Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hey Mike, They're TAR Sands, Not Oil Sands

I wasn't really surprised when the clip came out of Michael Ignatieff praising the "oil sands" as the very future of Canada. Oh sure, he said, we have to do a bit of cleaning up but, hey, once we get that little chore handled it'll be all gravy for a century.

Hey Mike, as usual, you're full of it. Pandering for every vote you can grind out of discarded Liberal principles is costing you as much support as you're bringing in. And, as far as the "Oil Sands" are concerned? Maybe you should read the G&M review of Nikiforuk's new book. It's succinct and makes the points you plainly choose to ignore:

The Alberta tar sands - which boosters like to reposition as the Alberta oil sands because that makes them sound a little cleaner - are Canada's dirty little secret. They are the world's largest energy project, largest construction project and largest capital project, so large that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has likened them to the building of the Egyptian Pyramids or the Great Wall of China.
But their impact on the planet is on a scale that far outpaces those other human-built wonders of the world. And what does it leave? The monument to a thriving culture? No. Open-pit mines. Tailing ponds full of weeping toxic sludge. Masses of local pollution. And enough climate- and ocean-destroying carbon dioxide to make it a world-class catastrophe.
As Nikiforuk shows all too clearly, the massive and growing project gulps fresh water, destroys valuable boreal forest, poisons air, water and soil and uses up a substantial portion of the energy it produces. To wit (using figures Nikiforuk says are conservative): To make one barrel of bitumen, the muck that can eventually be processed into synthetic crude oil, takes an average of three barrels of fresh water and two tons of sand.

That same barrel produces at least 1.3 barrels of fine-tailings toxic waste and an ounce of acid-rain-producing sulphur dioxide. Then it uses up 1,400 cubic feet of natural gas in the upgrading, or a third of the amount of energy the barrel will eventually produce. By the time the sludge is a barrel of processed synthetic crude, it has produced 187 pounds of carbon dioxide, three times as much greenhouse gas as a traditional barrel of oil. And that's before it's burned.

It's a bad deal for the local environment. It's a rotten deal for taxpayers and citizens. The ratcheting up of the atmosphere's carbon dioxide concentrations - both in the natural gas used to extract the tarry sludge and in the destruction of carbon-storing forests and bogs - makes it unconscionable in the larger arena of planetary health. The tar sands are Canada's largest (and growing) source of carbon dioxide.

But don't let the facts get in your way, Michael, when you're just getting started in creating the Illiberal Party of Canada.


LeDaro said...

You can't falter Mike for that. Those were the talking points he received from Warren Kinsella.;)

Chrystal Ocean said...

Oooohhh, am liking this blog more and more.

Facts... such pesky things, aren't they?

kenchapman said...

Tar sands - oil sands! Who cares! It all smacks of Karl Rove if that is the depth of discussion. It avoids the real issue that Life is a Bitumen!

Skinny Dipper said...

It's like gaming and gambling. One plays games while gaming at a casino; one loses his/her shirt while gambling at the same casino.

Anonymous said...

Dear Random Environmentalist,
If you want my attention please do the following: call them the OIL sands. Tar is produced from wood, and has nothing to do with the bitumen produced from the oil sands. When you say 'Tar Sands', I know to immediately stop listening, because you have no idea what you are talking about.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well Anon of 12/16/19 - Here's a tip. Once you "immediately stop listening" you should immediately shut your mouth and piss off. Might as well start now, asshole.