2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2015
I thought I know everything there was the know about the Oil Sands, but after reading this book I realized that there are always 2 sides to every story. I thought I was against the Oil Sands because of all the propaganda about it... But this book makes alot of good senses. I like how the author takes you through all the countries that produce oil and how they operate, not just in the industrial, but also environmental and human rights. The author gives you lots of scientific evidence that support the Oil Sands - like how the Oil Sands companies have cut their CO2 emissions by 38% in the last 5 years. The author goes through all the the hype and scandals. How the environmental groups aren't all they make themselves out to be. I was extremely impressed with all the information that was layed out in easy lame-man's terms so I could understand. I'm trying to get everyone I know to read this book so they can see the other side of the "field" and see that even if we were to shut down the Oil Sands we would still be dependent on Oil and that Oil would be coming from another place that has worse environmental, human rights and industrial actions/motives. Do we want our oil that has caused deaths/murder, or the destruction of the environment. Or from a country like Canada free, liberal and tolerant.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2015
Very good read for people wanting to understand the b.s. propaganda for Alberta oilfields. When I first started reading it, I had to do a few fact checks, because the information almost sounds falsified. As I read further into the book. And the more fact checking I had looked into. I'm a reformed anti Alberta oilfields reader. I wish we pumped more oil from tar sands.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2010
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 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.
on June 6, 2015
I just read this book and it is very good. It becomes abundantly clear that Canada's Tar Sands is less worse than several others with respect to environmental impact but also from the perspective that most of the alternative producers are countries with vastly greater human rights violations etc.
It also exposes some disturbing facts about some of the environmental groups, i.e., those that seem to have gone rogue from my perspective!
What really caught my attention was the section on Greenpeace.....
But keep in mind that the issue of climate change remains...... With the right balance between economy and environment, there may still be a chance that Canada could come out on top so as to lead from the environmental perspective without a collapsing economy. This book steers clear of the imminent time line in meeting environmental requirements.
21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2010
This latest book from Ezra Levant was released last Tuesday. As the subtitle suggests, _Ethical Oil_ is an impenitent and unapologetic "case for Canada's oilsands". Though it may be lost on many who are unfamiliar with Levant, this book shares an interesting link with his previous book, _Shakedown_.
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.
23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2011
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 miss the point completely.
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.