Letter of the Day (May 3): North Dakota oil

  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 7:51 PM
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Natural gas is burned off at an oil well east of Williston, North Dakota.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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When I awoke May 1 to the headline “North Dakota oil field is 7-billion-barrel giant,” I knew I was still living in the asylum. Mentioned nowhere in the article were the environmental consequences of fully exploiting this find.

Based upon 19 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gasoline (from “How gasoline becomes CO2,” a 2006 article in Slate) exploiting the North Dakota oil would put 4.7 billion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Given that we are at the highest amount of CO2 (400 parts per million) in the atmosphere in the last 3 million years, and that are very quickly going to melt the Arctic ice cap, which will put us over the tipping point and melt the permafrost and release many more billion of tons of methane, I wonder why that landmark wasn’t the front-page story.

No, I really do not want to ask how many jobs will be created in North Dakota, but want to know how the world will feed itself when our crops continually fail, and whether my kids can get entry into Canada before that country puts up its fence.

Michael Miles, Victoria

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