What are the tar sands?
A lot of people are talking tar sands these days, but you might not have a clue what it’s all about. It’s a rather sticky subject, leaving Canada with a not-so-flattering reputation as a big bad polluter.
But as time passes, and consequences are beginning to appear, the critics are being proven right; these tar sands are dirty, and they’re wreaking havoc on our Canadian landscape, its people, and the world at large.
The tar sands, found primarily in Alberta, are a mixture of sand, clay, and petroleum. Because the oil is contained in this mixture, it takes a lot of energy and waste to extract it for use.
Once extracted, the oil is shipped to other parts of the world, predominantly to the US through underground pipelines.
[/caption]The tar sands is the largest industrial project in the history of humanity, and producing oil from them releases three times as much carbon dioxide emissions as regular oil production. But what many don’t realize is the destruction goes beyond mere CO2 emissions.
The tar sands are one of the fastest causes of deforestation. Add water depletion to the mix (it takes up to 5 barrels of water to produce a barrel of oil) and you’ve got a recipe for an oily disaster.
Those living downstream are living proof of the linkage between health and environment. Exposed to contaminants in their air and water released in the process of extracting the oil, these communities are beginning to show chronic distress from breathing in nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide, including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease, in addition to an increasing prevalence of cancer.
The case is set for what Clayton calls ‘environmental racism’; First Nations people are disproportionately affected, and Clayton will continue to speak out for environmental justice.
Want to have your say? Need ideas on how to put a stop to this dirty practice? Have ideas on improving your community’s health and environment? Visit our Home Lands vs. Tar Sands campaign page!
Remember – in the battle to save the planet, healthy communities matter. Share your story of how you are affecting the health of your neighbours and your local environment, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.