So tar sands are not only a source of enough carbon to increase global climate by a huge amount -- they are also the key to keeping diesel prices low enough to enable the world to fry itself by shipping long distance coal where it can be burned profitably, if lethally -- for the climate.
Why is the JBS interested in this climate-killing pipeline? Because the fight happening in Congress over the Keystone XL has taken a turn. It is no longer about the tipping point of climate change or jobs, energy security or the Ogallala Aquifer.
The Obama administration's decision Wednesday to reject a pipeline that would have carried crude from Canada's tar sands deposits to Texas oil refineries isn't likely to end investment in the carbon-rich fuel, industry analysts say.
Any Keystone XL permit issued now would be a blank check written to an oil company with a proven record of disregarding the rights of the American farmers and ranchers whose land the pipeline would cross and threaten.
As long as this stuff a) exists in known deposits, b) is in demand, c) can be profitably extracted, and d) is not viewed as a global hazard for which there are safe, economic alternatives, then extracted it will be.
Entrepreneurs are equipped to grow the business models to deploy solutions to our global energy needs. Nations like the U.S. and Canada are inept investors and entrepreneurs. But they do set the tone and attitude of their nation.
At the insistence of Republican lawmakers, the tax bill moving through Congress includes a provision requiring the president to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline in 60 days. This is political opportunism at its most cynical.
History is rich with lessons, but will political hubris take heed of past civilizations annihilated by drought? The Akkadian, Moche, Tiwanaku, Mayan, and Anasazi to name but a few are well documented in our history books.
If we say that the Keystone XL pipeline is in our national interest, than we are saying fossil fuel addiction is in our national interest. We are saying that climate change is in our national interest. We know neither is true.
By the standards of the Arab Spring, the civil disobedience at the White House this week over the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was statistically tiny. But I hope the Keystone protest will attract serious attention in the Obama White House.