Andrew Weaver, the respected Canada research chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis at the University of Victoria, and a lead author with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently confirmed what we’ve been saying for a long time: The demonization of Alberta’s oil sands is vastly disproportionate to its actual impact.

Activist Bill McKibben has called the oil sands a global “carbon bomb.” Their development will be “game over for the planet,” said James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The oil sands have become the whipping boy of the global environmental movement, which also is fighting a proxy war against the oil sands by opposing the Keystone and Northern Gateway pipelines.

Yet, developing the oil sands will not result in climate Armageddon. Extracting the resource will not be game over for the planet. As for a carbon bomb, there is one of nuclear proportions, but it is not the oil sands. It is coal, as we have repeatedly noted in attempting to bring some perspective to the shrill rhetoric surrounding the oil sands.

An analysis conducted by Weaver and co-author Neil Swart about the impact of various fossil fuels on future global temperatures reaffirms this.

As for the current state of affairs, they offer this: “If only the reserve under active development were combusted, the warming would be almost undetectable at our significance level.” Burning the world’s coal reserves, by comparison, would have a warming potential of almost 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

The study appeared in the publication Nature Climate Change, an affiliate of the highly respected science journal, Nature.

— Calgary Herald, Alberta, Feb. 24

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