I had a very difficult decision to make when deciding what to write about this week. There are a number of exciting developments, accompanied by a few worrying setbacks, that have occurred. Most notably there are the developments proposed by President Trump. Not only has the President signed documents that will pressurise federal agencies to support the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines, but he has also allegedly ordered the prevention of the US Environment Agency from providing updates ‘on social media or to reporters’. Without a shadow of a doubt many of us environmentalists were worried about the consequences for the planet caused by Trump’s Presidency, and if it wasn’t before to some, it is now clear to all that the environment is not at the top of his priority list. At the moment, it may seem like all of the environmental progress that had been made over the past decade, particularly with regards to climate change and the Paris Agreement, may have been in vain.
For those of you who don’t know, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a 1,179 mile proposed pipeline running from the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada to Steele City in Nebraska. From this point it will adjoin to an existing pipeline that runs all the way to Texas, thus providing an estimated 830,000 barrels of oil every day. It is a highly controversial plan, with a complicated network of players from all walks of life affected. Plans for Keystone XL have been around for a while. Many of you may have studied it briefly for A Level Geography, and therefore are aware of the catastrophic effects this plan will have not only on the immediate landscape, but also for a vast array of people, such as native First Nation tribes people.
It seems to me as though not only would the decision to grant permission for the Keystone XL Pipeline be immediately detrimental, it would also be seen as a symbol of an unsustainable future for the rest of the world. The United States of America is a superpower and in a position of undeniable global influence. They should be pioneers for innovative, sustainable technologies and alternative green energies to steer away from our global dependency on fossil fuels. The creation of the Keystone XL Pipeline will not only promote the message of fossil fuels, but it will also increase consumption from the Alberta Tar Sands tenfold. This is a short-term plan, jeopardising the future of our planet in the name of economic profits.
According to the Institute of 21st Century Energy, the main pros of the Keystone XL Pipeline will be the increase in U.S. Energy Security and improved U.S. Economic Growth. The only plus-side to all of this truly would be the increased production of fossil fuels – if you can even see that as a plus-side. A recent report in The Guardian stated that as little as 35 permanent jobs will be created as result of the construction. This isn’t even going to be a source of viable long-term employment. Unfortunately, it seems that being pollution pioneers in the name of economic growth is the route Trump has decided to take for the United States.
After all of the hard-fought environmental progress that occurred during Obama’s presidency, in a matter of days, Trump has shattered the hopes of many global citizens. It is difficult to see what hope there is campaigning for resistance against a President who appears to not care about the majority. But if we don’t have anything, at least we do have hope. In the interest of climate change and the global community, it is paramount that the war against increased fossil fuel consumption is won. We are now at a tipping point, where our impact on the planet could become irreversible, leading to catastrophic implications for future generations.
“If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money” – Dr. Guy McPherson