Seeing Is Important: The Alberta Tar Sands

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.