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Textverständnis und Analyse: Sachtext "There’s oil up there move ahead on pipeline from Canada"


  1. Delineate the author’s argumentation. (30 BE)
  2. Relate the text to other ecological problems in material dealt with in class.  (35 BE)



In his article “There’s Oil up there: Move Ahead on Pipeline from Canada”, published in the Chicago Tribune in 2011 the author puts forward his reasons why the Obama administration should grant quick permission for a new oil pipeline from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico.

After oil deposits were found in the Canadian province of Alberta, the US has reacted rather cautiously to a large-scale pipeline project that would pump millions of barrels of crude oil through the USA down to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists, among them well-known public figures, have brought on their protests against such a scheme warning against the destruction of boreal forest and ancient peat bogs. Moreover they fear that the exploitation of yet another oil resource would only contribute to even more emissions and carbon in the atmosphere. Another of the opponents’ arguments is the danger of pipeline leaks that might cause unratable environmental damage.

The author on the other hand is of the opinion that the technology for the exploitation of oil sands is getting better. He also points out that strict inspections and high safety standards make leaks highly unlikely. Because of the fact that the building of the pipeline would be a cross-border project, it would cause a lot of bureaucracy that might further delay the building process. And as Canada has already threatened to build a pipeline to the Pacific and to make business with China instead of with the USA, the author believes that there is no time to waste for the US.

(258 words)


The discovery of new oil resources has always divided the minds. While economic and political leaders of the country concerned usual hail the discovery as a lucrative income source and an important means of gaining independence from other oil-producing countries, ecologists mostly fear the destruction of nature and the emission of yet more greenhouse gases.

But there are other ecological problems that cause a similar stir. One of them is the deforestation of thousands of acres of rainforest in the Amazon or South East Asia every year for agricultural purposes. Not only do lumberjacks cut down the trees for their own value. Large areas of rainforest are burnt, often illegally, to make way for vast cattle farms and palm oil plantations. The rising demand of meat and the large-scale use of palm oil for the cosmetic industry and as an addition to mineral oil has led many unscrupulous businesses to destroy a natural resource on which life on Earth indisputably depends. As the “green lung” of the Earth the rainforest is indispensable for absorbing the CO2 in the atmosphere and for transforming it into life-sustaining oxygen. In view of the rising CO2 emissions due to the economic hunger of industrialised nations as well as emerging countries like China or Brazil, the rainforest becomes even more vital. As with the new oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, economic interests clash with efforts to save our planet. A further destruction of the rainforest will lead to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus speed up the process of global warming.   

Another great ecological problem of the last decade is the rising amount of electronic waste that has been produced due to the digital revolution. Laptops, tablet PCs and mobile phones contain many rare and expensive earth metals as well as components that can be harmful to the environment and to our health. The fact that we nowadays change our electronic devices every few months in search for the latest technology has made the disposal of electronic waste a serious problem. Many of our discarded gadgets are disposed of in countries like Ghana or China where health and safety standards are low and where workers are paid starvation wages. Computers, mobile phones and other devices are dissembled for whatever metals and parts can be reused or sold, often by workers who do not wear any protective clothing. The rest is very often burnt unchecked. When toxic metals leak into the ground this causes environmental problems such as water and soil contamination, which also increase the risk of cancer and other serious illnesses in these areas. Thus our hunt for the latest smartphone or tablet PC has a very serious side-effect of which many people are not even aware.

Even at a time when the conservation of our planet has become an issue of major concern, economic interests still very often clash with this vital goal. Arguments like industrial growth or the preservation of workplaces are frequently used to set environmental protection at nought.

(504 words)

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