If we're not going to drill for it, why not let the "nice" people of this planet do it. And who's nicer than Canadians?
Kudos to EthicalOil.org. In the space of 30 seconds, the non-profit group has managed to enrage an entire kingdom, put an army of lawyers to work, and make the front page of newspapers across Canada. All thanks to a television ad which does nothing but state a set of facts, and posit a choice between two products, one produced “ethically” and the other “unethically”.
The answer is that the concept of ethical oil poses a huge dilemma for the left, because it exposes a truth they would prefer to ignore. The reality is that the oil they love to hate makes modern civilization possible. The world is not going to end its dependence on fossil fuels any time soon, indeed, until other forms of energy are price-competitive. This will only happen when oil becomes too expensive, either due to scarcity or the invention of a cheaper (read: non-subsidized) form of alternative energy.
Until that happens, the ethical thing to do is not to eschew all fossil fuels, but to make choices between their sources, just as we have done with other products. To wit: Conflict diamonds are no longer cool. Running shoes made with child labour have become verboten. An international boycott of South African products helped bring the apartheid regime to its knees. All of these goods were boycotted based on human rights concerns – just like oil from Saudi Arabia should be.
The Saudis have made it official to the government of Canada that they're not hip to being called out for their dismal human rights record. Given the huge economic stake our neighbors have in what's setting right beneath their feet vs. their somewhat squishy free speech rights protections, it will be interesting to see what happens.
But why this response from the Saudis? What do they have to worry about? Perhaps they see the handwriting on the wall. Maybe they see what an utter waste the West's massive subsidization of green energy has been before even we wake up to that realization and are making a pre-emptive strike.
Come 2012, we may see a change in leadership in this country that re-prioritizes the energy agenda to where we are going after known quantities (yes, drilling) that will in turn create jobs and wealth that will, in turn, privately subsidize the development of green energy to be used on a larger scale at a later date as its maturity will determine that its competitive in the free market.