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Posts Tagged ‘oil’

Here’s just a tiny example of what’s likely to be a growing phenomenon — increased pressure to extract oil from much-loved, environmentally sensitive areas all over the world.

It’s not just vast wildernesses like ANWR that will be threatened as oil prices soar.

As this plan to drill in the UK shows, we can expect that pressure to occur on the micro-scale also.

What’s at threat in Southern England is just 2.5 acres of woodland. But it’s in an area likely to soon be designated as a national park. And in a country where just about every square mile of land has been managed for millennia, any woodland has the status of national treasure.

How many such places will we be prepared to destroy in the name of extracting the last few usable barrels of oil left to us? How, too, can we create a proper accounting structure for that extraction, so that we factor the cost of the amenity destroyed (not to mention its history, ecology, intrinsic beauty etc.)  against the income derived from the small amount of petroleum that it will yield?

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As environmental issues finally seem urgent to broad swathes of the US commentariat, that reality is spawning all sorts of creative arguments for what people wanted all along.

Take the example of drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive habitats in the USA. In a Tribune Media column today, the Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson argues — quite creatively — that the proper response to our various environmental crises is for the US to drill for more oil in Alaska and off the Florida and California coasts.

His reasoning, essentially, is that right now we don’t have any decent alternatives to oil and that other oil exporters are nasty mean guys who don’t care about polluting. So if the US can become more oil-independent, it will make the polluters poorer and more likely to be deposed (at whatever human cost) and therefore make for less pollution! He says:

the choices facing us, at least for the next few decades, are not between bad and good, but between bad and far worse – and involve wider questions of global security, fairness and growing scarcity.

It’s a little like George Bush’s firm belief that the solution to everything is to cut taxes on the rich. We can expect to see a lot more of this: people finding in climate change a rationale for doing what they wanted to do, even before climate change was something they felt was an issue.

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