Oil at the cost of the environment

~by Asher Hudson

This is nothing new. It is a story that has been told time and time again. But rather than this being the story of an oil spill or the purposeful dumping of fracking water, this is a story of environmental destruction.

To many people the world’s key oil deposits are located in the lands of sand and princes, but few people know that the worlds second largest oil deposit is located in our our neighbor to the north–Canada.

Most of the world’s oil deposits are located deep in the ground but Canada’s deposits are located on the surface, but trapped by sand.  The industry refers to the fields as the Athabasca Oil Sands. They are located in the middle of the Alberta province.

The Oil Sands, in the so far discovered deposits, contain enough oil for Canada to fuel its own oil demand, at its current rate, for the next 266 years and that is if they stopped exporting today.

This sounds great for national security and decreased oil dependency on the middle east, but there is a catch.  In order to extract the oil from  the sand, you have to dig it up.  This means excavating and extracting huge chunks of earth and processing it.  It is process that is similar to strip mining but on a far more destructive scale.

Strip mining is localized to a single site that might be a few square miles.  The Athabasca Oil Sands covers 54,000 sq. mi. of boreal forest and muskegs (peat bogs).  In order to extract the oil, the forest is cut down, bogs and dug up and then the underlying earth is excavated, processed, and refined.

Is this cost of environmental destruction worth the oil that we use?  We talk about the deforestation of the Amazon for farm land, why does it not apply for Canada and for Oil production?

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