In the 21st century, burning hydrocarbons is critical to achieving the economic expansion that is needed to support the billions of new people who are projected to inhabit the planet. Yet chasing that growth could throw so much carbon into the atmosphere that it may undermine humanity’s very survival.
TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $7.6 billion Keystone pipeline system, which would take crude from Alberta’s tar sands down through the Midwest and on to Texas and the Gulf Coast refineries, could be scuttled because of concerns about its potential impact on a major aquifer in Nebraska.
For most of the last century, cheap oil powered global economic growth. But in the last decade, the price of oil has quadrupled, and that shift will permanently shackle the growth potential of the world’s economies.
The Federal Reserve has announced a third round of quantitative easing, a set of asset purchases designed to increase the money supply. It said it would keep easing until job growth accelerates, and continue a “highly accommodative” monetary policy “for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”