Canada does not have the right to develop the oil sands

The entire debate about oil sands development in Canada seems to centre around the question: “Is this good for us?” It includes aspects like the water and air pollution produced by the oil sands, the economic impact of oil sands development, the significance of the oil sands to federal-provincial relations, and similar such matters.

While that question is obviously a valid one worth discussing, it is also important to realize that it isn’t the end of the debate. Two more important questions are: “Are the oil sands good for the world as a whole?” and: “Does Canada have the right to keep developing the oil sands?”

I think the answer to both of these questions is clearly ‘no’. There is every indication that climate change is extremely dangerous. There is also every indication that once an industry develops in Canada, politicians will never have the guts to shut it down, no matter how obviously harmful it has become. Finally, there is the enormous size of the carbon reserve in the oil sands.

Canada is now deciding whether to spend additional billions developing the capability to add an enormous amount of extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This is at a time when the atmosphere already contains a dangerous amount of the gas – so much so that entire low-lying nations are being threatened with destruction because of sea level rise. Canada does not have the right to force climate change on the rest of the world; by extension, Canada does not have the right to develop the oil sands, and must work to substantially diminish the quantity of greenhouse gas pollution it generates.

4 thoughts on “Canada does not have the right to develop the oil sands

  1. Pingback: What’s good for us, and what’s morally permissible

  2. .

    Pipeline itself not the only problem we should worry about

    By Mark Jaccard, Vancouver Sun

    Our political leaders are lying to us if they aid and abet the expansion of tarsands while promising to take action to prevent the imminent climate catastrophe. If you love this planet and your children, and are humble and objective in considering the findings of science, you have no choice but to battle hard to stop Gateway and other tarsands pipelines. It is time to face up to this challenge with honesty and courage.

  3. Marcel Roy

    I aggree with you Mark because they have the same issue with the schiste gas in Quebec and Charest says it’s good but the Quebec citizen know the repercussions it may have on the environment

  4. .

    Oil policy turning good guy Canada into global bad boy

    By Jack Knox, Times Colonist

    A week after bleating about foreign radicals slowing the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, you have to figure Joe Oliver just wishes he had kept his cakehole corked.

    Instead of turning public opinion against the interference of well-heeled American environmentalists, Stephen Harper’s natural resources minister succeeded mainly in A) awakening Canadians to the growing extent of Asian influence in the Alberta oil patch and B) alerting the rest of the world that the Canadian cowboy now wears a black hat.

    When did the Americans sell us to China, Canadians asked.

    When did Canada become a global bad boy, asked the foreign media.

    To the rest of the world, seeing erstwhile good guy Canada pump out pollution and stifle dissent in a manner reminiscent of, well, the Chinese government is like finding Tom Hanks smoking crack with an underage prostitute.

    In a Jan. 20 piece headlined “Is our neighbor to the north becoming a jingoistic petro-state?” the influential Slate online news magazine suggested with barely restrained glee that the new ugly American is actually Canadian.

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