Global warming is real — and we need Keystone

06/30/2013 6:29 PM

06/30/2013 6:29 PM

Can a person believe in global warming and still support the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada?

Can a person also believe in global warming and be a proponent of “fracking”?

Yes, and I’m one of them.

Global warming is real, and humans are the main cause. The planet is getting warmer and a rising sea level is among the most serious potential consequences of global warming.

This is no hoax.

Don’t take my word for it. I’m no expert. But when I’m not an expert, I turn to the real experts for their conclusions. According to a survey in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97 out of 100 scientific experts agree that climate change is “very likely” caused mainly by human activity.

You can listen to the other 3 percent if you want, as well as talk show hosts who are no more experts than I am. But I’m sticking with the 97 percent.

If you are interested in what Americans think about the issue, this has been polled many times, and the results are that a vast majority see “solid evidence” of global warming.

But wait.

At the same time, two-thirds of U.S. residents support construction of the Keystone pipeline. A whole lot of people, like me, seem to be inconsistent in their views.

We all know Canada will either ship by pipeline 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to our gulf coast through the Keystone pipeline, thus making us more energy independent, or they will sell it all to someone else, probably China. That oil will end up somewhere. Why not here?

And, whether environmentalists want to admit it or not, we need that oil, because wind and solar energy can only generate a small amount of energy. Both are heavily subsidized, in order to keep them solvent, and even then, some major efforts don’t make it. Hello, Solyndra.

Yes, the oil from the oil sands from Canada is dirtier than oil we normally produce or import. But that is not the reason environmentalists have gone crazy over this pipeline — and along with them our president who is hemming and hawing about approval because he is afraid of alienating his base.

The reason environmentalists are up in arms is because the pipeline makes a statement that we are hooked and will stay hooked on fossil fuels. Well, guess what. We are hooked for the foreseeable future, like it or not.

In his very convincing book “What We Know About Climate Change,” Kerry Emanuel, who is Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, has made a strong case for man-made global change. But here is what he had to say about the environmental movement:

“Indeed, by focusing on solar and wind power sources — whose limited potential and high costs prevent them from meeting more than a small part of our energy needs — the environmental movement is engaged in unproductive theater that detracts from serious debate about energy.”

So, Robert Redford and other extremists are presenting false choices of solar and wind over fossil fuels.

The Keystone pipeline’s oil is for immediate energy needs. But we do need to look beyond the present.

We should be talking about natural gas as an interim step between now and the time alternative energy becomes efficient. (Disclosure: I have been an investor in natural gas and got crushed by plummeting prices.) We have recently discovered a century’s worth of natural gas in the United States by “fracking,” a process that extracts natural gas and oil from shale deep below the surface. Gas is the cheapest form of energy available and emits far less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. There is no evidence that “fracking” is an environmental hazard, despite the sniping by The New York Times.

Let’s admit that man-made global warming is real. Let’s stop pretending that wind and solar are real options. And let’s consider the possibility that natural gas over the next century could become a main source of energy.

In the meantime, let’s put thousands of people to work building the $7 billion Keystone pipeline.

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