How Obama's Keystone Pipeline Veto Saved Our Soil
The Keystone Pipeline would have been an environmental disaster.
This is precisely why President Obama just vetoed a Republican sponsored bill that advocated for its construction.
The source of the pipeline would have been in Alberta, Canada, where oil is trapped just 50 feet under the surface in the form of "tar sands." This oil is among the crudest, dirtiest and cheapest oil on the entire planet.
However, to get to it, the surface of the earth needs to be removed. Lush forests would be scalped to expose the oozy, toxic sludge. And, once all that oil is removed, nothing could possibly repair that land; it would be permanently ruined.
A beautiful stretch of wildlife would forever be a dystopian wasteland.
But, this project would not have just been terrible for Canada's outdoor enthusiasts.
According to a recently released study, if humans want to stop earth from warming, the Alberta tar sands — and trillions of dollars of other oil, gas and coal reserves — must stay in the ground.
The planet warms when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and forms a blanket around the planet to trap in the sun's heat.
Some of that is good, but too much would thaw the ice caps, adding to the size of the ocean.
Then, the color change from bright white to deep navy means the earth would absorb even more heat, meaning more ice would melt, creating even higher ocean levels.
Changing the ocean changes our climate, which is why we are teetering on the edge of an irreversible disaster.
But, we're not helpless. We don't have to run in the streets wailing, "We didn't Listen!" All we have to do is listen to the climate-change experts and follow their advice.
It would be impractical to assume that we can completely stop using fossil fuels, but oil companies must also temper their desires for profit.
Simultaneously, we need to develop sustainable solutions and research renewable energy.
Proponents of the pipeline often sited job creation as a reason to move forward, but the reality is, once it was built, all the people hired for the pipeline would quickly be out of jobs again. It wouldn't help most Americans, only an exorbitantly wealthy few.
There were no benefits to be had from the bill's passage; President Obama saw that, and stopped it from happening.
But, this is only the first step. There is more oil, coal and gas in the earth than is safe for us to burn.
We need to resist our natural impulses for greed if we want to continue as a thriving species. Oil was dope; it got us here. But now, it is contributing to our own extinction.
There is a global climate change conference at the end of this year. Our world leaders need to make a serious commitment to finding better ways to harness inexhaustible, safe resources, like wind and sunlight.
We're smart enough, we're just being lazy because oil is easy and lucrative.
Our existence on earth is either a supernatural gift or an incalculably fortunate accident.
Either way, it's time to stop acting like we own the place. It's not like we can move.