The only planet in the universe, that we know of, capable of supporting intelligent life is in a deep crises. I use the word "intelligent" with great reluctance. No other species that I'm aware of makes it's nest uninhabitable while it needs it for it's own survival.
We should all be able to agree that we are running out of time and we need to take action NOW! But we environmentalists have a big disagreement about where to put our limited resources in order to save the planet. This disagreement has been laid bare in an article by Fareed Zakaria and a response by Adam Greenberg.
Below the fold are excerpts from both, and my responses.
Back on March 7, Mr. Zakaria penned an article in Time called Build That Pipeline!
One way to think about the keystone project–the 2,000-mile (3,220 km) pipeline that would bring oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico–is to ask what would happen if it is never built. The U.S. Department of State released an extremely thorough report that tries to answer this question. It concludes, basically, that the oil derived from Canadian tar sands will be developed at about the same pace whether or not there is a pipeline to the U.S. In other words, stopping Keystone might make us feel good, but it wouldn’t really do anything about climate change.The article is short, and I urge you to read it in it's entirety. I posted some points I happen to agree with but there are other points I disagree with.
Environmental groups are approaching this project much as the U.S. government fights the war on drugs. They are attacking supply rather than demand. In this case, environmentalists have chosen one particular source of energy–Alberta’s tar sands–and are trying to shut it down. But as long as there is demand for oil, there will be supply. A far more effective solution would be to try to moderate demand by putting in place a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. Ideally we would use the proceeds to fund research on alternative energy.
From Adam Greenberg, debunking Fareed Zakaria on Keystone.
Lately, we've seen one misleading and fallacious pro-Keystone XL article after another. One such recent piece in TIME magazine was, unfortunately, penned by none other than Fareed Zakaria.I have to admit that I have some real problems with the way Mr. Greenberg chose to write this article. He sets up a series of strawmen and lumps Mr. Zakaria's arguments in with them. And the comparison of support for KXL with slavery because of the "someone else will" argument, is so absurd that it has no business being in a legitimate debate.
The title itself is misleading: "Reducing our dependence on oil will do far more to slow climate change than blocking the Keystone Project."
Fact Check (again!): The Keystone XL pipeline will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil nor "substantially influence" our energy security, as even the State Department's inadequate Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) points out.
Mr. Zakaria also writes, "One way to think about the Keystone project... is to ask what would happen if it is never built," suggesting that if we don't build it, somebody else will. Of all the arguments for supporting Keystone, this is surely the most naive.
Furthermore, the very idea that if we don't do it, somebody else will, is a particularly dangerous false dichotomy. I've read similar arguments (espoused before my time) defending slavery, which was once viewed as the only practical way to harvest cotton.
But let's do more than that. Let's reexamine our arguments, and even reconstruct the way we think about these problems, to make sure that they are compatible with the science of today and a livable future on planet Earth.
Mr Greenberg does not do the environmental community any good with his misleading approach. There are plenty of good reasons to support the fight against KXL and there are plenty of good reasons to support a different approach to saving the planet. We NEED to have this discussion, but it has to be reasonable and fact based, and without the strawmen and misleading accusations.
I have to agree with Mr. Zakaria on several points. The oil Oligarchs that gave us fracking/horizontal drilling, deep sea drilling in water over a mile deep, who built pipelines across Alaska's arctic tundra... are absolutely going to get that tar sands oil to a market, as long as there is a profit to be made. After we put the huge effort into blocking KXL, will we then need to put another huge effort into fighting the dozens of mile long trains crossing the Canadian border every day delivering that oil to refineries at the Gulf? And then how about the fight to block off shore drilling, and then ANWAR drilling, and arctic drilling, and more fracking all over the U.S....
I've been fighting environmental battles for more than 40 years, we win some and we lose some. The problem with Global Warming is, our losses are permanent, and our victories are temporary. If the president stops KXL, the Oligarchs will sink a ton of money into Republican senatorial campaigns and use high gas prices and high unemployment, even though neither is related to KXL, as a club against Dem senate candidates and we will lose the senate in 2014, and we'll be having this same fight all over again in a few years.
The only way to stop Global Warming now, is to make Alternative energy cheaper than fossil fuels. Wind and Solar are already more economical than coal for producing electricity. And tar sand oils are especially expensive.
I think President Obama should approve KXL, ONLY! ONLY! ONLY! in trade for something BIG! The Republicans take hostages all the time and every time they come up with victory. KXL should be our hostage. You want KXL, then we do away with the 10's of billions of dollars of subsidies for fossil fuels. Or how about a pipeline tax, which would basically be a carbon tax in disguise, where all the money goes to ALT-E transportation research and subsidies. This would also set a precedent for a putting a new tax on all future big fossil fuel projects.
So lets not demonize different approaches to saving the planet from Global Warming, we don't have time for that. But we have to use our very limited resources wisely, and we need to have a reasonable discussion about how to do it.