Fossil fuel extraction and transport projects have a presumptive social warrant. Local opposition or environmental standards may sometimes trump that warrant, but the heuristic applied defaults to positive, to yes.Well, um, yeah. What he said.
That attitude simply isn't commensurate with the urgency that climate change imposes. Limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees means not burning 80 percent of the fossil fuel reserves already available to us. At the rate we're going, we're going to burn through that 20 percent in just a few decades. There's got to be some decisions made somewhere not to dig it up, not to build distribution infrastructure for it — to leave it in the ground.
Getting there means removing that presumptive social warrant, the default yes. It means creating a new heuristic: fossil fuels must be reduced as fast as practically possible. It means creating a new default answer to fossil fuel infrastructure: no, unless a case can be made that the climate damage is worth it. This wouldn't mean cutting off all fossil fuels tomorrow, despite the crude caricatures painted of activists. But it would mean steadily raising the bar, changing a defeasible presumption of innocence to a defeasible presumption of guilt.
Go read the whole thing. It will probably be the most important thing you read about climate this month:
What critics of the Keystone campaign misunderstand about climate activism