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Seeing Is Important: The Alberta Tar Sands

November 5, 2012

We hear a lot of debate about the Keystone Pipeline and the future of oil extraction from tar sands as part of the global energy future. Fron the comfort and isolation of our modern lives it all sounds pretty abstract–with lots of numbers and projections getting thrown around.

But no matter whether you are for or against the big move into tar sands as a next phase of the energy economy (though you should read NASA scientist James Hanson’s take if you think oil from tar sands sounds like a good idea), it’s useful to actually see what tar sand oil extraction is all about, and what it means for a natural landscpe. Thankfully, photographer Ashley Cooper has been documenting exactly that.

Does this–transforming, so far, 725 140,000 of a potential 4,800 square kilometers of Alberta from forest to something otherworldly–look like humanity living in harmony with the earth (full slide show is here)? Isn’t there something intrinsic to this vision that screams out: “STOP! THINK!”

That changes the oil sands debate a lot, no?

You can see more of Cooper’s work documenting climate change here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 5, 2012 11:48 pm

    There’s enough smoke and mirrors going on in the media. But there is a cold reality of simply extracting from the land to get oil. I personally have not visited Fort MacMurray which is over 1,000 km. north of Calgary in same province of Alberta. However in enough photos and hearing about that municipality trying to cope with population growth alongside with oil sands extraction work, it is the last place one would want to live for the sake of “enjoyment”. Unless it’s a pocketful of earned dollars.

    My partner who did work for a major oil firm before retiring. He did indicate that it is expensive and requires significant capital and equipment just to extract oil from the tar sands. Then you are left with a depleted land…

    The corporate head offices of the Canadian oil firms that are doing the extraction, are located in Calgary. So yes, in general Alberta is like Texas: oil and gas industries rule our province’s economy. Yes, there are the occasional folks who walk around with the a corporate fleecy vest or jacket that is emblazoned modestly: xxxxx firm, Oil Sands.

    I would advise readers to read the Canadian news websites, such as Globe and Mail, which is Canada’s national newspaper and keep the articles. Otherwise you will be blocked later, because of the newpaper’s policy to have you pay for archival access. (Not new folks, this e-content model has been around for the last 20 yrs.). The Tyee is another alternative news site with experienced journalists, some who used to work for Vancouver Sun.

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