1. A Ticking Carbon Bomb!
We recently surpassed atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. Burning the tar sands oil would send the earth’s ecological systems, which are already in crisis, right over the edge. There’s something like 360 to 510 billion tons of carbon locked up in tar sands oil, according to James Hansen, former NASA scientist turned anti-Keystone XL pipeline activist, which is double the amount ever burned. If you think today’s droughts and storms are bad, imagine what they will look like when the tar sands are completely tapped.
2. Three Barrels of Water for One Barrel of Oil
Water doesn’t flow as freely as it used to as a result of drought (the worst since 1956), pollution, and frankly too many people drawing on this finite resource, so remaining sources ought to be conserved. Ought to, but in Alberta, Friends of the Earth reports, oil companies require three barrels of water (not to mention a toxic cocktail of chemicals and a lot of heat energy) to loosen just one barrel of sticky bitumen from the tar sands. How many barrels of oil are being extracted each day, you ask? Roughly 2.4 million a day. That’s a lot of water, but that’s not even the worst of it. The byproduct of the extraction process, which contains such harmful substances as ammonia and cynanide, ends up in giant tailing ponds before eventually leaching into groundwater supplies.
3. Remember the People
It’s easy to get lost amid the rhetoric, but there was a time before the Keystone XL Pipeline became the center of attention that we worried about the First Nation communities in Alberta whose culture, health and safety are compromised by tar sands oil extraction. Nearly 10 percent of a small 1,200 member community from the village of Fort Chipewyan, just to cite one example, has died from cancer since their land and water has been expropriated. This is outrageous, and why isn’t the Canadian government doing more to end this madness?