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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

So much misinformation in so few words
November 7, 2011 - 1:25pm

An NPR story, this morning, reported on the Keystone XL pipeline, protests against it in Washington, and a surprising alliance forming against it in Nebraska.  Of course, they felt obligated to let TransCanada -- the pipeline company proposing to build Keystone XL -- have its say.  The statement from the TransCanada spokesman, as broadcast:

Anybody who looks at this objectively knows that we're decades away from being able to turn off the fossil fuel switch and flip on an alternative energy switch without affecting our quality of life.

As written, that's (at least arguably) 100% true.  It's also 100% misleading.

It implies that TransCanada defines what constitutes an objective viewpoint.  As if they are somehow disinterested observers of their own multi-billion-dollar project.

It intimates that moving away from fossil fuels will happen more or less instantly.

It implies that the instant of moving off fossil fuels has to wait until alternative energy sources are entirely ready to take over (so we can flip that "switch" at the same time).

It puts a lot of weight on quality of life, as if somehow we could ever make a major technological shift with no quality of life impacts.  It also implies that any change to our quality of life will be for the worse (like our quality of life is somehow wonderful, right now.)

It implies that the "switch" from fossil fuels to alternative energy will happen (in due course) regardless of the availability or pricing of fossil fuels, so that steps (like pipeline construction) taken to increase fossil fuel availability (and, thus, moderate fossil fuel price rises) will in no way delay the change-over and are thus unmitigated goods.

Less strongly, it implies that companies like TransCanada and its partners bear no responsibility for maintaining the whole "decades away" thing -- that they haven't actively been minimizing support for alternative energy development and implementation.

It implies that these corporations are only trying to do what's best for us.  All of us.  Even if there is some (slight, very slight, tiny . . . really . . . trust me on this one) risk to the Ogllala aquifer.  Among other things.

But, when first heard, doesn't it sound entirely reasonable?  logical?  rational?

As my grandfather used to say, "the devil can quote Scripture when it suits his purpose."




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