Let’s address the green myths that developing Canada’s oils sands will be “game over for the climate” and that the Keystone XL pipeline is the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”
The first myth stems from a May 9, 2012 New York Times column by James Hansen, the retired director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the first climate scientist to warn about the dangers of man-made global warming in 1981.
It has been widely misquoted as claiming Hansen said developing the oil sands alone would be “Game Over for the Climate”, which was the Times’ headline on Hansen’s column.
What Hansen, who certainly opposes developing the oil sands, actually said was: “If Canada proceeds and we do nothing (my emphasis) it will be game over for the climate.”
Of course, environmental activists continue to quote what Hansen said out of context, in order to falsely portray Canada’s oil sands as the largest environmental threat on Earth.
I’ll explain why that argument is nonsense in a moment but first let’s deal with claims the Keystone XL pipeline, intended to move bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast is “a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”
This phrase appears to have originated in a letter a group of 11 U.S. and Canadian environmental activists, led by American Bill McKibben of 350.org, wrote on June 23, 2011, encouraging people to engage in civil disobedience outside the White House to protest Keystone.
The letter describes Keystone as a fuse to “the biggest carbon bomb on the continent” not the “planet.”
As Reuters reported on June 27, 2011, after a series of stinging defeats in the U.S. Congress on climate change: “McKibben and his allies figure the $7 billion Keystone XL — which was barely on their environmental radar screen a year ago — could be a galvanizer because the 1,702-mile underground pipeline would be a ‘fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet’.”
In other words, Keystone was deliberately chosen by environmentalists as a symbol of green hysteria, built on equally hysterical rhetoric.
As for the oil sands, Canadian climate scientists Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart, published in February, 2012 a peer-reviewed paper in Nature Climate Change in which they, “undertook to measure the likely impact of oil sands development upon world climate.”
Weaver and Swart concluded developing the economically viable portion of the oil sands would raise global temperatures by a mere 0.03 degrees C.
Add in the commercially uneconomic portion of the oil sands and the increase would be only 0.36 degrees C.
Burn all of the world’s oil and the increase would still be under 1 degree C.
But burn all the world’s coal and the increase is 14.8 degrees C.
It’s coal, which America uses to produce almost 40% of its electricity, China 80% and India 70%, compared to under 11% in Canada.
But don’t tell that to hysterical oil sands protesters and politicians.
Reality confuses them.
(source: Toronto Sun – Lorrie Goldstein-unedited)