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Aberta Oil Sands are Doing More than Filling Our Gas Tanks

July 24, 2013

David Suzuki has some strong opinions about the end of economic growth in the name of ecology. This is a short excerpt from a much longer interview he gave, the rest of which can be found at the end of the clip. He makes the point that no one ever had a conversation about what Canada was going to do with its oil sands. In an age where resources are running out, anything that provides a quick, heroin like fix to economic growth is seen as a solution to any financial problems nation states might be experiencing. All over the world one time resource booms have left financial and social ruin in their wake.

Logging, mining, fishing and hunting have all yielded the same results in many different places. Now oil drilling and fracking are producing the same repeatable patterns of boom and bust that seem to be the way mankind likes to do business here on earth. Every time I hear about a new, exciting, less intrusive way to extract resources I wince in pain as it’s almost a foregone conclusion that there will be unforeseen consequences. For example, fracking, and all of the groundwater contamination it has caused and now in situ or cyclic steam stimulation. This method was thought to be a more environmentally friendly way of extracting the oil or tar out of the bitumen, a layer of sticky, nasty coal soil that lies underneath much of Alberta’s old growth boreal forests. Well of course, there were some complications.

To quote the article listed above, cyclic steam stimulation “involves injecting thousands of gallons of superhot, high-pressure steam into deep underground reservoirs. This heats and liquefies the hard bitumen and creates cracks through which the bitumen flows and is then pumped to the surface.” Sounds great right? No more plowing over the forest and stripping away millions of tons of earth to get at something that will burn in a gas tank so I can go to work. Not exactly, as this may turn out to be a far more destructive method of extraction considering that no one knows how to turn off the oil once it starts flowing out of cracks in the ground. If we’ve had to go this far to get this shit out of the ground than we have gone too far! The amount of damage we cause on a daily basis to the place we live makes us the most harmful virus this planet has ever carried. There are now lakes at the North Pole while some cheer so that we can get underneath all of that ice to see what we can drill up from underneath it. Time to wake up and prepare for a different way of life.

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