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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.
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on September 5, 2015
every opponent of the oil sands should read this book very educational
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on October 25, 2010
Ezra Levant makes a series of very credible arguements as to why the Athabasca oil sands is the most ethically superior source of new oil production available to help meet the rising global demand for oil. Despite claims to the contrary, Alberta has some of the most stringent environmental standards in the oil producing world (much more so than even California!!!) but more importantly Canada has a tremendous record in human rights and as a believer in world peace and stability. These are aspects that must be considered in any arguement regarding where oil is produced. As long as oil remains part of the energy mix, it ought to be produced in jurisdictions that have sincere environmental concerns and standards, that treat men and women equally, that respect employees and reward them fairly, that are generous with local populations and communities, and that recognize their global responsibilities to help those that are most vulnerable. No oil exporting jurisdiction does all those things better than Canada.
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on September 17, 2010
I am very concerned about the environment but I am also concerned about human rights. Until we find alternative energy solutions we have to be practical. The money from the oil that comes from foreign countries is being used to finance terrorism. This book will explain why we should extract as mush oil as possible from Canada's oil sands.
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on January 18, 2017
Misguided justification for the development of the oil sands
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on May 11, 2012
This book should be mandatory reading for all high school students as well as all adults in North America! Based on proper research the Canadian oil sands is one of the cleanest oil sources in the world. Mr Levant certainly did extensive research before he presented his case. If the protesters and demonstrators are serious about stopping dirty oil getting to market, they should be focusing on the other countries of the world where oil is produced with basically no environmental or human rights concerns addressed at all. But of course they won't because if they tried they would probably never see the light of day again. If anyone is really serious about finding out about where the UNethical oil comes from "just follow the money"
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on March 6, 2014
Ezra Levant provides a perspective based on fact. His use of so many references to other published articles provides support to his support of the oil sands. I will never be at a loss as to the reasons why I feel the oil sands is a great asset to all Canadians and the world as a whole. It is clear that western democracies are held to the highest standard and are the targets of areas of the world who despise their loss of influence/power that they have maintained for generations because of oil. THis book was a great read that truly opened my eyes as to the positives about the oil sands and Canada!!
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on September 14, 2015
Everyone should read this book. Eye opener.
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on June 13, 2014
the book is a critique of environmentalism based on argument for the oil sands. It is a narrative which differs from most anti-oil views of the oil sands because it considers the problem of ethics. The criticism of oil producing regimes for human rights issues differs from the human rights of Canada's oil sands.
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on October 8, 2010
It is about time that someone started writing a more rational evaluation of the pros and cons of Canada's oil sands. Levant makes many good points about examining the oil sands in a wider context, something that most people -- and "environmentalists" -- often fail to do. For example, the tendency of Western environmental groups to focus on the oil sands instead of Chinese industrial pollution or, the real problem; consumer demand, because it is politically expedient to do so. And while I agree with many of Levants arguments his chapters often lose focus and his use of hyperbole often subtracts from the thrust of his argument.
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