Animal habitats and health are affected by tar sands production, whether from loss of habitat to any of the infrastructure developments across the continent, or through changes in the atmosphere such as melting polar ice caps in the Arctic brought on by out of control C02 emissions. Poisoning waterways, the food supply and the air in the immediate and not-so immediate surroundings has led to drops and even disappearances of species near pipelines, platforms and other infrastructure of the tarsands.
Climate Change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon. 40% of Canada’s emissions already come from Alberta alone, not counting the entire tar sands infrastructure across North America nor counting the projected increase in tar sands production or the infrastructure built across the continent to accommodate such increases in production. Factor it all in and you get the picture. You haven’t even burned the petrol yet.
The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver (& Whislter) are threatening human well-being and self-determination as well as ecological devastation in many of the same ways as the tar sands gigaproject. The corporate sponsors include many of the same, from Royal Bank of Canada through to TransCanada Pipelines, Petro-Canada and Bell Canada.
"Will Oil Sands Tar The Olympic Games?"
Seattle Times: Olympics and Tar Sands equals special opportunity
Apples not Applause for AFN's Fontaine
2010 Organizing and The Tar Sands: Inspiring the SPP and Helping the Olympics
Conscious efforts to subvert or otherwise corrupt organizations and individuals who are concerned about social issues is a sadly long tradition. The environmental movement is no exception. Through many front groups, financial wranglings through contributions and outright blackmail, industries have tamed or corrupted many of the organizations who were once among their greatest critics and opponents. The corrupting influence on the politics of the environment has left us with, at times, a movement that has yet to address the needs of fighting climate change immediately-- instead, calling for the slow changing of emissions from various parts of industrial life-- and protecting the biggest contributions to their myriad organizations. When budgets and mainstream appearances with politicians become the order of the day, effective protest is muted and rendered toothless.
The Deafening Silence of Ducks Unlimited about 500 Dead Ducks in the Tar Sands
Can Pew's Charity be Trusted?
Dead Forest Standing: Greenwashing a Tar Sands Sacrifice Zone
Buying the Green Movement: Scouring Scum and Tar from the Bottom of the Pit
Economics drive tar sands operations. Record highs in oil prices, though still fluctuating, will make tar sand oil ‘economical’ (read: profitable) well into the future. Government subsidies to this environmentally disastrous process remain in place from a time when the federal government was sponsoring research into the possibility of recovering this oil. Stock prices of tar sands developers grow the more conventional oil is scarce.
Energy and how it is captured and consumed is barely viable in tar sands production. While the amount of oil in places such as the tar sands in Alberta or the Orinoco Belt in Venezuela may have deposits of similar size to the reserves of countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iraq, the return of new energy after expending energy in production is not even close. In Iraq, the process of using one barrel of oil generates 100 new barrels. In the tar sands, estimates of 3 to 1 and even as low as 1.5 to 1 have been made.
Forests lose more trees and habitat to pipeline “right of way” cuts and tar pit building than to clearcuts. With minor variation, pipelines go the direct route. Through the strip mining of the land that contains tarsand petroleum and through pipeline construction to accomodate, only the Amazon Basin in Brazil would see larger rates of deforestation than the Boreal forest cover surrendered to the tarsands. Roads often accompany pipelines, as do various other developments.
Gender impacts are often completely ignored within the hollow social impact assessments often conducted in the modern era. Oil patches and natural gas operations are overwhelmingly operated by young men who naturally go into small towns nearby after weeks in the bush. Alcohol and/or drug fuelled violence and rape often increase in communities dealing with such an influx, as do drug use, alcoholism and sexual exploitation.
The Health implications in terms of these projects are vast, and not just the deadly explosions and industrial accidents that happen in production-—from reported increases in rare forms of cancer downstream from tar sands production to the pollution of fresh water leading to poisoned diets (fish, moose and plant toxicity)—-direct links are hard to establish but impossible to either rule out or ignore, especially where tarsand operations constitute overwhelmingly the greatest change to the environment in most corners of the continent effected directly by tarsand infrastructure.
Indigenous nations have protected the earth on their territories for thousands of years. With the government of Canada ignoring their sovereignty, nations not only see massive theft of resources that could help alleviate social problems, but their exacerbation through their further alienation from their own lands, often accompanying being overrun by development and southern workers, while having no self-determination during this process. In the south of Canada industrial farming displaced many nations with often genocidal results.
Law Suit a Possible Tar Sands Stopper
First Nations Town Plans Road Blockade
Intervention at the United Nations by Athabasca Dene/Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations
NY Times on Poison Water, Fish and Animals for Fort Chipewyan
Labour & Migration
It is falsely assumed that big projects equal lots of jobs and, by extension, labour peace if not outright satisfaction. The size and scope of the tarsands means for incredibly dangerous work conditions-- some fatalities at the plants have already occurred. The products seldom get their "value added" in union-run locations, instead the heavy bitumen can be shipped to many different locations across North America for refining, denying benefits to the union. However, the Union does not represent the "guest worker", now being imported in increasing numbers as legislation is changed to make access easier, the term of exploitation last longer, without any new efforts or pathways to deciding to stay after helping tear up the earth.
Increase of Migrant Workers in Canada Opens Door to Abuses
N.B. inmates training to be oil rig workers
Hard Times Sold in Vending Machines
Racism in the Tar Sands: Exploiting Foreign Workers and Poisoning Indigenous People
Land, regardless of whether covered by forests, tundra or grasslands, is threatened by mining operations such as Alberta’s vast open tar pit operations, or through incredible networks of “right of way” cuts for pipelines that extend in the hundreds of thousands of miles, all told, and across the continent in four directions and to three oceans—either through feeding the tarsand operations with fossil fuel energy or through feeding energy markets from tarsand operations after production. In the case of pipeline right of ways, they can blast directly through mountains or be buried in permafrost if needed, to get the energy to move.
A category all its own, despite being a form of energy. The until-now primarily dormant energy form of nuclear power is getting a new lease on construction life in the wake of the astronomical energy needs of the tarsands. The tarsands need a vast and growing energy supply, almost requiring half of what it will produce at the point of consumption. As a means of both feeding that "need" and using the thin-wedge of "thirsting for energy" that is "not greenhouse gas emitting" for the tarsands, this highly dangerous and discredited form of energy is making a slow and speeding up comeback.
Peak Oil is starting to be understood across a broad spectrum, but the direct connection between peak oil, climate change and the American market-led attempt to squeeze all energy out of Alberta cannot be overstated. The smaller the global supply of oil gets, the more CO2 has been emitted and the more climate change will have advanced. This leads to more interest in the tar sands—because the profit margin goes ever higher the fewer alternatives there are for petroleum.
Social Impacts. Overnight injections of migrant workers will not build healthy communities and can have severely adverse impacts on existing communities, especially those of indigenous nations on their traditional lands. Such development brings vices and long term displacement too often. Drugs, alcohol and associated violence spreads. Hunting becomes difficult when the land is threatened, leading to a further loss of culture and tradition. In towns like Fort McMurray there is no planning for the future, but merely consumption in the present.
Calgary: Rental crisis fund hits $43.5M
North American unions denounce privatization of Mexico's oil sector
Fort McMurray Group wants to start needle exchange
"Guest Workers" bolting for freedom upon arrival
War and Security
The tarsands are only economical at a certain price per barrel. The attacks on Iraq and Somalia, along with threats against Venezuela, Iran and elsewhere all combine to drive that price up. This significantly leaves the US economic structures able to tighten their control on oil distribution around the world as they de-diversify their oil imports to heavy reliance on tarsand (mock) oil, growing in percentage at a incredible pace. Canada is ever more integrating this (mock) oil into the North American grid, at the behest of both Canadian and American corporations.
Iraq Signs Oil Deal With China Worth Up to $3 Billion/a>
The SPP and Merging Military Command Structures
Native chief seeks help of Venezuela's Chavez
Time for Us to Say "No More Oil for War" to the US