Saturday, November 22, 2014

Windshield wipers on horses

Blackstrap prairie . . . and no pipelines in sight.
I was more or less indifferent about the Keystone Pipeline. It wouldn't be crossing my yard, I didn't live down river from the oil sands and I'm not a trained environmentalist. I'm just an ordinary guy who coughs and sneezes when the air is foul and a worrier about the future of mankind if we don't start seriously switching to non-carbon energy sources soon. Those were the thoughts that idled through my brain after listening to the endless quarrels.

But I've come to oppose it for a simple, more personal reason.

They say getting oil safely to the Gulf of Mexico makes the pipeline essential. I guess I can accept that; Lac Megantic illustrated for us the very real hazards in moving petroleum products by rail. The argument, though, "begs the question:" it's a fallacy in logic. To be shown to be a reasonable argument, the need to move oil to the Gulf at all must first be established. It hasn't. At least not in my presence. The range of options as regards oil sands crude is broad, the transportation to the Gulf for processing and distribution being but one possibility.

The errors of logic don't stop there; that the pipeline is vital to the Canadian economy assumes that alternative investments wouldn't deliver similar results. I can't recall where I read it, but the thrust was of the near certainty that research, development and implementation in the renewable energy sector will be the wave of prosperity in the near future, and that the demand for fossil fuels will diminish in inverse proportion. If this is a sound prediction, then Keystone may have begun its slide into obsolescence about the time it's finished.

There are lots of arguments out there opposing Keystone; the environmentalists and scientists would come up with a whole catalog at the drop of a hat, I expect. I'm language-and-logic obsessed, I guess, and so my exception to Keystone Pipeline lies in that area. The project is extremely poorly supported in the reason and logic areas. The premises on which the arguments for the absolute need of a pipeline rest are shaky at best, false at worst.

And for any proponents of the project who don't know the difference between a non sequitur and a hand saw or who don't recognize when an argument "begs the question," I offer a simple explanation:
Suppose a couple builds a house and while shopping for plumbing stuff, the man's eyes fall on a lawn fertilizer sale so he buys a big bag of it. When the wife asks, "Why all the fertilizer?" the man says, "Well it's logical. We'll need it for our lawn! And it was on sale!" "Really?" says the wife. "We haven't even explored properly whether or not a lawn is what we ought to have!"

The man's logic is impeccable--except for the fact that it "begs a question" that renders it as stupid as windshield wipers on a horse.

It's Keystone Pipeline logic.

And that's why I oppose it.

Let's put the wife in the allegory in charge; our current government is far too busy shopping for more and more fertilizer!

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