Rebranding the Tar Sands

Reluctant as I normally am to say kind words about Ezra Levant, I have to admit that his campaign to re-brand the Alberta oil sands from what environmental activists in the United States had lately taken to calling “dirty oil” into “ethical oil” is nothing short of an absolutely brilliant marketing idea.

As presented, the argument is a powerful one… After all, who could dispute that Saudi Arabia is a thoroughly nasty, intolerant, repressive, autocratic regime? By polar contrast, Canada is, as Levant likes to say, “the boy scout of the world” – a veritable exemplar of modern, secular, pluralistic, liberal values, and so on.

I realize that it’s a simplistic formulation (compromised to a degree by the fact that Canada presently imports about half of oil for its own domestic consumption from offshore – the bulk of which comes from dictatorial OPEC nations whose “ethical” nature is dubious), but unless one is adamantly opposed to oil as an energy source regardless of origin, then branding our frozen bitumen sludge as the preferred “fair trade” choice of consumers is… genius!

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65 Comments

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65 responses to “Rebranding the Tar Sands

  1. Rotterdam

    I understand the Saudi’s are upset…………..Good.

  2. uu4077

    And .. of course … the same companies developing the tar sands in Alberta do not, in any way, benefit from Saudi oil.

  3. philosoraptor

    a veritable exemplar of modern, secular, pluralistic, liberal values, and so on

    Wait a minute…aren’t most of these xamples of the things Ezra et al. hate about Canada?

  4. jkg

    I just have one question: Did the people behind ethical oil all of a sudden forgot that oil fungible?

  5. Dave: LOL Yes… I was going to include that highly ironic observation in the post, but decided against it. To hear Ezra (and other Sun “News” pundits) extol homosexuality as a kind of “virtue” in this regard is truly a wonder of spin.

  6. JKG: I’m sure they’re aware of that. In the same way that they’re probably aware that the average American consumer is massively ignorant when it comes to where their oil is actually sourced from. I suspect the aim was really more to provide some political cover for U.S. lawmakers supportive of the tar sands and to defuse the environmental arguments of those potentially opposed to expansion of supply via pipelines to U.S. refineries.

  7. LMA

    The real ethical question with respect to the Tar Sands is climate change. Do Canadians believe it is acceptable to become an energy superpower by producing and marketing a product which will globally accelerate the misery of climate change? Of course, if we can manage to avoid dealing with the whole subject of climate change as our government appears intent on doing, then I guess the ethical oil campaign might make sense.

  8. CWTF

    Oil has no “ethics”. But of course of HarperCons would like think of stuff like “Ethical Rape” if it somehow justified their beliefs.

  9. Peter

    LMA:

    So, if the real ethical issue is climate change, does that make Saudi oil more “ethical” than Canadian?

  10. tofkw

    “So, if the real ethical issue is climate change, does that make Saudi oil more “ethical” than Canadian?”

    Since it takes 1/3rd the carbon to produce Saudi crude, from a pollution and energy efficiency perspective… YES!

  11. Not to sound like a shill for the industry or anything, but there’s some dispute about the carbon footprint of tar sands oil if you account for all factors involved in what they call “well to wheel”… By that metric, oil rendered from tar sands is only marginally more carbon intensive than conventional sources.

  12. Peter

    tofkw

    Ah, but Canadian women have 300% more legal rights than Saudi women and Canadian oil workers have 175% more protection under employment law.

    It was a trick question. The debate is incoherent nonsense.

  13. Lars

    One is forced to wonder if Levant and his fellow travellers have considered the corrosive effects upon the politics of any state in which the petroleum industry is a major player.

    On second thoughts, I guess that one doesn’t have to wonder at all.

  14. If by “corrosive” you mean the ability of the petroleum industry to influence politics, then how would it be different from any other economically powerful special interest group?

  15. trainman

    “So, if the real ethical issue is climate change, does that make Saudi oil more “ethical” than Canadian?”

    The real ethical issue is not climate change, the real ethical issue is putting food in people’s mouths. Since it takes 3 kJ of energy to produce 1 kJ of food (on average, for beef it’s about 30:1) the real concern should be how do we feed all 7 Billion of us. http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/energy/ http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info:doi/10.1289/ehp.02110445#r52

    Some studies suggest that to accomplish the elimination of cheap fossil fuels, as a planet we’d have to be willing to shed about 4 Billion in population. I’m guessing that no matter how batshit crazy environmentalists may be, they will never support a culling of the human population in order to accomplish such a vast reduction in fossil fuels.

    I have to chuckle when I see (what I can only assume are) lefties suggesting that climate change trump human rights–you’ve gotta love those kinds of priorities.

    BTW, when Ezra and his buddies draw attention to the massive void of liberal values in Saudi, they aren’t doing so because they support those ideas necessarily, they’re pointing out to the left, that to extol liberal values and then slam the Oil Sands is a complete double standard.

  16. Lars

    RT, I live in Alberta, so the effect of the Oil Patch on politics is a lot more on my mind than would be, say, the effect of Big Lumber might be. And I was thinking of the effect of the oil and gas industry on such North American polities as Texas or Louisiana. Possible Big Coal in the Appalachians has had such an invidious effect, but I can’t offhand think of any other such large industry which corrupts the system by essentially allowing the ruling party to buy off the electorate and entrench itself, at least not in the developed world. If you’ve got any counterexamples, I’d be glad to hear of them. And what I was trying to say was that I think that Levant and his buddies would be perfectly happy to see Canada become a petroleum oligarchy.

    And trainman, what environmentalists are saying is that climate change trumps economics. Agricultural disruption due to changes in precipitation and temperature are going to seriously fuck up our efforts to feed the world’s population just as it swells to numbers which would be hard to feed even if the climate remained as it was in the mid-20th. Posturing about how much more you care about feeding the world’s hungry billions doesn’t change this and it doesn’t invalidate environmentalists’ concerns. Neither does choosing to misinterpret them so that you get to shine a bit.

  17. Lars: I can’t offhand think of any other such large industry which corrupts the system by essentially allowing the ruling party to buy off the electorate and entrench itself…

    Agri-business conglomerates come to mind. Look at the sway that industry holds in the midwestern states of the USA, and most particularly the influence exercised over the witless electorate in Iowa. Ethanol subsidies are a heinous waste of taxpayer dollars.

  18. Trainman: …they’re pointing out to the left, that to extol liberal values and then slam the Oil Sands is a complete double standard.

    Are you suggesting that Ezra is being utterly disingenuous when praising the “liberal values” of the West? Why, I’m shocked… simply shocked at such a vile accusation.

  19. trainman

    And trainman, what environmentalists are saying is that climate change trumps economics.

    No! Absolutely not. Climate change does not trump economics–unless the environmentalists are going to finance the cost of food production. But because they aren’t and can’t, the folks that are responsible for paying for things are going to continue to choose to use oil.

    I’m telling you that human life trumps climate change. A couple of billion people not getting enough to eat is going to fuck up your efforts to reduce reliance on cheap energy, a.k.a. oil.

    There’s no talking your way out of this one. The cold hard reality is that our planet demands and needs to use oil. And dealing with the pollution will have to wait for the day when we can afford to do so. That’s whats going to happen whether you like it or not.

  20. trainman

    Are you suggesting that Ezra is being utterly disingenuous when praising the “liberal values” of the West? Why, I’m shocked… simply shocked at such a vile accusation.

    If you look up rhetoric in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Ezra Levant.

  21. Indeedy.

    I wonder though if Ezra and his ilk aren’t genuinely prideful to some extent of the “tolerant” and “liberal” aspects of our society that they otherwise routinely disparage and sneer at with derision in the pages of the Sun newspapers and on the stump of their TV channel? In any case, it is funny to see them deploying various “progressive” notions as being amongst the characteristics that most distinguish us from the “unethical” regimes of the Middle East and elsewhere.

  22. Lars

    Oh dear, you really aren’t getting it.
    Economies exist within ecosystems, and they aren’t independent of them. Most modern economists treat environmental factors as externalities. This allows them to make unsupportable assumptions about the nature of the world, one of which is that our response to any environmental challenges, such as loss of topsoil, drought, reduction of glacial watershed sources, loss of ground cover, soil nutrient exhaustion, et bloody cetera, will be a function of how our economy is doing. What they, and you, seem to be oblivious to is that economies are not operating in a vacuum, that food supply depends directly, everywhere, upon climate, and that the sorts of changes in climate that we’re very likely to see over the next few decades, due to anthropogenic influences, are likely to pull the rug right out from under economies. You were inadvertently correct – there’s no talking your way out of this one, not from a ecological point of view.

    Red – compare Saskatchewan and Alberta – similar in many respects (I know I’m papering over a multitude of small salient differences, but bear with me). Saskatchewan – economic mainstay through the 20th century is agriculture.
    Alberta – economic mainstay through the second half of the 20th century is oil and gas.
    Do the differences in political culture between the two provinces correlate with the differences in the ways that the provincial governments fill their coffers?
    And has Big Ag distorted public discourse in Saskatechewan? It’s had lots of time and opportunity.
    And this sort of thing (http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Talisman+backed+anti+global+warming+campaign/5398931/story.html) happens here in Calgary and nobody appears to turn a hair. Would something like that happen (a hypothetical, I admit) in Saskatechwan, if Monsanto or Pfizer attempted to subvert a university and played a shell game with financing opposition to public concern over, say, herbicide effects?

  23. Craig Chamberlain

    (Keep a lid on that oil or we’re dead, after killing a lot of the planet with it and for it.)

  24. Craig Chamberlain

    Progress on national energy strategy here:

  25. Lars: I’m not arguing that money from private industry doesn’t have a “corrosive” influence on politics. You asked me to provide a non-oil example and I did… Has “BigAg” distorted or influenced the political discourse in Saskatchewan? I really don’t know enough to say.

  26. LMA

    Brian Topp has some excellent ideas for the ethical production of Tar Sands oil in today’s Globe and Mail. Instead of rapid and irresponsible extraction and export of unprocessed bitumen, we could manufacture and export products derived from the resource. If we proceed with the rapid expansion of the Tar Sands over the next decade, we have no hope of reducing GHG emissions.

  27. Lars

    OK, RT, you did provide me with an example, quite right. Then I got on my hobbyhorse and went galloping off. Sorry about that.
    But I think that one of my points, that Levant etc. would find a Canadian petro-state a congenial environment, is true and worth exploring. Not now, though.

  28. trainman

    Lars,

    Yes I am getting it.

    What they, and you, seem to be oblivious to is that economies are not operating in a vacuum, that food supply depends directly, everywhere, upon climate, and that the sorts of changes in climate that we’re very likely to see over the next few decades, due to anthropogenic influences, are likely to pull the rug right out from under economies.

    That last statement is a hypothesis, not a fact, that’s why you had to use the word “likely”. Here is a fact: environmentalists are not operating in a vacuum, they’re operating in a world economy where things cost money. And when people have to decide between feeding people and saving the planet, they will pick feeding people every time.

    That’s not to say that maybe the earth might explode because of all the pollution–it might. But that doesn’t change anything about social behavior and the way that humans will approach the situation. This isn’t an argument about whether David Suzuki is right or whether he’s a flipping nutcase. This is an argument about what is actually going to happen based on the realities of economics, politics and social pressure. People will continue to use cheap energy (aka oil) as long as it is required to supply the world’s population with food. End of story.

  29. trainman

    Again RT, I don’t think Ezra is proud of gay rights, liberal values, etc., I think we know that for sure. I think he’s saying to those that do support liberal values, that they had better stop bashing the countries that support those liberal values because if they don’t, they’re sawing off the limb they’re standing on.

  30. Craig Chamberlain

    (Environmentalists aren’t operating in a vacuum when it comes to the economy, that is true. Those who do are the ones Lars is talking about. The economy does not happen in some kind of isolation of whether or not we have life as we know it. And the economy is largely about predicting how humans will live on this planet, and what we have now reflects our assumptions based on our past as a species. Somehow we need to agree that we have to address the needs of society, now, without bringing an all but certain end to our civilization later. Or it’s done. And we’re done. Trainman, surely the hope we must have for the future of this planet shouldn’t be taken as an opportunity to dismiss our present crisis.)

  31. Trainman: “…they had better stop bashing the countries that support those liberal values because if they don’t, they’re sawing off the limb they’re standing on.”

    Well, last time I checked it wasn’t just “liberals” that were doing the “bashing” but also those on the libertarian and far right end of the political spectrum, at least in terms of foreign policy matters. That isn’t to say that we all shouldn’t be equally harsh when it comes to despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia. But then, it almost goes without saying, doesn’t it? I can’t think of anyone – other than the government and corporate opportunists – that are actually supportive of these wretched tinpot dictatorships.

  32. trainman

    I wasn’t talking about bashing foreign dictatorships–have at it. I was talking about liberals bashing the oilsands, that are fueling the economy and society in which they live, a society that supports, or at the very least gives them freedom of expression and the opportunity to live out their liberal values. “We hate your damn oilsands but we sure love to tax the hell out of them so that we can fund our social programs.” That’s the sentiment that blows my mind. If you hate the oilsands and love Saudi oil, by all means, move to Saudi. Or better yet move to a region that has no oil at all–just wind, solar and tidal energy. But people don’t do that, because it is just political grandstanding–people vote with their feet.

  33. trainman

    Craig,

    What you say is very true, at its root it is simply an appeal to “the greatest good for the greatest number”.

    The problem is that achieving the greater good comes into conflict with individual rights. Essentially, your philosophy is calling for a prescribed solution to ensure the greater good for our planet, and thus our civilization, societies, etc. Which is fine, in fact it is logical.

    But here is the big problem: Those on the left, with a soft spot for the “environment” are more than happy to support controls on freedoms, that will promote “green” living. But when anyone from the right, proposes prescribed solutions for any other area–user fees to make people take health care spending seriously, work programs for welfare cases, mandated ultra-sounds prior to an abortion, stiffer penalties for criminals, etc.–the rebuttal from the left is always the same: we can’t do that because it is trampling on individual rights. No mention that the ideas are wrong, or unproductive, or unfair–because by and large they’re not, just that we can’t sacrifice individual rights, no matter what the upside.

    There’s no denying that user fees will help reduce waste in health care spending–and certainly on an individual basis there may be those that struggle with a system like this.

    Work programs for those that want to receive a welfare cheque are just plain common sense–but some individuals may suffer under a system like this.

    Placing appropriate restrictions on abortions (which all the research shows are extremely destructive to physical and mental health) can not be debated on any other grounds except individual rights.

    Stiffer penalties for criminals will put more people in jail and will cost our tax payers more money, maybe even wrongly convict/punish some people–but it will get criminals off the streets.

    These measures are common themes and even campaign planks in right wing politics, and while they may be very good prescriptions for a crippled healthcare system, an ailing social welfare structure and an impotent justice system, the cry from the left is that we can’t support them because they place restrictions on individuals.

    And then in the same breath, the left declares that they support individual restrictions in order to accomplish their environmental agenda. Never mind that the challenges of the healthcare and justice systems are real, factual and taking place before our very eyes, and the dangers of “global warming” are still very much theoretical and an some cases fabricated. Even if we accept the hypothesis of the Al Gore’s of the world–“that our planet will burn to a crisp in less than 2 centuries” (probably a slight exaggeration)–the right still has the same bloody question: “Why should we support your restrictions on individual rights to battle climate change when you won’t support our restrictions on individual rights to fix the rest of our problems?”

    My point earlier about feeding people with cheap oil, is in reference to the fact that by condemning the use of cheap oil, we’re essentially asking rich Republicans in NA to take on huge restrictions/sacrifices of their financial freedoms to help feed people in the third world while the rest of NA continues to spiral out of control because people here don’t want to be bothered to take some personal responsibility for their healthcare!

    And that is one of the reasons why those political parties that espouse support for drastic solutions to climate change, aren’t getting anywhere in NA, because they’re proposing a double standard. I have a feeling that if the Democrats were to allow the restrictions on individual freedoms that the Republicans are calling for, Republicans would be willing to give in on the environmental restrictions. But my guess is that Democrats, would rather flaunt their liberal values than truly “save the planet”.

  34. Craig Chamberlain

    (We certainly have a dilemna when it comes to balancing rights and obligations, opportunity and risk when we add climate change, actual and projected to the mix. I’m not sure if anyone, left or right, has a monopoly on championing either individual or collective rights, though. It seems everyone is willing to curb individual rights when it serves them, just as they are with one issue or another wary of being steamrolled by the “greater good”. The bottom line is we have to acknowledge we are living creatures requiring the conditions living creatures require or we’re dead. And that is no theoretical discussion of rights and obligations, such as this vain specie indulges in.)

  35. Boris Hadenuf

    ” … [B]ut unless one is adamantly opposed to oil as an energy source regardless of origin, then branding our frozen bitumen sludge as the preferred ‘fair trade’ choice of consumers is… genius!”

    Way to brush slime on both realists — who recognize that there IS no viable, reliable energy source to power our computers than oil — AND idealists, who want reliable energy without pissing on the caribous, or some such heinous thing.

    I wish I was so clever, but I’m not.

  36. Boris Hadenuf

    “I wish I was so clever, but I’m not.”

    Meant that satirically, of course. Actually, I’m clever enough. When the balloon goes up — and it will, very soon — by my own foresight, I’ll be fed, clothed, sheltered and powered. Quite comfortable.

    Unlike you, and your post-modern ilk. Try eating your witty and incisive insights on how stupid/boorish/obnoxious/racist/pick-yer-insult conservatives are. With fava beans.

    Then try knocking on MY door when yer hungry. Too bad you never successfully got rid of guns.

  37. Boris: Good luck with things in your fortified “Shelter of Doom” when the “balloon goes up”…

    Contrary to your apocalyptic fantasies, however, I’m thinking it quite unlikely that hordes of starving post-modernists will be beating down your door in search of canned lentils and MREs – as much as you might hope for the opportunity to blow them away with your GUNS, lovely GUNS…

  38. Craig Chamberlain

    (The number one threat to individual rights and freedoms is complacency… towards climate change.)

  39. trainman

    Do you care to provide any proof, or at the very least, a chain of reasoning for this claim?

  40. lenny

    “The problem is that achieving the greater good comes into conflict with individual rights. ”

    Nonsense. You no more have an intrinsic “right” to engage in behaviour that alters the climate for everybody, than you have a right to cut down trees on your property and drop them on my house.

  41. That makes me wonder what folks think about fireplaces and the “right” of people to burn logs on a cold winter night…

    A classic case perhaps of an individual’s “right” to be warmed and gratified by a fire burning on their own hearth (let’s even assume for the sake of argument they don’t actually require it for heating purposes)… while simultaneously expelling carbon-rich “pollution” to the surrounding area and environment at large.

    Full disclosure: I don’t have a fireplace at present, but used to and enjoyed it without much of a care in the world about its polluting effects. In fact, I quite like the smell of woodsmoke in the air, especially on a frigid winter day.

  42. lenny

    Well, in simple terms, the carbon released by burning logs isn’t fossil carbon. It’s carbon that was recently captured from the atmosphere by the tree and it would be released in any event, either by combustion or the work of bacteria after the death of the tree.

  43. Hmmm. Last time I checked, CO2 is — in simple terms — a fungible chemical compound. In other words, no matter where it comes from the emission contributes to the atmospheric aggregate. Are you saying that trees are a complete “freebie” in the global warming scheme of things? If so, then perhaps we should investigate the possibility of wood-fired power plants! Or not… because I’d venture to guess that the intentional combustion of wood results in exponentially higher releases of CO2 into the atmosphere than gradual seepage from decomposition. Maybe I’m just missing something in your explanation…

  44. lenny

    “If so, then perhaps we should investigate the possibility of wood-fired power plants!:”

    We are.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-wood-pellets-a-green-hit-in-europe-but-not-alberta/article1679202/

    “Maybe I’m just missing something in your explanation…”
    You’re missing the fact that most of the trees in Canada are growing in boreal forest which has a relatively short burn cycle – it will burn whether you leave it standing or put it in your fireplace.
    Burning wood is adding no new net co2 to the cycle particularly if that land the wood came is being maintained as forest and replacing that which you burned with new trees.

  45. Well, great then. Thanks for the info and clarification.

    Here’s to many more completely guilt-free fires…

  46. Boris Hadenuf

    Oh, my dear God, *s*

    Okay. Here’s something that may be a touchstone. Ants and grasshoppers?

    Good, freaking, luck 🙂

  47. Boris Dumbenuf: Yeah, I totally got where you were going with that tedious little homily the first time.

  48. lenny

    Boris just assumes everyone else lives their lives in pants-pissing fear too.
    The gun helps when you’ve got a small anterior cingulate.

  49. trainman

    @lenny,

    Nonsense. You no more have an intrinsic “right” to engage in behaviour that alters the climate for everybody, than you have a right to cut down trees on your property and drop them on my house.

    Maybe this statement is true inside of your own philosophy, but it’s pretty hard to put it into the context of the real world.

    Not sure what exactly an “intrinsic right” is, and I’m not sure that anybody knows specifically to what extent individual actions alter the climate, but I do know that I have the right to cut down a tree on my property (my particular municipality may issue me a fine for doing so) but I don’t have a right to drop it on your house. And I do have a right to drive a car, which does emit pollution into the air.

    What’s your point?

  50. trainman

    “A classic case perhaps of an individual’s “right” to be warmed and gratified by a fire burning on their own hearth (let’s even assume for the sake of argument they don’t actually require it for heating purposes)… while simultaneously expelling carbon-rich “pollution” to the surrounding area and environment at large”

    This is exactly the situation I’m getting at, i.e. balancing individual rights vs. group rights–carbon emission details aside.

    And from what I know of the human race and human nature, we will, as a planet, select a solution in favour of the short term and not the long term. And to suggest that it is not our right to select a solution in favour of the short term, leads us into the territory of objective morality, and I would suggest that is not an area that lefties and geen peace folks want to go, because they’re ideological framework has some pretty big holes in that department.

  51. Craig Chamberlain

    Carbon is “captured” until it is released, for example, by burning. Think about a tree that lived many, many years to maturity then died. The carbon is still integral to the tree — the trunk, the branches, the roots, every bit of it. Now think and how long it takes to release the carbon if we were to cut it up and burn it, especially when compared to how long that tree had lived. Next, consider the carbon release from burning not one tree but many in a short time. It seems to be a matter of scale and other contributions when it comes to climate impact.

    And yes, RT, if I could burn wood I would. A good wintertime back-up and yes, nothing can beat the smell of it.

    A facinating “carbon sink” for me is in deep rooted grasses — the roots are where the real carbon gains happen.

  52. Trainman: Broadly speaking, I think we’re in a transitional period at the moment in terms of energy. Perhaps clean, efficient, sustainable “alternative” solutions will eventually be developed on a scale that would make them economically viable, but currently we’re far from achieving that objective. Certainly that would be desirable, but it may not happen for 20, 30 or 50 years… Who knows? As such, we have to accept our massive dependence on fossil fuels of one sort or another; not only for fuel but the pervasive use of petroleum integral as plastics in so many of the products we take for granted. For now, the challenge is to minimize their impact on the environment.

    Your absolutely right about people naturally taking the short-term view of things. The notion that we can live our daily lives with an expansive appreciation of how our actions may impact future generations long after we’ve passed on is complete nonsense – it simply isn’t how the vast majority of people think or act in practice. That said, it would also be the height of folly to crap in our own nest, so sensible conservation practices and pragmatic environmental stewardship make good sense and should be encouraged through regulation or incentivized by other means.

    As for the Tar Sands more specifically, I think it’s good that the oil producers have been pressured (by government… following public opinion that has been swayed by environmentalists) to do more to clean up their act – e.g., reducing emissions, reclaiming former mining sites, cutting their water consumption, etc. The “liberal” in me believes that government can play an important role in forcing companies to behave in ways that are more socially and environmentally responsible –actions that may not otherwise come naturally to them if left to their own devices (i.e., maximizing short-term shareholder profit irrespective of the consequences). In this regard, government is necessary to hold corporations to account for what economists refer to as the “externalities” that may not otherwise factor into their bottom line, but I believe should be to a reasonable extent.

  53. lenny

    “Not sure what exactly an “intrinsic right” is, and I’m not sure that anybody knows specifically to what extent individual actions alter the climate”

    We know quite well how co2 alters the climate, and it’s quite easy to get a workable estimate of your contribution.

    “This is exactly the situation I’m getting at, i.e. balancing individual rights vs. group rights”

    No. It’s your rights vs other individuals rights to not to be subjected to an altered climate in which they are subjected to drought, famine, etc.

    “And to suggest that it is not our right to select a solution in favour of the short term, leads us into the territory of objective morality, ”

    Now you’re simply balancing your right to do as you please against the rights of future generations to live in a healthy and viable environment.

    “What’s your point?’

    Have a look at the entry for “ethics” while you’re looking up “intrinsic” and you might get there.

  54. trainman

    “We know quite well how co2 alters the climate, and it’s quite easy to get a workable estimate of your contribution.”

    Keep on keeping on with those estimates.

    “No. It’s your rights vs other individuals rights to not to be subjected to an altered climate in which they are subjected to drought, famine, etc.”

    Not sure if everything is working upstairs, but if you would take time to comprehend what you’re reading, you’ll see that it is exactly individual rights vs. group rights. It’s the right of an individual to drive an SUV vs. other’s rights (aka the group) to “not be subjected to an altered climate”–exactly as I said.

    Now, Lenny, if you care to prove to us why your right to live in an unaltered climate should subvert my right to drive an SUV, I’m all ears. You may think you have good reasons, but those reasons are moral reasons, and not legal reasons. Which is why I made my point about “objective morality”. You may think that sacrificing a nice clean, green planet so that one can drive a fossil fuel burning SUV is immoral, but that is simply, and only your opinion. And nothing more.

    And if you’d actually made yourself aware of the complete discussion on this thread, you would have seen the issue I’ve already raised:

    Those on the left, with a soft spot for the “environment” are more than happy to support controls on freedoms, that will promote “green” living. But when anyone from the right, proposes prescribed solutions for any other area–user fees to make people take health care spending seriously, work programs for welfare cases, mandated ultra-sounds prior to an abortion, stiffer penalties for criminals, etc.–the rebuttal from the left is always the same: we can’t do that because it is trampling on individual rights. No mention that the ideas are wrong, or unproductive, or unfair–because by and large they’re not, just that we can’t sacrifice individual rights, no matter what the upside.

    And that is that any policy/restriction is about individual rights vs. the group’s rights. And the question I have is: why is the left–who normally upholds “intrinsic rights”–so happy to trample them when it comes to the environment?

  55. lenny

    “It’s the right of an individual to drive an SUV vs. other’s rights (aka the group) to “not be subjected to an altered climate”–exactly as I said.”

    Not sure if everything is working upstairs but your comment makes no more sense than, “It’s the right of an individual to live in a viable environment vs other’s rights (aka the group) to “drive SUVs”.

    “No mention that the ideas are wrong, or unproductive, or unfair”

    False.

    “if you care to prove to us why your right to live in an unaltered climate should subvert my right to drive an SUV,”

    No mention of a right to live in “an unaltered climate” from me.

    “And that is that any policy/restriction is about individual rights vs. the group’s rights.”

    Wrong, as is, consequentially, your question.

  56. trainman

    Lenny: “No mention of a right to live in “an unaltered climate” from me.”

    Lenny: “It’s your rights vs other individuals rights to not to be subjected to an altered climate in which they are subjected to drought, famine, etc.”

    False. Wrong. (See I can do it too.)

    Okay, Lenny, it’s getting a bit tedious in here.

  57. lenny

    …in which they are subjected to drought, famine, etc.

    That’s the whole issue, not the fact that it’s simply “altered”.

  58. trainman

    Semantics dude. If you’re hung up on this, then I can tell you that you’re completely missing the point of the argument. Even if it is a drought, please prove to me “why your right to live in a drought free climate should subvert my right to drive an SUV.”

    I’m all ears to hear how you can prove this, without appealing to some objective morality which, I can guarantee you, will not be universally shared.

  59. lenny

    Our own charter guarantees a right to “to life, liberty and security of the person”. No mention of SUVs.

  60. trainman

    No mention of guarantees against future droughts or famine.

    Driving an SUV isn’t taking away your right to life, it isn’t taking away your right to liberty, and it isn’t taking away your right to security of your person.

    What’s your point?

  61. lenny

    Should the rate at which greenhouse gases are being emitted continue unabated, those rights certainly will be taken away from millions of people.

  62. Craig Chamberlain

    What a load of bullcrap here. Climate change is here. Now. The planet can take you or live you, it can take or leave all of us thank you very much. We’ve been crummy tenants. Pathetically self-absorbed. Really, we’re embarassing ourselves. Obsessing over whether we have a right to the very activities and things that are bringing an end to life as we ever known it to be. And it seems we are intent to ignore it all. Not because doing so will make it go away but because we are stuck doing what we do, what we know — debating, posturing, navel gazing — which is ironic in that to do so we have to have a few essential pre-conditions including clean air and water, and food.

  63. trainman

    Reread the thread and your responses. You’re running away from the question: “why does your right to live in a drought free climate subvert someone else’s right to drive an SUV?”

    You can’t answer that question–and you won’t be able to, because there is no moral justification for your assertion.

  64. Craig Chamberlain

    (I could respond further, but I think I would be just wasting my time. But as an exercise, if you are secure enough in your self-talk to attempt it, try contemplating what it would be to convince your ancestors of the validity, the wisdom of your logic. BTW, climate change doesn’t necessarily mean drought, but I suppose you know that.)

  65. lenny

    “Reread the thread and your responses. You’re running away from the question.”

    Better not to reread the thread, unless you’re demanding one not believe their lyin’ eyes.

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