Your McMurray Six-On / Six-Off
SNAPPY ANSWERS TO SILLY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OIL SANDS…
OFF: The tailings ponds are the world’s largest dams. “Dominating this landscape are half a dozen giant extraction and refining plants with their stacks and smoke and fire, disorientingly wide and deep mines, and tailings ponds held in check by some of the world’s largest dams.” Canadian Geographic, June 2008.
ON: The original quote, referring to the dam walls, has been bastardized so that Greenpeace would have you believe that one tailings pond is bigger than the Hoover Dam. Here’s the reality. Hoover dam has a capacity of 35 000 000 000 m3, more than 150 times as much as the largest tailings pond. As a further comparison, the smallest of the great lakes, Ontario, has 50 times the capacity of Hoover dam. In other words it is 7,800 times bigger than that dam north of town. Yes that’s right...7,800 times. Big difference.
OFF: Oil sands mines are destroying an area the size of Florida. “If tar sands expansion plans are realized, it will forever undermine the ecological health of 140,000 square kilometres of boreal forest, an area the size of Florida and 20 per cent of Alberta’s land base.” The Tar Sands Solutions Network, http://tarsandssolutions.org/.
ON: The entire area of potential oil sands is about 140,000 km2 (near enough the size of Florida) of which about 3 per cent at most is suitable for mining. Currently there is about 750 km2 being mined, about a twentieth of the size of the metropolitan area of Miami, which is part of Florida: a very small part.
OFF: The oil sands are the biggest environmental blight on the planet. “The oil sands projects are among the very dirtiest on earth. Per day, the oils sands operations produce as much CO2 as all the cars in Canada. While every gallon of gasoline from the cleanest oil sources produces 19.5 lbs of CO2, Alberta oil sands derived gasoline produces up to three times as much CO2 because of the inefficient methods used.” Neil Young.
ON: There isn’t a single true thing in the above statement, other than it was said by Neil Young. What it does illustrate is that people will believe aging hippies over facts, and you would do well to trust your instincts and check first before you believe someone because he used to be a singer. As an example, oil sands gas doesn’t produce 300 per cent more CO2, but 17 per cent. Big difference, eh Neil?
OFF: They are such a scar on the planet they can be seen from outer space. “The toxic lakes in Northern Alberta span 176 square kilometers and can be seen from space.” Desmogblog.com
ON: Anything can be seen from space, if you have a big enough lens. If you know his address you can type it into Google maps and see David Suzuki’s home on a satellite photo, from space. By this logic, it means that his home is an environmental scar on the planet as well.
OFF: At least Canadian Oil is Ethical Oil. “We at EthicalOil.org encourage people, businesses, and governments to choose Ethical Oil from Canada, its oil sands, and from other liberal democracies. Ethical Oil is the “fair trade” choice in oil.” Ethicaloil.org.
ON: Ezra Levant has a habit of taking a good statistic and beating it to death. Yes our oil is more ethical than Saudi Arabia’s. Also, our hockey players are more ethical than Kazakhstan’s and our politicians are more ethical, mostly, than Zimbabwe’s. It’s the comparison itself that is odious; we don’t want to be grouped with bottom feeders. When Mister Levant can proclaim that our oil is more ethical than Norway’s, then he will finally have something worth saying.
OFF: The Oil Sands are the biggest source of climate change in the world. Developing the Canadian tar sands is destroying our great northern forest at a terrifying rate. It is producing enough carbon pollution to wreak havoc with our climate for decades to come.” Robert Redford, Demandcleanpower.org.
ON: They’re not even the biggest source of climate change in Canada. If you compare industries then would be electricity generation, and the total emissions of the Oil Sands is 63 times less than all the coal fired energy plants in the USA. The oils sands industry emits carbon, but if other industries were as regulated then carbon emissions would diminish by about 80 per cent worldwide.