41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Canadian oil is better from a liberal point of view
I'm a liberal and someone who cares greatly about the environment. I am aware however that a lot of causes that are supposed to be helpful for the environment such as recycling are not as beneficial as we would perceive and you can't believe what you hear from biased groups such as Greenpeace and co.
Ethical Oil is Ezra's take on why Alberta's Oil sands are...
Published on Sept. 16 2010 by Michael Suszek
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important, could have been so much better
To begin with, I'd like to acknowledge that Levant's book is full of interesting and useful information about the social, economic, and political world of oil. He makes some strong arguments that Alberta's oilsands aren't nearly the villain that many make them out to be. But he weaves his research together with a logic that is at times convoluted and sometimes seems to...
Published on April 13 2011 by MM
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Canadian oil is better from a liberal point of view,
Ethical Oil is Ezra's take on why Alberta's Oil sands are the best option to supply the world with oil. He makes extremely logical and straightforward points and his writing is clear and articulate, I feel sorry for those people who will debate him on this topic ( see the poor guy from Greenpeace here: [...] ). This book should be essential reading for Canadians as the Oil Sand issue is going to be a big topic in our near future and Canadians should be well informed on the issue and get all sides of the story.
Although most of us are aware that oil comes from parts of the world that we'd rather not send money too (Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, etc) we don't really think about it. Ezra's book really makes you understand what you're financing when you're buying oil from these parts of the world and why Canadian oil is the best option.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important, could have been so much better,
Early in the book, Levant lambastes advocacy groups who applied so much pressure to Talisman Resources that the company eventually pulled out of Sudan. He notes that Talisman had done much for human rights in this highly corrupt dictatorship and that when they pulled out, it was a disaster for the people, possibly even a factor in the Darfur genocide. Okay, granted. Given this, how does encouraging America to invest in the 'ethical oil' of Alberta's oilsands help places like Sudan? His argument is a valid criticism of overzealous activists, but it doesn't say anything about the oilsands (except perhaps, "Activists have been wrong before, so they could be wrong again," but that doesn't make for a very powerful argument).
Levant's discussion of ethical stock options really left me scratching my head. Useful and eye-opening information, to be sure. But how does the fact that stock companies that claim to be ethical apparently invest in everything from Three Mile Island, a Chinese-Tibetan railroad, and tobacco to Alberta's oilsands further the case that the oilsands are ethical? To be sure, he harnesses this topic as one more way to mock those whom he at various points in the book refers to as "fair trade coffee-drinking, Prius-driving, Green Party-voting, recycler[s] who dabble in vegetarianism," Che-T-shirt wearers, and "bicycle-riding, hemp-wearing investor[s]". But that wasn't the point of the book.... Was it? If he's trying to convince oilsands opponents (or even those who haven't fully made up their mind one way or the other) to support his views, mocking those he disagrees with and reducing them to a meaningless stereotype will do little to support his cause. Unfortunately the book - which could have offered a valuable counterpoint to other views - reads more like a rant to the converted.
I really liked Chapter 9, which went into great detail about ways oilsands companies have improved their processes for extraction, carbon capture, and reclamation. He presents a strong argument that when all factors are taken into account, oilsands oil doesn't have a much bigger carbon footprint than most other available sources. But I was put off by Levant's obvious ignorance of climate science. It seems he did a lot of painstaking research to support his arguments, and he is (rightfully) contemptuous of activist organizations masquerading as science ('Greenpeace is not a scientific organization'). But if he's so supportive of science, why does he have such thinly disguised contempt for human-caused global warming, which has the support of many in mainstream science? Even serious skeptics like Nigel Lawson and Garth Paltridge acknowledge potential dangers of excess CO2 and aim their criticism at the hysteria surrounding global warming and the lack of attention to adaptation rather than at the entire idea that human-generated carbon might influence the climate. Levant, on the other hand, throws in lots of trivializing digs, referring to CO2 as an 'alleged pollutant' and 'plant food' (which, of course, it is - but suppose they can't eat it all?). The part that really got me was his claim that since the vast majority of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is naturally occurring, we needn't worry about the small fraction that is produced by humans. It sounds convincing, but naturally occurring CO2 is in balance with the natural forces that remove it. Everything we add contributes to a growing debt in the atmosphere (as even the deficit continues to grow). If nature can handle CO2, why is it accumulating? To me, Levant's overlooking of this most basic understanding of climate science casts huge doubt on his credibility and claimed alliance with science. I'm not suggesting that boycotting the oilsands would play even a small part in solving the climate problem (whatever that turns out to be), but belittling the whole idea doesn't do much for his general thesis.
Finally, Levant is full of praise for Alberta's relatively strict environmental guidelines, and notes on several occasions that the people of Alberta's many concerns about the oilsands put severe pressures on government and developers to work in a responsible manner. He also notes the monumental strides that have been made in oilsands technology in the past decades. While I agree that many activist groups take things too far, the environmentalists he so decries have played an important role in influencing public opinion such that these changes were deemed necessary.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Levant seeks to denormalize the denormalization that a myriad of critics are engaged in against the oil sands,
One of the objectives of _Shakedown_ - which, I dare say, was largely successful - was the denormalization of Canada's Human Rights Commissions (CHRCs). Levant sought to change public perception of the CHRCs from that of general positivity to general disgust such that any future discussions about the CHRCs would be over before they begin.
_Ethical Oil_ is also about denormalization. In arguing his case for Alberta's oil sands oil, Levant seeks to denormalize the denormalization that a myriad of critics are engaged in against the oil sands. Says Levant about the question of supporting the oil sands: "It's an important question to ask because critics of Canada's oil sands complain that the oil isn't just environmenally dirty but somehow has moral failures, that it is inherently evil. It's an attempt to denormalize the oil sands, to make them so morally repugnant that any debate about them is over before it starts." (p. 19)
I suppose you could say that two denormalizations amount to normalization. Levant seeks to normalize Alberta's oil sands.
The methodology of _Ethical Oil_ is to argue for the oil sands from a politically liberal world-and-life view. The question this methodology is employed to answer is not "whether we should use oil sands oil instead of some perfect fantasy fuel that hasn't been invented yet. Until that miracle fuel is invented, the question is whether we should use oil from the oil sands or oil from other places in the world that pump it." (p. 13)
Levant examines the world's official ethical indicators that are applied to oil companies and finds them arbitrary, lacking an objective basis, and unhelpful in making judgments about the ethics of energy companies (pp. 48-69).
Levant endorses ethical indicators put forward by a Canadian group called Kairos of which Levant is hardly a friend. The indicators are: (1) Justice - is there access to affordable energy? (2) Peace - do the oil sands promote peace or violence, directly or indirectly? (3) Sustainability - what's the environmental impact of the oil sands? (4) Democratic Decision-Making - is there a shared decision-making process between oil companies and citizens regarding the energy future of the citizenry? (pp. 62-64)
Compared to any other country on the planet - whether Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, Russia, Venezuela, Mexico, or China - there's no doubt as to which country meets these ethical indicators and which countries do not. Canada's oil sands are a light unto a dark, dark world.
The remainder of the book is devoted to an expose of the self-righteousness, utter hypocrisy, and double standards of many of Alberta's oil sands critics, including "ethical funds" investment firms, and organizations like Greenpeace. Levant also spends time on the cancer prevalence in Fort Chipewyan.
Let's be honest. _Ethical Oil_ isn't going to end the debate on the oil sands. Nevertheless, its strength is its methodology, applying a politically liberal world-and-life view to the question of the oil sands and, on that basis, coming out in support of them. If we Canadians believe in open and honest dialogue on tough issues, _Ethical Oil_ must be welcomed to the debate.
5.0 out of 5 stars All Canadians should read,
This review is from: Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands (Paperback)This book gives you scientific information on the oil sands not emotion, however you should be proud of how well we are doing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational,
This review is from: Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands (Paperback)A very informative book on an important subject. I learned a great deal about various energy exporting sources and their treatment of their own citizens through reading this fine book. Ezra is a passionate man, and I love his passion. 5/5
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible book,
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great if you like conspiracy theories,
This review is from: Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands (Paperback)This has some interesting insights, you can actually learn a bit about the oil sands (although not much), and Ezra Levant is very funny. He stops being so funny when you realize this book is about politics, not ethics, and that he is a xenophobe and a conspiracy theorist. The humour gets dull from always hitting the same notes, and the hatred against the left, climate activists, and anyone who dares to question the actions of Western countries gets to be a bit obnoxious. His conclusion seems to be that if you don't love the oil sands and hate Muslims, you don't really love your country. I suppose this will all sound extremely convincing for quite a few people in the radical right.
14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ezra is Dead Right,
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Attempting to re-label DIRTY OIL as "ethical oil",
This review is from: Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands (Paperback)XXXXX
"[W]hat's important for us to remember is that, despite the pipe dreams of environmentalists, our carbon-based economy isn't going away...So we're stuck with oil for a long time, whether we like it or not. The only question that remains is: if we have to produce oil, and we have to buy oil--and we absolutely must do both--whose oil should we do our best to support? Who can we trust to do it the most morally? "
The above extract comes from the end of this very opinionated book by Ezra Levant. Several red flags went up after I read it.
According to this books inside back flap, Levant is a "lawyer, journalist, and political activist." Actually, Levant has a Commerce degree. After obtaining this, it was natural for him to get his law degree. (The law firm I deal with has the name "Dewey, Cheetem, and Howe.")
However, Levant has no degree or diploma in journalism. Thus, he is not a journalist. At best, he can be called a "media personality."
Also, we're not told that Levant was a tobacco industry lobbyist. Yes, he was one of those intelligent individuals who was paid to tell the public (which includes children) that smoking cigarettes causes no harm.
When I first saw the title of this book, "Ethical Oil," I assumed that the oil ITSELF (specifically, Canada's tar sands oil located in the Canadian province of Alberta) could be made so as to become "ethical" (that is, non-polluting, not affecting human health, and greenhouse-gas free). Sadly, this is not the case as this book is mainly concerned with where the oil comes from (as the above extract attests).
For Levant's argument to work, he must make the case that tar sands oil and its energy-intensive (thus expensive) extraction from the Earth is not an environmental threat. This he attempts to do--in spades. At the same time, he expounds on the merits of tar sand oil and the facilities that extract this oil.
Levant, among other things, attacks Greenpeace, environmentalists , environmental or "green" jobs, and individual people (such as a journalist--a REAL journalist). He even attacks the science of climate change or "global warming."
I found that Levant went off-topic many times. For example, he devotes a long chapter to "ethical funds." Not surprisingly, he discovers that ethical funds are not really that ethical saying that those who run these funds "say one thing, and do another." It's only at the end of this long chapter that he makes the sweeping conclusion that "This is the character of the oil sands' critics." (That is, they say one thing, and do another.) It's as if Levant suddenly remembered he was writing a book on the Canadian oil sands.
I had problems with some of Levant's references. For example, several references refer back to the "Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers."
The fact is, the logic of this book is faulty. Just because a country such as Canada is considered "ethical" (as Levant continually tells the reader) does not mean everything it produces or exports (such as tar sands oil) is ethical.
The science is also troubling. (Being a former tobacco lobbyist and having no scientific credentials, Levant doesn't really care about the science.) It shows that Alberta tar sands contribute to about 5 percent of Canada's greenhouse emissions and are Canada's fastest growing source of emissions. As of early 2011, they had disturbed a large area of boreal forest with little or no chance of true reclamation, using enormous amounts of water and polluting the surrounding air and water.
In the summer of 2010, an independent, peer-reviewed scientific study showed that toxic by-products from the tar sands extraction industry are poisoning a nearby river, putting downstream Aboriginal communities and the fish they consume at significant risk. Health studies show that these communities already have elevated rates of rare cancers associated with exposure to such toxins.
If Canada sells tar sands oil to countries with poor human-rights records, like China, does that effect the oil's "ethical" nature? And just how "ethical" are the companies operating in the tar sands? For example Exxon Mobile, well-known sponsor of climate-change disinformation campaigns or BP, responsible for the massive oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. There's also the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on our children and grandchildren--considered by many to be an intergenerational crime.
No matter what Levant says, oil has never been about "ethics." It's always been about (surprise, surprise) money (something Levant knows a lot about). Those like Levant who argue the case for "ethical oil" should work to ensure that our energy needs are met in a truly ethical way, now and into the future.
Finally, why hasn't this book an index? A wealth of information is presented but there's no easy access to it.
In conclusion, this book by former tobacco industry lobbyist Ezra Levant is an opinion-piece. It attempts to re-brand the dirty oil found in Canada's tar sands as "ethical oil."
(first published 2010; introduction; 12 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 235 pages; acknowledgements; sources)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethical Oil,
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Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands by Ezra Levant (Paperback - May 3 2011)
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