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It's Time to Talk about the Oilsands


It's Time to Talk about the Oilsands

Tzeporah Berman

The debate over energy, oilsands and pipelines in Canada is at best dysfunctional and at worst a twisted game that is making public relations professionals and consultants on all sides enormous amounts of money.


See that phote above? Magnify by 10000 times and more. Keep in mind that less than one percent of this devastation has been “reclaimed” and that reclamation project is not restoring back to what it once was but planting species of trees that can be “better utilized” by the forest industry in the future than what was once there.

Alexander Mackenize was the first European the cross the entirety of Canada from East to West. When he came to this country it was rolling hills. muskegs rivers and streams and lakes and led him to say it was one of the most beautiful regions he had ever seen.

What THEY call “progess” got in the way and now look at it. All of this devastation in 50 short years after what was referred to as the “superior and civilized people” displaced those called “primitives and savages” who had lived there for 10000 of those years.


When the first chest X-ray came in and the smoker’s lungs were full of tar, it’s possible that some argued there’s no proof of dangers inherent to smoking. Also possible, that industry insiders opposed said proof even when thousands upon thousands of cases came into full view.

That makes me question the honesty of this quote:

“We didn’t understand the cumulative impacts on our disappearing caribou populations, the toxic impact on our lakes and fish, the human health impacts of air and water pollution. We didn’t know that carbon trapped in our atmosphere would create climate impacts as severe as we currently face - the droughts, the floods, the wildfires, the rising intensity and frequency of violent storms. Now we do.”

Ms. Berman wants a win: win situation that is kind to the entrepreneurial paradigm. It shows here:

"There is a long and difficult road in front of us of retraining, of building new clean energy infrastructure, reducing oil demand through efficiency, scaling up public transportation and electrifying transport.

“That will take time and we need to ensure that people are not thrown out of work and we do not destabilize capital markets. That requires serious transition planning and it’s not going to be easy or comfortable.”

Meanwhile, conservation COULD go a long way… but such an ethos opposes the “more! bigger! faster! better!” Built-in obsolescence of the marketplace-driven culture.

And when trade rules come into solid form, what entity will be legally endowed with the power to oppose the rabid and continuous RAPE of the Great Mother Nature/Pacha Mama?


“Yes many of us still use gasoline to fill our cars, we fly in planes and we will continue to for many years.”

For the love of life, FIGHT BACK! Most automobile and airplane trips are unnecessary. Stop driving! Stop flying! Take your power BACK from the slimy industrialists who have shaped transportation and energy systems. Stop feeding your life force to the monster.

At least, cut out all unnecessary fossil-fueled travel. Talk to your family, talk to your co-workers, talk to your friends and neighbors about what you are doing and why. Resist!

And don’t fool yourself about “many years.” The chaos has been unleashed, and EVERYTHING is going to change, fast. The faster you make changes, the better you can handle other changes that come.

When we are living and dying in the collapse, how many will wish “Damn! If only we had taken more car trips!”


One observation I would make about the pace of change in modern society.

A person born in 1500 BC in the fertile crescent lived very much like someone born 300 years later. The lifespan of an empire or kingdom was measured in hundreds of years and more.

Today this all happens at a much faster pace. Where the Roman Empire was dominant for centuries the British Empire lasted less then 200 years, the US empire already in wane after 100 years.

Where it took literally centuries for the fertile lands of the fertile crescent to be over farmed and overused , today it happens in decades as witnessed in Oklahoma opened to farming in the 1880s and a dustbowl some 50 years later. All that keeps crops growing there now is chemicals being dumped into the soil which in fact make matters even worse as input costs climb ever higher for a lesser amount of food.

The very nature of our society with its technologies and driven as it is by the profit motive wherein the greatest profits being sought in the shortest period of time ,directly impacts our environment for the worse as it has no time to adapt to these changes. Modern Society works in direct opposition to the natural world.

That pace HAS to slow down. The profit motive and the extractive nature of economies has to be regulated. It can not be left to “market forces” as the “market forces” are insanity.

The author of this article wants to preserve those profits while preserving the environment. It can not be done.


If this article represents the liberal (both small and large “L” - or for that matter NDP) consensus on ending the obscenity of the oil industry - particular the tar sand mining of Canada, we are indeed toast. The obsequiousness of this woman toward the capitalist syatem made me me sick as I was reading it.


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Agreed! The worst, most foolish part of today’s capitalsit and putatively democratic societies is This will make jobs… The world today has more than twice as many people as it did 50 years ago, and from my myopic point of view at the computer it is a little more exciting and I can do a lot more things. But a world with twice the population cannot be justified unless it’s twice as good for everybody, and that sure as hell is not so.

However, to return to the subject of oil sands. There is a way to put all fossil fuel technologies out of business, and it isn’t solar sourced energy (fossil carbon itself is solar sourced, and we’re using it up far faster than it was produced.).

Lord Kelvin posed a question just after he got the age of the Earth at probably 40 million years, certainly mot more than 100 million. “What is the source of the Sun’s power?” He was dissatisfied with all that he could find as an explanation, and asserted that any physicist who was not working on finding the answer had to give as his excuse that he was working on something more urgent.
Albert Einstein produced the solution to that question. The energy source is the conversion of mass into energy.
It turns out that the Sun does it by nuclear fusion, which is exothermic for atomic nuclei less massive than iron. But sufficiently massive stars are unable to build enough radiation pressure to hold up their mass against their own gravity, except with prodigiously high rates of consumption of their matter.This eventually burns out their lightest elements, and eventually there is collapse so catastrophic that atomic nuclei are formed that would release energy when fissioned.
Kelvin’s estimate of the Earth’s age, although far larger than what “Young Earth” religionistseven today believe, is about a hundred times too low. The reason for the error is the same as the Sun power problem.
Where I’m going with this is, that the only energy resource NOT in existence when fossil carbon became king, and therefore the only revolution that can overcome Kings Coal and Petro Hydrocarbon, will be led by sustainable nuclear energy.
It turns out that there are two such technologies Fast Breeder and Molten Salt.

The best Fast Breeder was EBR II of the IFR project, abandoned by Clinton in 1994 from fear of the fact it produced plutonium, which of course it consumes, and less obviously is not bomb grade.
Its immunity to meltdown was proven by deliberate test almost a month before Chernobyl.

The AEC’s Molten Salt Reactor, making fissile uranium from thorium, was perfectly successful until Nixon dumped it because it did not produce bomb grade uranium. Like the Fast Breeder, the design is inherently meltdown immune.

IMHO the very best proposal from these two choices is a very new one, from a company called Transatomic Power (please look it up) an MSR design using zirconium hydride instead of graphite as a moderator, and calculated to be able to run at 1.8% enrichment as a breeder, which also means that the actinides in “spent” fuel from currently running reactors should no longer be called “waste”. Reprocessing just enough to remove the small (about 3%) amount of fission products means that THAT fuel is also "renewable".


Suspira, I agree with you here too. When I left Scotland, its vistas in many places were wild and rugged and romantic, which Byron contrasted with England’s being “tame and domestic” to “one who has roamed on the mountains”. Now too many of them arebeing cluttered \with windmills ten times as high as Quixote’s lance was long.
My response above tells you what I think the cure for fossil fuel dependency is, and why. It’s nuclear!


I did in fact, when my car pool scattered (retirements), resort to NOT using a car to get to work 7 miles away. On most days, and for 14 years, I found that a bicycle trip was about as fast as my colleagues who travelled the same route by car. You may consider this conservation, but I like to think that it is a biofueled technology more efficient than a gentleman riding a horse. But wind turbines are not technologically superior to the sails of a tall ship, and coal and oil swept those away, alas!
I also found that I could not in good conscience recommend bicycle commuting for as long as the route you choose crosses a road used by cars. One of those ran a red light and hit my front wheel.