The Keystone pipeline runs from Alberta down into the US into Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, and has attracted a battle between environmentalists and the oil industry. In this book, the author (an environmentalist who installs solar panels) interviews various people involved in the pipeline. There is first the local concern of environmental damage from extraction and risks of chemical exposure when the pipeline leaks; then, there’s the global concern of climate change and the effect of extracting so much oil and carbon emissions. The oil industry downplays the concerns, citing that climate change is uncertain and that the oil sands only plays a small role in the global economy, and favoring economic growth.
The author divides people into two paradigms: one which favors economic growth and consumption at any cost, and one which limits consumption to what the environment can handle. To me, this way of thinking seems unnecessarily divisive, as it leaves little room for moderate consumption and gradual raising of carbon taxes. The book presents the issue as black and white, either you’re a hardcore environmentalist or greedy capitalist. The views in the book are fairly extreme: the author presents worst-case scenarios for climate catastrophe, and encourages acts of civil disobedience to raise awareness of the issue.
Ultimately, we shouldn’t blame the oil/gas companies since we consume so much, and this sends a ripple signal throughout the economy that the oil/gas industry is simply responding to. The only real solution is to reduce consumption and the demand for oil will decrease.