Oil sands buyers and sellers

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice Portia describes how the quality of mercy is twice blessed: “[i]t blesseth him that gives and him that takes”.

The oil sands are like the moral opposite of mercy – it is unethical to produce them, and unethical to consume them. It is unethical for the oil companies to dig up and sell such fuels, given what we know about climate change, and it is unethical for the buyers to purchase the fuels, largely for the same reason. Both buyers and sellers are complicit in a pattern of action that sells out future generations, in exchange for profits and cheaper fuels today. They are all knowingly imposing harm upon people all over the world, either in exchange for profits or in exchange for the benefit of using cheap fossil fuels.

In time, the oil sands industry may come to be seen as much like the asbestos industry: companies that push what they know to be a dangerous and harmful product, just because it is in their self interest to do so. Even worse, the companies do everything in their power to keep their industry unregulated. They fund phoney ‘grassroots’ groups that argue that the oil sands are wonderful, they run misleading advertising campaigns, they make campaign contributions to politicians, they make misleading claims about jobs, etc.

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