Suffer the Short-Term; Appreciate the Long-Term

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Surrounded with controversy about environmental impact, cost of construction, and cronyism, constructing a new oil pipeline from Canada to the United States is proving to be much more complicated than proponents originally assumes. On a fundamental level, the pipeline will only ease the transport of fuel from tar sands from the source in Alberta, Canada to the refinement plants in the United States. There are already several such pipelines constructed, so why is Keystone XL such a big issue? For some, the pipeline serves a symbolic role, and a win against the construction of the pipeline would serve as a win against tar sands, petroleum products, and nonrenewable power sources as a whole. For others there are concerns about the safety of the pipeline itself, as transport of hydrocarbons has never proven to be completely failsafe. And while both TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, and external companies hired to analyze the construction of the pipeline vouch for the safety and benefits, many are hesitant to trust the company standing to benefit most from the project.
Tar sands, a combination of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, a heavy black oil, are one of the most recent utilized sources of petroleum. A majority of the world’s oil reserves – over two trillion barrels – lie in the form of tar sands in Canada, Venezuela, and parts of the Middle East (Caroll). Because they require significantly more refinement and provided less petroleum per volume than any other utilized source of hydrocarbons, these oil reserves were not considered profitable before 2003. The cost of creating a barrel of crude oil from a Deep Water Horizon style drill is approximately fifty-five dollars (Caroll), while the cost from tar sands in Alberta is ...

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...?” Michael F. Maniates repudiates the small, individual “environment-saving” actions that have become so popular in the modern age. Maniates decides that the “individualization of responsibility” creates a societally ingrained concept that “knotty issues of consumption” can be resolved with “uncoordinated consumer choice” (Maniates 33). Instead, the change should be focused on “challenging the dominant view – the production, technology, efficiency-oriented perspective” (Maniates 50). Like Hardin, Maniates believes that impactful change can only come about from wide-scale changes in consumption habits, but considers consumption to be “constrained, shaped, and framed by insitutions and political forces that can be remade only through collective citizen action” (Maniates 50). This collective citizen action can best be manifested in the form of new government regulation.

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