The Ethics of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Hi everyone,

This was my final paper in my ethics class this past semester & I just thought I’d share my thoughts on this issue.

*Note* I know this does not encompass this entire issue, it was a 6-8 page paper, and I had to write this within some guidelines.



Jennifer V. Kurland

Water hoses being sprayed on peaceful protests was a game changer for the Civil Rights Movement when those images were broadcast to the public on TV. When similar, yet more brutal tactics were used on water protectors protesting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the media was missing in action. Native people in the United States are victims of genocide from the onset of our country’s founding, and still today struggle for the basic human rights supposedly guaranteed to all people under the Constitution. The Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction against the wishes of the Standing Rock Sioux is just one more injustice piled on to this sordid history. There is no ethical justification that would allow this pipeline to continue decimating the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s ancestral burial grounds and treaty territory.

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Climate Denial on the Right and the Left

Climate change denial has several forms. Some are not as easy to recognize as Donald Trump’s. With the Donald, denial is obvious and even overt. “It’s just a Chinese hoax!” is, if not an exact quote, at least a very accurate paraphrase. Whether the other Republicans all blame the Chinese or not, many of them say they do not “believe in” climate change, or at least do not believe that it is caused by the actions of mankind.

There’s also a form that does not outright deny climate change, but ends up with exactly the same policy prescriptions as outright deniers. A good example of this is Rex Tillerson, current Chair of Exxon-Mobil and possibly the next United States Secretary of State. At the 2015 shareholder’s meeting, he explained his take on climate. He said that he did not think the results of climate models were sufficiently reliable for policy making and, in any case, his view is that technical and engineering solutions will be found to overcome all impacts, as has been the case in the past. In other words, with simple faith in scientific progress for the future, we can simply ignore climate change in the present. It’s not direct denial, it’s indirect. We can study the subject, but there’s no need to come to any conclusion or take any action based on that study. Continue reading

Predicting the 2016 Election

First, a disclaimer. While this essay is published on the Green Party of Michigan blog, this is strictly my own personal opinion and does not represent a position of GPMI. It might provoke some discussion in the comments, and that might be a good thing.

My prediction is that in November, someone will win the presidency with the support, as counted by votes, of 25-30% of the eligible voters. It’s phrased that way because a good number of voters will be unenthusiastic about casting a vote for whoever they consider the lesser of two evils. “Support” is actually too strong a word to describe all of those who will vote for Trump or Hillary.

70-75% of us will be disappointed the moment the results are announced, and a good portion of the 25-30% will be disappointed in a year or two. That’s because while there are lots of legitimate reasons for voting for or against presidential candidates, neither of the ‘mainstream’ candidates will actually succeed in carrying out their promises of economic prosperity. Continue reading

What? Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground?

There are three powerful reasons to support the policy “Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground.” They all converge on the conclusion that, not only is it a good idea to leave fossil fuels in the ground, it’s a necessity. The only question is whether this will happen with minimal bad effects on our lives or with terrible ones.

In other words, while it might be a serious inconvenience for all of us who have gotten used to cars, air conditioning and vacation resorts, the alternative is economic collapse and disaster if we don’t move away from fossil fuels in a deliberate fashion. Continue reading

Flying to a hotter planet

Peter Kalmus presents, in his yes! magazine article, a serious point of view on the issue of flying – and flying is an issue, or should be, for anyone who understands that globalwarming/climate change/carbon emission is a problem. Of particular interest is the method by which he came to the conclusion that, if he personally wanted to minimize his personal contribution to global warming, the first thing he should do is stop flying for any reason. Continue reading

Car Culture Poisons Flint

It may seem that we’ve already heard all there is to hear about what went so wrong that Flint’s water system poisoned Flint residents. In reality, there’s much more to hear, and much more needs to be done to fix the issues that are fixable. Some problems, like children whose development is already damaged because of lead, can’t actually be fixed. Some, like corrosive water in the Flint River, can.

So whose fault is it? It’s the fault of the Genesee County Road Commission. This sounds completely illogical if you’ve never heard the idea before, but keep reading for a few short paragraphs and you’ll see why it’s true.  Continue reading