To hear Big Oil and its political minions tell it, the Athabasca Tar Sands will be restored to their pristine state once the black sludge is finally gone. This stands right up there with their promise, lo these many years, that they're going to capture their carbon emissions and bury them safely underground. Of course these promises all seem terrific until someone actually takes a hard look at them.
Now scientists are speaking out, challenging Big Oil's reclamation promise.
...academic reseachers point out at least half the region's wetlands will be permanently lost. They say millions of tonnes of carbon will be released.
Stable ecosystems may take generations to develop and their final state is unpredictable, while hundreds of square kilometres of pristine bogs, marshes and fens are slated to be torn up at a pace that far outstrips reclamation.
"It makes us angry because they will put some kind of plants back on the landscape, but it will not look the way it was and it will not have the same type of functions," said Suzanne Bayley, a University of Alberta biologist who has been studying the region for nearly two decades.
"Thinking that wetlands, or in (the oilsands) case, those peatlands are going to go back to natural states, it's basically unlikely," said David Moreno-Mateos, a biologist at the University of California Berkeley who recently published an analysis of 621 restored wetlands around the world.
"We don't know the right way to bring them back."
In a world in which water is set to become the new oil and in, of all places, a province in which future water security is iffy at best, the potential destruction of vast wetlands points to pretty dysfunctional, grab and run thinking.
Oh well, I suppose British Columbia may be able to sell them some of our surplus water - at $200 a barrel. Just kiddin'. No, I'm not.