Canada’s Wilderness and Earth’s Atmosphere Victim to Oil Sands

Development of oil sands in northern Alberta is just beginning to ramp up with predictable dire consequences for Canada's forest landscapes and the Earth's atmosphere. Oil sands are one of several possible unconventional oil and gas sources (others include tar sands, shale oil, coal bed methane and coal gasification) that are abundant and highly polluting. The growing oil sands industry will destroy massive areas of Canada's boreal forest, require huge volumes of water, and result in increased emissions that cause acid rain. And if as conventional oil and natural gas fade we turn increasingly to oil sands and further use of coal, there is no way that climate change can ever be addressed. The atmosphere can not absorb all the carbon dioxide and pollutants found in these fuels and the further expansion of oil sands and coal really is the death knell for a functional and stable atmospheric system. As more traditional sources of oil and natural gas grow scarce, it is unconscionable that the fossil fuel industries are turning towards coal and oil sands rather than renewable energy. The biggest and cheapest source of energy is conservation and greater efficiency. Humanity can and must choose to not develop these highly polluting energy sources.

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10 Responses

  1. Maria L. Butler says:

    It troubles me deeply that, with the world's governments in control, when a dire situation presents itself, the answer is always more destructive than what had caused the problem to begin with. How is it that our world's leaders find it so hard to learn the lessons that resulted in the dire situation????

  2. Joy Dyar says:

    It troubles me deeply that, with the world's governments in control, when a dire situation presents itself, the answer is always more destructive than what had caused the problem to begin with. How is it that our world's leaders find it so hard to learn the lessons that resulted in the dire situation? It seems like all of the goverentments would learn, but they support big busniess. What will happen to our planet when all of the natural resorces are gone? The rain forsts and the forests in the mountains supply the earth with air to breath, they keep the soil from erroding.. and if you start drilling for oil where they think there might be a tiny bit of oil, the land is ruined. the wild life, have no food to graze, no place to raise their young,the fish in the rivers, and streams die because of the polutiants in the water from the drilling sites. Would the people in the governments, like it if they didn't have a place to raise their children, had no food for them to eat, no air to breath cause all the trees and shrubs are gone, no water to drink cause it is posion…WAKE UP,and look around, the earth as we know it is about to be lost for ever.

  3. John McCormick says:

    Glen,
    Add coal liquifaction to your list of unconventials. South Africa's SASOL has been producing and refining a syncrude derived from a coal liquifaction process it continues to refine and is ready to market.
    In the mid-1970s I and a small group of Washington enviros defeated two Congressional proposals to subsidized a one million barrel per day synfuel industry that would have relied on federally guaranteed loans as the financial incentive to create gasification, oil shale and coal liquifaction facilities in the Eastern, Midwest and Rockies. At that time, oil shale production costs pushed the market price of a barrel to about $60. Today, costs would be in the range of about a $100 barrel. I follow the peak oil discussion closely and believe we are about 10 years from that oil cost territory. That is one decade to prepare for an inevitability.
    I also read your piece on 'losing hope'. I too am slipping into that fog when the future path is no longer clear and risk of stumbling, falling begin to affect my choice of paths, even my sense of balance.
    You speak the truth about the conditions of our planet, its atmoshpere and biological systems. For that, you are criticized by those who want to deny the extent of the cancer we are inflicting upon our earth – our home.
    I commented to you several weeks ago that you are pointing in the wrong direction by chastizing the 'viscious' corporations when it is really us consumers who demand the oil, paper, extra fries and McMansions equipped with large screen plasma screens in every room. I was pleased to see you call them (us) 'fat-assed Americans'.
    A vivid description; but the darker side of fat asses is they (we) have to pay our mortgages, credit card debts, college loans and higher energy costs. Those of us not wrapped in the rapture are growing scared and anxious.
    They (we) need to hear there is something out there looking out for our best interests and – not surprisingly though sadly – there is no time or investment in conserving our way out of America's downward spiral.
    Certainly our US Treasury is bankrupt and Congress cannot find the extra dollars to subsidize this winter's heating costs for poor and elderly.
    You might shut me off at this point but I propose that we continue talking outloud of the hopelessness of our predicament and paint as bleak a picture of the future as Wall Street can tolerate.
    It is not the federal government that will regulate a remedy or buy us out of this mess — there is no money in the cookie jar.
    Private sector has been our drug dealer and will continue to supply whatever we are willing to buy. It is also the harvest of talent, capital and long-term vested, economic and other personal gain interests needed to make the changes you and I know are almost beyond reach.
    I believe pension funds, mutual funds, investment speculators share some of our concerns. WE know the insurance industry is coming around to our understanding of the penalties of business as usual.
    Are you ready to “Speak truthfully about the
    Earth's condition, diagnosing the situation using the best possible
    ecological science and ecological intuition. And propose only solutions
    of a magnitude likely to be sufficient in providing long-term solutions.” to the private sector and get it to see its long term interests are severely impacted by what you know to be the truth? ….long sentence and a much longer path not travelled.
    John McCormick

  4. I want the society i live in today to appericate thoes of us who are willing to live simple in order to preserve the world for our future generations. I want our leaders to take action and more involvement in makeing that possible. Give us the renewable energy that we want now before you destroy our worlds natural resourses.

  5. Does the use of “liquid coal” or “biomass” used in diesel type engines, give off some 20% less carbon pollutants compared with traditional fuels? What is the state of CTL (coal to liquid) technology?
    Does CTL include coal to oil, and what other fuels that will burn efficiently in diesel-type engines? Who is doing research in these technologies?

  6. WaltDe says:

    Very good reading. Peace until next time.
    WaltDe

  7. Oil Drilling Bits

    Instead, she says, environmental restrictions were actually weak

  8. Acid Rain says:

    Acid Rain

    As lakes become more acidic biodiversity is reduced. It has harmful effects on

  9. Clay Graves says:

    Re.McCormic's comment:Many
    people, including me, certainly agree with your
    stand. Consumers are supplying the money to con-
    tinue the demand for paper and oil,etc., yes.
    The megacorps continue to messmerize us to conform, by their control and thoro use of the media.
    It makes it very hard for
    consumers to wake up from bein lulled, in order to
    stop supporting the corpor-
    ate greed.
    Looks like it will take
    more trauma than high
    gasoline prices to wake us
    up enough to start an effec-
    tive revolution vs corporate
    gluttony; OR do we really enjoy being the victims of vampirism, too much in order to take united action?
    The more blood given,
    the stronger the vampire.

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