Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another Tar Sands Fantasy Challenged

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.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Can you tell me when this big scary apocalypse is going to happen so I can sell my house and get out of Dodge?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Mound of Sound said...

No I'm sorry Way Way Up Yours. I don't think you'll be able to sell your house. You might have to just give it back to the bank.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. This post just makes it seems as if this whole area around our city is some bleak hell hole. As someone who lives here I can assure you this is far from the reality.

But really, we're used to the snipes's nothing new. Nice to have at least one "have' province to pay for all the "have nots".

Anonymous said...

Well since it's the expansive resource exploitation of the "have" provinces that raises the exchange rate and kills manufacturing in the "have nots"... well, do you want the country to succumb to Dutch disease?

Most Canadians aren't even gaining much from a more valuable dollar. Strangely it hasn't mattered whether the exchange rate is 63 cents US or 101 cents US. The dollar consistently buys the same goods in Canada as about 82 cents does in the US.

If Alberta had its own floating currency, I don't think there would be the same need for it to participate in equalization. (but an additional currency would really complicate other things)

The Mound of Sound said...

Actually WWU, no one is saying the entire area is a wasteland. Far from it. But the parts that are being exploited on a "never, never" deferred remediation plan ought to be a concern.

While I gather you're a relative newcomer from eastern Canada, I have a somewhat longer grasp of the Tar Sands, their reckless exploitation and the resulting boom & bust cycles.

Under Peter Lougheed, Alberta used to bank its oil royalties. Now it just pisses them away and, in the process, generates its own overheated economy that inevitably backfires.

You should spend some time looking at pre-OPEC oil production in Alberta. Until a global cartel came into existence, Alberta was entirely dependent on above-world-oil market pricing for its product in eastern Canada. In other words the rest of the country subsidized Alberta and its oil patch.

When Ralph Klein was in power, he tried to have it both ways, seeking an agreement for a floor price for when world oil prices collapsed and no ceiling for when they soared.

Then again I suppose reciting Alberta's history is "sniping" to some.

Anonymous said...

Ya I I said, we're used to it.

Anyong said...

You may have seen this before however here it is again. A bit old since there is a new Premier in Alberta. To the Last Drop

Anonymous said...

You'd be amazed how many things here come from Ontario. But of course when you run your economy into the ground its very easy for certain premiers to point fingers.