Serial_Worrier wrote: WildRose wrote: Dezakin wrote:
WildRose wrote:Unfortunately, I get the impression that it's anti-Albertan to knock the oil sands industry. You wouldn't believe the things I've heard at some barbecues, etc. I keep looking for ways to open people's eyes to the realities of the environmental impacts. You are correct, I think, that the only thing that will slow this down is some nasty demand destruction.
Why should we care about frozen hellholes in the middle of nowhere?
An excellent question.
The answer is "because everyone is downstream". http://oilsandstruth.org/
Well, I'll do my best.
The damage and effects of tar sands production are many and far-reaching.
First of all, there is the destruction of about one-fifth of Alberta's land mass, including boreal forest (which is an excellent carbon sink) and wetlands. This will take hundreds of years to be restored, if ever. There is the pollution of air and rivers, which is affecting people and wildlife along the Athabasca River downstream from Fort McMurray, causing rare cancers in people and fish. The toxic tailings ponds kill higher numbers of ducks and other water fowl than we are aware of and are, in places, very close to the Athabasca River and separated by a barrier which could be breached someday, spilling huge amounts of toxins into the river.
Further south, near Edmonton, an area 530 square miles is allotted for an industrial complex dubbed "Upgrader Alley" (see the report I linked to in my previous post). It looks like nine upgraders will be operating just northeast of Edmonton between 2015 and 2020. What we can expect from this, environmentally, unless significant measures are taken to slow down this development and do so in a responsible manner
, is the following:
- huge amounts of water extracted from the North Saskatchewan River, up to 10 times as much as the city of Edmonton currently uses. This, from a river which is wide and very shallow in most places, and the risk of endangering the water ecosystems is high if water levels get too low.
- natural gas - twice as much as is needed to heat all of the homes in Edmonton will be needed for upgrader operations
- much greater electrical demand on a grid that is already stressed. In fact, the electrical need for this complex will be equal to the amount of electricity that powers all the homes in Alberta
- increased emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (by about 30 to 40%), causing smog and increased incidence of respiratory symptoms and disease.
- carcinogenic VOC's (volatile organic compounds), such as benzene, which is known to be toxic to humans.
- huge impact to agricultural land, very fine quality agricultural land
, which might be better used for growing vegetables in the future?
- huge impacts to wetlands, groundwater, soils, habitats and landscapes in general in the area northeast of Edmonton and Edmonton city, as there are increases in road construction and rail to accommodate the industrial complex.
- socioeconomically, a lot of the problems encountered in Fort McMurray, caused by rapid and uncontrolled growth of the industry, will be repeated in Edmonton (high prices for rents, services, inadequate housing, etc.)
In total, about one-quarter of Alberta's land mass will be consumed by tar sands development by the time all of this is added to the extensive destruction in northern Alberta.
We can expect greenhouse gas emissions of 45 megatonnes per year from this expansion. Emissions from Fort McMurray are already the biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Canada. These emissions ultimately contribute to global climate change.
So, that's what is meant by "we're all downstream".
The future for Alberta, in my opinion, is not a pretty picture.