Blair King Profile picture
May 17, 2018 22 tweets 18 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Amused last night to be informed that:

"I just think you suffer from reductionist thinking"

As a practitioner in the natural sciences that is like being told you "suffer from being too attractive and too popular". As insults go it is one I can wear #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 1/
In the field of energy and pipelines thinking in a reductionist style means recognizing that we will still need ambulances and firetrucks in any energy future so any solution I come up with needs to include those types of services #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 2/
Being a reductionist (and a pragmatist) means acknowledging that sometimes you have to make the best of a number of imperfect choices because choosing not to make a choice is actually a choice, a choice to do nothing #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 3/
When I ask the activist whether they prefer tankers or oil-by-rail and their response is: neither. I go back to the ambulance and the reductionist in me asks: what will you use to power the ambulances we have on the street now? #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 4/
Invariably the activist retorts with: "well we should only use electric ambulances". This non-answer ignores the fact that we still don't have an electric ambulance fleet and will not have one for decades. That is reductionist thinking #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 5/
The reductionist (or pragmatic) environmentalist looks at the state of our society now, the rate of transition, and the maximum possible rate of transition and acknowledges that we will need liquid fossil fuels for the foreseeable future #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 6/
The activists counter with: "but we are ruining our planet we have to stop using fossil fuels yesterday" and my response once again is a reductionist and pragmatic one: so who are you willing to sacrifice? #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 7/
We live in a global community with huge challenges and climate change is only one of those challenges. It is an important one but it is not the only one. In many developing nations climate change isn't even on the radar #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 8/
If your family is struggling to find food to eat today and tomorrow the challenges of climate change in a decade seems a pretty inconsequential concern. 1.2 billion humans live in energy poverty… #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 9/
each year 4.3 million people die from preventable indoor air pollution directly resulting from that energy poverty.… These people don't care about climate change and we have to address their misery as well #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 10/
We also have to recognize that the nations whose citizens are suffering under that poverty are going to demand the right to get their citizens out of energy poverty even if it risks increasing the likelihood of climate change #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 11/
As a reductionist and pragmatic environmentalist that is what fees my holistic world-view a recognition that we have to make changes but need to situate those changes in a world where every decision has possible negative consequences #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 12/
This is why I support our domestic #LNG industry because while it may potentially cause BC to miss our Paris Agreement commitments it will help to reduce global carbon emissions and it is the global numbers that matter to a reductionist #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 13/
Going back to the beginning reductionist/pragmatic approaches represent how we will actually achieve our environmental goals because in the real world not making a decision means making a decision for the status quo and the status quo isn't working #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 14/
It means accepting @TransMtn as the safest way to move the fossil fuels we need and which then allows the Alberta gov't to sell their Climate Leadership Plan which involves massive investment to reduce their dependence on coal for energy #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 15/
It means Alberta investing to make their bitumen the low-carbon possible. They have already made huge strides and with solvent-aided SAGD they may make it some of the lowest-carbon heavy oils out there #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 16/
But mostly it means looking at each decision and establishing if it is moving us in the right direction. Not the perfect direction but the right direction because we live in the real world and if we wait for perfect we will get nothing #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 17/
To conclude I will return to the activists who say that I am just accepting that climate change will ruin the world, I ask: what is your actual plan? How will you keep hospitals running while we transition off fossil fuels #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 18/
What will you as activists do to ensure that those 1.2 billion people in energy poverty don't die in misery? Perhaps it means Greenpeace not fighting every nuclear plant on the planet #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 19/
Maybe it means activists not fighting Golden Rice with its ability to reduce the misery and blindness for millions in the developing world. The world needs more environmentalists who look at the world with a reductionist's eye view #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 20/
Pragmatic environmentalists who acknowledge that perfection is not possible and so choose the least damaging of the various options on the table because doing so will save the most lives and protect the most habitat #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 21/
Because one thing we all seem to forget is that we share this planet with trillions of non-humans and they need their space to live, thrive and survive as well and we know that human poverty is incredibly hard on the non-humans on this planet #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli 22/

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More from @BlairKing_ca

Aug 22, 2018
@ghoberg Fascinated by the language, content and references in this syllabus. It almost appears like it is designed to elicit a specific response from the students. It is interesting what information is missing and which references were chosen to represent the info. 1/
@ghoberg Let's start with the activist's favourite starting point. Any document that starts introduces the project with the term "Texas-based oil and gas company" bound to have issues. 2/
@ghoberg Then introducing the project you somehow forget to note that Line 1 is intended to supply refined fuels and light crudes, instead implying that it will be used in the same way as it was when there was only 1 line. 3/
Read 8 tweets
Jul 31, 2018
Scientists are supposed to get the science right in articles like this. Yet this piece misinforms about the relative effect on the boreal forest; on the toxicity of dilbit; on spill response; and on shipping and processing. #bcpoli #cdnpoli #abpoli @sjmuir 1/
The article implies that mining is a risk to the Boreal Forest. The area it is technically possible to mine oil sands represents less than 0.02% of the Canadian Boreal forest, less that 0.01% is being mined. More area burns most years than is mined #bcpoli #cdnpoli #abpoli 2/
The article gets the chemistry of dlibit completely wrong. Dilbit has much less benzene than a typical light crude oil and diluent is almost entirely aliphatic in nature. Don't get me started on her use of the word "tar" #bcpoli #cdnpoli #abpoli 3/
Read 7 tweets
Jun 20, 2018
The real problem with the @TransMtn file is that the people involved have allowed themselves to be misinformed on so many levels This Guardian piece is the result of years of misinformation piled up on itself. It is hard to fight this type of message #bcpoli #abpoli @keithbaldrey
Diluted bitumen is not the most toxic type of oil, an analysis of the relative risks of the alternatives to the TMX (yes we do have to consider the alternatives) mean much higher risk to the Salish Sea, but we don't hear that because that is not the story the activists tell 2/
The activists pretend that if they stop the pipeline then magically all fossil fuels will stop. But the Puget Sound and BC will still need fuels and they will be coming in less safe means because they won't have the new NEB requirements 3/
Read 9 tweets
May 16, 2018
I find the most frustrating thing about talking to activists is that since none of them have any reasonable education in the field of environmental science/history that we don't have a common baseline for a reasonable dialogue 1/ #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli
These film students and political scientists don't understand the language of toxicity, they have no grounding in empirical science and have no understanding of what we have learned from the past. They imagine they are the first to have had ideas 2/ #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli
We advance science and other empirical fields by incremental advances in the knowledge-base. We build on ideas and research carried out in the past. This knowledge-base is passed on through environmental education 3/ #bcpoli #abpoli #cdnpoli
Read 11 tweets
Apr 11, 2018
Listened to @AJWVictoriaBC on the @CBCStephenQuinn and the number of errors he made was stunning. Alberta oils aren't even the dirtiest oil in North America that comes from California (Placerita oil field). The dirtiest oil in world is Nigerian (Bass oil field) #bcpoli #abpoli 1/
He keeps harping back to the RSC report but it is almost as if he hasn't read that report because it doesn't say what he keeps claiming it does… #bcpoli #abpoli 2/
He keeps claiming that diluted bitumen is "not oil". That is simply wrong. Certainty bitumen is an unconventional oil but by every definition under the sun it is a type of crude oil. I'm not sure why he keeps making such a demonstrably wrong statement. #bcpoli #abpoli 3/
Read 7 tweets

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