Howdy folks! It's a week before class starts, and because I'm evil I'm already accumulating materials that I want you to take a look at. Nasty, huh?
Next Monday we'll be talking about the Keystone XL pipeline which is in the news again. Here's the New York Times' page where they list their various coverage of the issue. Take a few minutes and look back at the coverage at least through early 2014.
The short version is that although there are pipelines all over the place (see map at the bottom of the linked page), the Federal Government has to get involved in this one because it crosses an international border. As a result, environmental groups saw this as a chance to slow down the development of the Canadian tar sands, which are a pretty nasty source of oil. By "nasty" I mean that mining the tar sands creates more than usual above-ground damage, and that compared to other sources it takes more energy/ chemicals/ money to turn it into usable oil. The fight has dragged on for at least five years: here's a 2010 article in the NYT on the tar sands.
By the way, I found the pipeline image at the "mother nature network" when it was linked to by oilprice.com, but it doesn't imply that they are harmless: apparently there have been over 1400 spills since 2010 just in the US. Just yesterday, Sunday 1/18, there was another spill near Yellowstone National Park. That said, there are other threats that may be as damaging, and if the pipeline isn't built then things may actually be worse, as moving out oil by rail carloads is much more labor-intensive and dangerous. So! Lots to think about.
Other issues that caught my eye recently:
Fears about how climate change threatens the oceans and
Guess who's the #3 emitter of carbon? (China and the US are #'s 1 & 2)