is canadian tar sands oil ethical?

The fossil fuel industry tried to market Canadian tar sands oil as ethical recently. Can anything that adds carbon so drastically to the planet’s atmosphere and endangers the water supply of millions be called “ethical” just because it comes from a country with a democratic government?



  1. 0 Votes

    “Ethical” is a highly subjective concept, and there can be no absolute or uniform agreement as to its application to something like the tar sands. The tar sands just “are.” How they are exploited could be argued about; personally I would say that trying to suggest that the exploitation is either ethical or not ethical is a silly thing to try to do.

  2. 0 Votes

    It could be if it were being developed before we knew about the causes of climate change.  Also, it does not seem ethical for the government of Canada to delegate water quality standards around tar sands sites to industry run monitoring companies.  It is also not ethical to cause higher rates of deadly cancer from leached tar sands chemicals. I suppose you could argue that tar sands development is ethical from a short term universal happiness perspective.  Although, the long term suffering caused by the development of this oil is surely more costly.In other words, yes the oil comes from a democratic government but the longer that the government works with the oil companies, the less democratic it becomes. 

  3. 0 Votes

    To take the other stance on this, oil sands could be considered ethical if it’s helping provide energy to alleviate poverty (to run water pumps, lights, cookstoves, etc.). There are more environmentally friendly ways of providing energy, sure, but you can’t dispute that energy, including energy from oil sands, improves peoples’ lives.

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