22 March, 2008

no. 16: look what we've allowed to happen

it saddens me that I come from a place that has allowed this to happen:

where the extraction of oil comes at a cost of one barrel of oil for every two removed. where human life is marginalised to the point that young rig workers are being housed in sub-standard prison-like conditions, drug use and prostitution run rampant, and the people who used to live happy lives in these cities and towns prior to the boom now fear for their lives while driving the highways, and can’t go out at night without worrying about being molested. where our political leader electioneered a promise to look into down-stream health concerns (of massively elevated incidences of cancer) only if we voted for him. where the strip mining can be seen from the moon. where the world’s largest sulfur pile is not even visible in these photos. where propane cannons explode at regular intervals to prevent birds from landing in the oil-slicked sludge. and where the revenue from these ’investments’ is being taken out of our country by the big companies, and what revenue we, the people living here, are supposed to be getting has been mis-managed, not collected, and hardly at all invested.

I am ashamed.

From TreeHugger:

Environmental Defence just released a new report on the Alberta Oil Sands, calling it the most destructive project on Earth. DeSmogblog gleaned some facts from it:

-Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.
-At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.
-Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.
-The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. -The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
-Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

More pictures here, courtesy of the Globe and Mail, and Edward Burtynsky.