oil gets to the market. And that's the tricky part - getting it to the market and selling it.

      Bubbles don't follow conventional economic wisdom - they tend to leave Very Serious People who talk about inevitable trends sputtering high and dry. Contrary and chaotic movements in prices happen in bubbles.

      Yes, the conventional wisdom says that we will never stop consuming oil and that all reserves will be burned - that's what the stock prices of oil companies are based upon. There is a risk, however, that certain, minor contrary realities - like the uninhabitability of an earth wherein all these reserves were burned - might begin to insinuate themselves into the risk analyses of investors.

      Oil was $10.72 per barrel in 1998. The price has increased ten-fold since then. Is it possible that increasing risk from what all reputable scientists are telling us might not influence that price? These are questions that shouldn't be dismissed with assumptions of the inevitability of constantly rising prices.

      muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

      by veritas curat on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:06:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think this is same words meaning diff. things (0+ / 0-)

        I thought the point of this diary was that there are investors who have carbon-based fuel assets that are expected to go up in value forever, but that the price of them might crash because they are in a bubble.

        For that discussion to be interesting, you have to look at the presumed value to the investor of the asset, which is always going to be the amount they can sell it for minus the amount they paid for it. Knowing the sales price of the oil isn't very helpful without knowing how much it cost to acquire the oil in the first place. If I offer to sell you oil that you can resell for $100, and I give you the option to pay me either $1 or $40 for it you clearly see that one offer is more valuable than the other. If you only give me the choice of paying $110 for the oil it's clearly worthless and I won't buy it. Hence, the value of the oil to anybody clearly depends on how much it costs to turn into a marketable item, not just the raw amount you can sell it for.

        It may well be that carbon-based fuel sources become worth much less some day when we conclude they are destroying the planet, but I don't know that you can really call that a bubble, which implies people paying more for something than it is currently worth. Based on current world attitudes it's hard to imagine that burning fossil fuels will become strongly discouraged anytime soon, and if/when it does I'd argue that the asset is worth less due to a drop in demand rather than due to any speculative bubble.

        •  But it is over-priced because (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          veritas curat

          we can't burn it all and more and more people are coming around to Climate Reality with each storm that affects them and their loved ones, whether economically or medically or both. Increasingly, markets will be disrupted. This won't be going away.

          At the same time, www.350.org has begun a campaign along the lines of the South Africa divesture attack on apartheid, which is growing as we speak. There will be more rallys and actions every year from here on out.

          When the economy gets hit hard enough, public attitudes will change and with them public and private institutions will change. That's what we have to work towards...

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:26:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder if Stephen Harper knows much about (0+ / 0-)

    Chapter 11 of NAFTA. Seems like a great political tool, that Harper guy...

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:51:17 PM PST

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