Stop the oil sands from twisting Canada into a society it wouldn't like: NYTimes

Canada can't stop itself regarding its oil economy, so maybe President Obama can help, according to a much-viewed opinion piece in the New York Times.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, who teaches global governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, writes in a Sunday commentary column that the Americans should stop Keystone XL so Canada can free itself from becoming a "petro-state":

Also, bitumen is junk energy. A joule, or unit of energy, invested in extracting and processing bitumen returns only four to six joules in the form of crude oil. In contrast, conventional oil production in North America returns about 15 joules. Because almost all of the input energy in tar sands production comes from fossil fuels, the process generates significantly more carbon dioxide than conventional oil production.

There is a less obvious but no less important reason many Canadians want the industry stopped: it is relentlessly twisting our society into something we don’t like. Canada is beginning to exhibit the economic and political characteristics of a petro-state.

Countries with huge reserves of valuable natural resources often suffer from economic imbalances and boom-bust cycles. They also tend to have low-innovation economies, because lucrative resource extraction makes them fat and happy, at least when resource prices are high.

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The popular commentary piece is fourth-most emailed story at the New York Times and is on the front page of Reddit, a leading social news site.

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