No, Canada – There is No Ethical Oil

ethical oil canada saudi arabia

Lobbying group EthicalOil.org is challenging Saudi Oil on the basis of women’s rights.

A Canadian lobbying group is claiming that Canada’s oil is somehow more “ethical” than Saudi Arabian oil because the Saudis don’t just destroy the climate we evolved to live in but also abuse women’s rights. Now, I am as feminist as they come, but the civil rights of women living now in Saudi Arabia are insignificant, ethically, compared with destroying the climate our civilization depended on.

Within the next few centuries, scientists say, due to rising CO2 from fossil fuels, two thirds of the planet will become uninhabitably hot, 80% of crops will no longer grow in the major breadbasket regions worldwide, the seas will overtake our major cities, the glaciers that billions depend on for water will be gone, and already dry regions like most of the Middle East will dry up altogether.

It is hard to see how our brief civilization, two hundred thousand years in the making, will survive the climate that this industry caused in its brief life over the last few hundred years.

Nobody in the oil business has any business calling themselves “ethical.”

Considering our long history, and counting the eons it took to evolve our less sentient forbears, and the eons it took to evolve the even less sentient cells that made them up, you might say that it took all 4 billion years that the planet has been in existence to create sentient life. Possibly the only sentient life in the universe.

This is the real ethical dilemma for us, for it is this generation that knows it is allowing climate change to destroy our future. (80% of Middle East and Africa Concerned About Climate Change) None of us can call ourselves ethical if we don’t switch to clean energy. (CO2 Emissions In Middle East to Double In 30 Years) But those of us actively in the fossil industry have the least right to do so. There just is no “Ethical Oil”.

If you are in the oil business, you are in the business of putting the global ecosystem we need to survive out of business, and there is no parsing minor portions of that world, such as any one group of humans against the rest of our global civilization.

Yet, imagining that either of them have the right to talk ethics, dirty oil governed and now climate-science-denying Canada and dirty oil dependent and human-right-denying Saudi Arabia are squabbling over which oil is ethical.

The Saudi embassy is trying to kill a 30-second advocacy ad for television that argues US reliance on Canada’s oil-sands production is more “ethical” than buying oil from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, because it is undemocratic. The ad was produced by EthicalOil.org, an advocacy group founded by Alykhan Velshi that was the brainchild of Conservative activist Ezra Levant.

We have seen that democracies can be turned despotic by the resource curse of oil, and Canada is no different. Now Canada is muzzling its climate scientists, just like Bush and Cheney. Give it a hundred years of oil tar, and it might be no more democratic than the desert kingdom who’s resource curse of oil wealth began earlier, in the 19th century.

In fact, there could actually be an argument, on technical grounds, that Saudi oil is the more ethical, since its dirty fossil fuel right under the desert does not have the higher greenhouse gases of Canada’s dirty tar sands oil being laboriously extracted from under its Alberta province.

But only because it just takes more fossil-fueled energy to squeeze oil from the planet by melting rocks.

Related stories:

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The Red Sea is Getting Hotter Faster Than the Rest
Desertification In Egypt Is Putting Food Supplies At Risk
Why the Middle East Should Definitely Support America’s Keystone XL Pipeline Protests

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One thought on “No, Canada – There is No Ethical Oil”

  1. Twelvefootdavis says:

    Susan, please publish your facts about the Saudi oil production energy usage. Seeing as Saudi Arabia does not release ANY information of their flaring, water usage, spills, CO2 emitted, what % is heavy, how much is hydroprocessed, etc. I am surprised that you know it is less energy intensive than the Alberta Oil Sands (where all the above information is required to be published).

    The ethical question is valid. What is preferable…refineries in the US buying heavy oil from OPEC or from Canada? I know what Green Prophet wants…no oil used. But this simplistic, clueless philosophy will never happen.These refineries are not going to run dry…they are buying this crude, no matter what you want.

    So the question is…OPEC or Canada? Before you spout off the old line about oil sands being 20% more CO2 intensive…we are talking about heavy oil refining. As you are likely not a chemical engineer, I’ll make it simple. Heavy oil comes from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and from the Oil Sands. It is a different feedstock to refineries than conventional crude. The CO2 released in the production of heavy oil is equal, no matter where is comes from…in fact, studies have shown Alberta Oil Sands to be less CO2 intensive than Venezuelan.

    Conventional oil is becoming rare. That is why heavy oil is being produced. Saudi Arabia produces more heavy oil than any other country in the world. They also are heavy polluters and are completely unregulated.

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