Monday, September 08, 2008

Two-For-One Smear: The Alberta Oil Industry and Sarah Palin!

One fellow on the DailyKos has attacked the entire Alberta oil industry and Sarah Palin all in one massive shot across the bow. He condemns them both profoundly, along with the Alaska Pipeline Project. He believes that the Alberta oil industry should be shut down. Here's the executive summary of his argument:

Sarah Palin's Pipeline should be a major issue in this campaign. It is a disaster and a major scandal unfolding in real time. Here are three things that Voters should know about Sarah Palin's Pipeline deal:

  1. It will cost US Tax Payers Billions of dollars.
  2. It does not guarantee delivery of natural gas to US markets.
  3. It will Accelerate Climate Change and the destruction of the planet.

Let's look more closely at what he's saying:

#1 - "It will cost US Tax Payers Billions of dollars."

Yes indeed, building infrastructure costs money. The writer knows this, of course, but wants to shock people with the "B" word. The estimated cost is $26 Billion. Here's something he neglected to mention though, taken from Page 17 of the project's executive summary:

Over the first 25 years after the pipeline is up & running, the project is expected to yield the following revenue:
  • $207 billion to the Alaska Shippers after taxes and royalties;
  • $131 billion to the State of Alaska;
  • $52 billion to the United States federal government; and
  • $17 billion to TransCanada in equity return

- "It does not guarantee delivery of natural gas to US markets."

This is a downright lie. The pipeline will connect into the existing Alberta natural gas pipeline infrastructure, which itself is connected to the lower 48 states in 2 places. Stating that it will not guarantee delivery to the bulk of of the U.S. States is like saying that the electricity generated in Canadian provinces is "not guaranteed" to reach the U.S.

For endless decades there has a been a massive net import of electricity from Canada by the U.S.:
The interconnection of natural gas pipelines, including this new one from Alaska work in a very similar fashion.

#3 - "It will Accelerate Climate Change and the destruction of the planet."

In this case, he has concluded that man-made Global Warming is an undeniable fact, simply parroting talking points from the Al Gore prayer book. The statement that it's undeniable is completely false. The subject is very much an unresolved issue. The DailyKos writer didn't even bother citing any references to support his unfounded claim. I guess he figures why should one bother when denying global warming is similar in nature to being a Holocaust Denier (at least in his mind).

Any reference he did want to provide can be countered with many others that absolutely dispute this unsubstantiated claim. For starters, feel free to click here and here.

As I've stated publicly before, to assume you are absolutely correct about controversial scientific issues is the height of arrogance. To think you can intelligently debate them when you don't remotely understand the science, computer models, and mathematics behind them is the height of ignorance.

Should this fellow get his wish, let's look at the repercussions of what such a decision would actually mean:
  1. Hundreds of thousands of families throughout Alberta would no longer have any income.
  2. The economy of Alberta would instantly go into a massive depression.
  3. The economy of Canada would be dramatically hurt, certainly hurting millions of families beyond just those who work directly in the oil industry.
  4. The price of gasoline would skyrocket all across North America. Some facts: In 2006, the province of Alberta exported 1.08 million barrels per day of crude oil to the United States, which accounted for 13 percent of U.S. crude oil imports. Alberta also supplied the U.S. with 62 percent of its natural gas imports.
  5. The cost for people to heat their homes would also skyrocket.
  6. The U.S. would then have to depend even more on nations that are openly hostile toward it.
Is this really what the American people want? Does Barack Obama agree with this? I wonder how Canadian politicians, now vying for votes in a federal election, feel about this?


Leo said...

On the global warming/climate change thing:

There are two spheres of debate. In the scientific one people know a _lot_ and are generally acting in good faith.

In the public sphere of debate people know very little and are generally often not acting in good faith, or they have a vested interest.

In the scientific sphere, where real scientific debates are actually held, there is rough consensus (see the IPCC). It's in the public sphere, where people don't have access to all the information, that the debate is raging.

Yes, we will see people in the public sphere condemn the IPCC and raise questions, etc. But unless and until those questions are evaluated by someone in the scientific sphere, they are nearly worthless. Their reasoning is as good as the reasoning supporting the claim that the earth is flat "just look, see!".

I for one would rather believe the rough consensus of a team of people whose job it is to be right all the time (scientists, an extremely conservative bunch when it comes to the truth) than I would be ready to believe politicians, pundits, and public voices with an axe to grind.

Pelalusa said...

Leo, I appreciate what you're saying but here are a couple of points to consider:

1. Please carefully read the 2nd link I provided. I've heard Lord Monckton interviewed and he carefully explains how that, which was published by the IPCC, did not come from the scientists. The figures were altered for political reasons.

2. Please visit this link and tune to 9:00 - It's an interview from yesterday.

I do not doubt your sincerity but the entire problem with the Man-made Global Warming Debate is that is has become entirely political and no longer scientific to any reasonable degree.

Just so you know, I've done my part personally to minimize my carbon footprint to something less than most anyone I know. I would never try to shame another person into reducing their footprint.

LT2 said...

I'm not in a position to evaluate any of these things, and I don't think anyone outside the scientific community is, either. In science we trust experts. That's just how it goes. Sometimes experts disagree. Sometimes experts' disagreement suits, say, oil, car, and airline companies. And that's when things begin to get out of hand.

So, will there be scientists who disagree with model projections on climate change? Certainly! Are those projections likely to be wrong? Sure! But are they the best thing we've got? Unfortunately, yes.

So, fine. Maybe there's only a 15% chance bad things will happen, and a 5% chance of catastrophe. How much would you be willing to pay to avoid a 5% chance of catastrophe?

Here's a nice debate that I've found where they _do_ pit experts against experts. I feel like this is the only way people should proceed on this issue. Selectively choosing to listen to people who agree with you, which is easy to do in this debate because of the uncertainty, just won't cut it.

Pelalusa said...

Thank you for that, LT2. That's 2 balanced, intelligent comments in a row here. I think that's a new record!

I've seen the YouTube video clip you mentioned. Prior to that, I saw both Al Gore's movie (impressive) and The Great Global Warming Swindle film (more impressive).

What struck me the most from the latter film was the biggest question of all that was raised: What comes first, CO2 or warming of the earth? Martin Durkin and all the people he interviewed and every credible person I've heard since states unequivocally that the warming of the earth causes more CO2 ... not the other way around. That's pivotal to understanding my skepticism of The Church of Gore.

When I later found out that none of the aforementioned computer models take into account the activity of the sun, I became even more of a skeptic.

I don't buy into the "what percentage chance are you willing to risk of a catastrophe" argument. Life is about risk and we risk our lives each and everyday, either walking outside (traffic, crime, et al) or just sitting indoors (earthquakes, fire, etc).

Clean up actual pollution, absolutely. Demand that China and others improve their pollution problems or we'll attach tariffs to their exports. But impose more taxes for tenuous reasons and use that money for ... what exactly ... sorry, but I vote no. If I'm overruled by my fellow citizens then so be it. But I don't think I will be.

I might suggest you read something I took a lot of time to prepare earlier. When man-made global warming believers start walking their talk and reduce their carbon footprints to come even remotely close to what I'm already living then I'll start to move over to your side of the debate.

LT2 said...

I read the post -- we too easily fall into extremes in our POV and forget the position of the other side (note, btw, how good Obama is at _not_ doing this). I try to not be one of those kinds of people.

I recommend taking a look at the Wikipedia pages on the topic. They do a very good job of finding consensus and getting _all_ the evidence considered.