#ForwardOnClimate Support in Regina: Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

Stephen McDavid interviewed by CBC/SRC about climate change action:

Stephen explains that the pipeline is a line in the sand. Using it, is crossing that line. I’ll explain why there is a line, further on in this post.

I was also interviewed. The CBC reporter was pleased to learn from me (off camera) that there is a car share co-op in Regina.

I know some people don’t see the big deal with the Keystone XL pipeline, thinking it’s just another way that people can make money. It’s more like a doomsday device, than economic stimulus. Taking into account the truth that burning all of the bitumen in the Alberta tar sands will create enough carbon dioxide to push climate change past +2 degrees Celsius, a pipe intended to be used for that purpose will be seen as a crime against humanity by most people within a few short generations of now. Already, some people understand it to be that.

To meet a halfway reasonable carbon budget in our atmosphere, there’s no good use for the Keystone XL pipeline. To have to shut it down, and clean it up later in order to correct the error today in building it, is a huge folly that Obama can stop.

It’s widely accepted by people that our daily lives cause pollution, and it’s a sort of price we pay for progress. More people need to question what sort of progress we’re striving for as a species. It’s not like we’re trying to stop 7-Eleven from selling drinks that cause diabetes and obesity and kills a few thousand humans indirectly; we’re trying to stop investment in a technology whose use is known to cause so much pollution as to create catastrophic changes to our atmosphere, and will hasten the extinction of countless species and displacement of countless people. It’s a very, very big deal, and that the Harper government in Ottawa sees fit to label peaceful protesters as “adversaries”, “enemies of the state”, and “terrorists”, is in itself terrifying.

Here are the numbers behind why we must not burn all of the fossil fuel we are technologically capable of extracting with today’s technology.

First of all, let’s assume that we don’t burn any of the unconventional fossil fuels that are on the US side of the border, because, after all, we’re not that stupid. So we’re just talking about the Canadian reserves, the ones that might be headed down the Keystone XL pipeline. Each barrel of oil-sands crude contains about .88 tonnes of CO2 (this is WWF’s number; it’s rough, but let’s use it anyway), so if we take just the Canadian reserves (315 billion probable barrels) that comes to 277 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. If we instead take total North American reserves, the damage comes to 980 Gigatonnes of CO2. That would blow the entire “safe” global carbon budget, all by itself. As if we weren’t well on the way to doing it anyway. Which is to say that, as Hansen put it a few years back, “squeezing oil from shale mountains is not an option that would allow our planet and its inhabitants to survive.”

I’d rather survive, and give others in the future a chance at a life close to as wonderful as I’ve had. To say nothing is wrong now, knowing what I can from these facts, would be immoral. Yes, it’s unpopular to point out that some peoples’ livelihoods today are contributing to climate destruction. I don’t hold very many individuals personally responsible for this destruction; this is a problem caused by everyone, and we need our societies to discuss what we can do to start collectively working on a grand scale in a more constructive direction.

I read this quote today, and I had to include it:

Not that I know how you change the world. I’ve more or less spent my life on the sidelines, daydreaming, drinking beer, watching sports. But it seems to me, just from what I know about Jackie Robinson and what I’ve seen from my wife, that maybe you change the world by just continuing to show up, by continuing to say to the world, Here I Am. You change the world by reaching for happiness.

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13 responses to “#ForwardOnClimate Support in Regina: Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

  1. “Here are the numbers”, from the math is hard crowd. From the post: “(this is WWF’s number; it’s rough, but let’s use it anyway)… That would blow the entire “safe” global carbon budget, all by itself.” World ‘budget’ being 2 degrees C.

    First mistake is using an advocacy groups math! Even tho’ it’s not accurate it suits your political goal.

    Secondly, there is NO SCIENTIFIC rationality of a 2 deg C limit!!!!!! It’s a POLITICAL goal, NOT SCIENTIFIC!!!!!!!

    As your own citation says… “More than 100 countries have adopted a global warming limit of 2 °C or below (relative to pre-industrial levels) as a guiding principle for mitigation efforts to reduce climate change risks…” Get it? “a guiding principle”.

    A German ‘think tank’ postulated this easy to remember number out of nothing more than convenience. It’s been a political number ever since.

    Yet to the mathematically challanged it all becomes “simple physics”.

    PS… The ethical oil sands are still being shipped, just now Obama’s crony capitalist buddy Warren Buffet is making the buku monies. See Warren invested massively in rail stock just prior to the original delay in Keystone… http://twitter.com/katewerk/status/303663951080747010/photo/1

    • Yeah, right now if a train car spills, it’s a train car’s worth. Terrible, but able to be cleaned up. You can also take it out of service by rolling it away, and rolling another into place.

      “Math is hard crowd”, means you and your denialist ilk. 2 degrees is the accepted “guiding principle” because it’s a point at which recognized drastic changes take place to life on earth. Even 1 degree will kill some unknowable number of plants and animals (while potentially assisting others in the short or unpredictable very-long term). 1.976 degrees make you feel better as a guiding principle?

      It is simple physics that there is a breaking point at which specific life forms cannot survive in their environment any longer. For instance, 0 degrees really is the freezing point of water, it’s simple physics (or chemistry, if you prefer). There are critical points in life, and they are being messed with. Your political goal is to obscure these facts, while pretending you are basing your goal on science. My political goal is to promote these facts, while using scientific facts. See, you hide and lie, and I do the opposite.

      • No, 2 degrees is a political number. As is your “1 degree… unknowable number”. See? By your OWN admission it is beyond your level of proof but within your level of belief.

        If all of these plants and animals are dying where are the bodies? Your very ‘species extinction’ arguement relies on a mathematical computer model that amplifies the species extinctions rates on tiny islands and increases those results across continental scales.

        Only problem? Continents don’t act like islands. The mathematical relationship simply does not exist. The political relationship, however, does.

        PS… interesting that you would bring up cold as a klimate killer, not globull warming.

      • “cold as a klimate killer, not globull warming”
        You are a very well rounded dunce, I have to give you credit for that. Your terrible spelling/puns shouldn’t be my main focus though, because it’s the wrong ideas they are attempting to express that really need to be discredited as the bunk that they are.

        Climate change, which includes global warming, also adjusts the freezing point and frequency with which it is reached in particular areas of Earth. You promote the wrong idea that everything warms up, so less freezing occurs. On average, around the earth, it’s true. It sure doesn’t feel like that to the plants and animals (and people) who have to deal with freezes that come at unexpected (and deadly) times.

        “amplifies the species extinctions rates on tiny islands”
        So now you admit that climate change causes extinctions? What’s okay about extinctions on tiny islands (which, by the way, do operate like continents, only we can see the changes more readily)?

        It’s not surprising you don’t understand the comment about 1.976 degrees being the breaking point for the climate. As you admit, computer models have been tested at various temperature changes to estimate their impact. Which thousandth of a degree will tip the scales? You’d rather argue that the scale would never tip, no matter how much counterweight you add to it, because a random scientist and a random politician in Europe agree that it will tip. You’re an obstinate fool, totally blinded by ideology.

        2 degrees was settled on as an easy to remember number close enough to a critical point in change that is assured to cause destruction. 2 degrees from pre-industrial levels will be reached in half of the simulations if CO(2) is allowed to reach 450ppm.


      • cold as a klimate killer, not globull warming. Answer: It doesn’t change the fact 2 degrees is a political number. Secondly you are saying that the theory of globull warming is unfalsifiable, in effect all observations irrespective of the lack of ANY predictability are proof. That is theology.

        With reference to “particular areas of Earth” you, as a devotee to the science, know that NO computer model has EVER been able to show ANY predictability on ANY regional scale. That is a pure mathematical fact.

        Part 2 ” So now you admit that climate change causes extinctions?”. No. It is a well established historical fact that predation, the introduction of cats, dogs, snakes, hunting and agricultural man but especially the introduction of RATS that have caused massive species loss on islands. Honestly, I didn’t think you needed to be told this. None-the-less this is a historic extinction rate encompassing the last 2000 years or so. (most notably the introduction of humanity to polynesia). Just a ‘scientific’ hint… tiny islands don’t act like continents, that’s one reason Australia is a continent, NOT an island. Get it now?

        [ADMIN note: I think I do now. You're a Cane toad in Australia, right?]

        As for significance of the number 1.976…? None. You have obviously never worked with numerical systems outside of a computer. There is NO significance in experimental data (nor observed either) to digits expressed as such. Especially in temperature on the scales we are discussing. A calorimic bomb would have a great deal of trouble to claim such accuracy. (as a devotee of science I don’t have to explain that to you).

        2 degrees is still political. Not science.

      • You do realize that the cane toad has been listed by the National Trust of Queensland as a state icon of Queensland, alongside the Great Barrier Reef and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Don’t you?

        Damn fine company to be with! ;)

        [ADMIN note: Your princess is in another castle.]

        PS… it could also be said (in alarmist-speak) that globull warming since 1930 has INCREASED the range of the cane toad in Australia. In essence globull warming has been beneficial! It would be a total misrepresentation of the facts. Or alarmist-speak!

    • Actually here is someone going for an actual interview for political activist for Calpirg (California’s Public Interest Group) dubya dubya dubya .youtube.com/watch?v=FJ8J2onxvk8 It pays $33,000 plus benefits and if you listen to the recruiter they actually talk about PAID right wing political activists!!!!!! Pure hypocrisy, nothing short.

      How about eco-activists paid to sue the government in ‘friendly’lawsuits? http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/02/17/epas-secret-and-costly-sue-and-settle-collusion-with-environmental-organizations/ ““Sue and Settle “ practices, sometimes referred to as “friendly lawsuits”, are cozy deals through which far-left radical environmental groups file lawsuits against federal agencies wherein court-ordered “consent decrees” are issued based upon a prearranged settlement agreement they collaboratively craft together in advance behind closed doors. Then, rather than allowing the entire process to play out, the agency being sued settles the lawsuit by agreeing to move forward with the requested action they and the litigants both want. In other words, the agency throws the case, somewhat like Bre’r Rabbit agreeing to be thrown into a favorite brier-patch. A big difference however, is that in this case, Farmer McGregor andMr. Rabbit were partners in the scam from the beginning.”

      Let’s not forget Chesapeake Energy giving $26,000,000 to the Sierra Club USA to promote gas errrrrrr, fight coal!

      How about Big Al’s $100,000,000 Qatari money?
      Mikey Mann’s $10,000 a shot speaking fee?
      Diamond Dave Suzuki’s $15,000 speaking fee?
      Every year, a sustainability summit is held in Delhi, organized by TERI, the institute of which Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC Chairman) is the Director General. Check out the sponsors!!!! BMW, World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Asian Development Bank (ADB)…… Strange bedfellows indeed. dubya dubya dubya .dsds.teriin.org/2013/index.php/sponsorship/our-partners

      Who’s making the money????

  2. If anyone is interested in the studied energy cost/carbon footprint of ethical oil sands vs traditional North American supply here it is http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42537.pdf#25 from the Congressional Research Service. It’s 31 pages long, short on technology, long on terminology and very dry. Unlike the WWF numbers that are “rough, but let’s use it anyway” these are scientific literature numbers.

    In essence here is what the report says… “Well-to-Tank (i.e.“production”) GHG emissions are, on average, 72%-111% higher for Canadian oil sands crude than for the weighted average of transportation fuels sold or distributed in the United States.
    “compared to selected imports, Canadian oil sands crudes range from 9% to 19% more emission-intensive than Middle Eastern Sour, 5% to 13% more emission-intensive than Mexican Maya, and 2% to 18% more emission-intensive than various Venezuelan crudes, on a Well-to-Wheel basis”

    It also says “The analysis found that the potential range of incremental GHG emissions contributed by the pipeline would be 3-17 MMTCO2e annually at the near-term initial throughput and 4-21 MMTCO2e annually at the potential throughput. As the United States reported a total domestic GHG inventory of 6,865.5 MMTCO2e in 2010, the incremental pipeline emissions would represent an increase of 0.06%-0.3% in total annual GHG emissions for the United States”

    Yup. In reality it means a 0.06- 0.3% increase… or total planetary annihilation for the Nellies!

    It does, however, give a very good analysis of the difficulties of comparing and quantifying GHG emissions under different fuel parameters. Well worth the read.

    • Actually Mike it’s just an assessment of the environmental impact of Keystone from the State Department. No approval has yet been given.

      Thanks for showing how little your interest in the facts is.

      Any comment on the numbers presented?

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