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Athabasca Tar Sands

CGC1D0 - D, Ms.Cheung

Shaheera Khalid

on 21 January 2014

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Transcript of Athabasca Tar Sands

Tar sand development has many negative impacts on human life: Impact on Human Geography The tar sands have many negative impacts on the environment. Impact on the Environment Athabasca Tar Sands The tar sands are huge deposits of bitumen, a tar-like substance that turns into oil through complex and energy-intensive processes that cause widespread environmental damage. Almost 23% of Alberta's land is made up of tar sands (Grant, Dyer, Droitsch, Hout. 2011).
It has 3 main deposits:Peace River, Cold Lake, and Athabasca (Suzuki, Moola, 2008). Impact on Physical Geography The tar sands cover an area equivalent to the size of England. This land has been divided up among numerous oil companies. These companies use machines to dig into the earth to extract the tar from open-pit mines. Almost 2 tonnes of oil sands are required to make 1 barrel of bitumen (Nikiforuk, 2008). The oil industry is destroying boreal forests. 600 square kilometers have been exploited so far. They are also turning farmland into wasteland to make way for tar sand development, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada (Suzuki, Moola, 2011). The glaciers that feed Alberta's waterways are melting due to the global warming caused by the tar sands. Since 1970, they have been reduced by 30% (The Canadian Encyclopedia, n.d.). The tar sands are also polluting the air and water. Almost 11 million tonnes of toxic runoff pollute the Athabasca river daily (Greenpeace Canada, n.d.). Doctors monitoring First Nations communities near the tar sands detect high levels of rare cancers and auto-immune diseases (Greenpeace Canada, n.d.). The disruption of the ecosystem is causing water-borne diseases (Suzuki, n.d.). Intense smog is causing high levels of Asthma and heart disease (Suzuki, n.d.). The Aboriginals' traditional way of life is threatened as they face many social issues like substance abuse, suicide, gambling and family violence (Greenpeace Canada, n.d.). Workers that are brought in by oil companies, in Northern Alberta, face housing problems (Greenpeace Canada, n.d.). 2 out of 3 jobs in the tar sands are for its construction. This means that when it's construction is done, two-thirds of the oil workers will be left jobless (Greenpeace Canada. n.d.). The International Energy Agency predicts that the tar sands hold upto 1.7 trillion barrels of oil (Peters, 2003). The Athabasca tar sands have many impacts on the geography of Canada: Impact on Economic Geography The tar sands provide many economic benefits to Canada. Firstly, they are the world's largest energy project. They have attracted almost 60% of all global oil investments. (Nikiforuk, 2008). Every major oil company has laid a claim in the tar sands, and they now produce more oil than Kuwait or Texas, and have beat Saudi Arabia to being the largest exporter of oil to the United States, since 2001. They account for 1/5th of all U.S. oil imports (Nikiforuk, 2008). The tar sands are also attracting oil workers from all over the globe, and have created 880,000 person-years of employment, thus increasing the employment rate of Canada (McIntosh, 2012). A report on the conference board of Canada says, "The economic benefits of the tar sands are felt in all provinces and will lead to billions of dollar jobs across the country" (Greenpeace Canada). Firstly, they consume too much water. The tar sand industry uses about 215.2 million barrels of water a day which is equal to the amount of water used by a city of 2 million people. 90% of this water ends up in the world's largest impounds of toxic waste (Nikiforuk, 2008). Almost 3 barrels of water must be used to make 1 barrel of bitumen. So this means that everyday, Canada exports 1 million barrels of bitumen, and 3 million barrels of water (Suzuki, Moola, 2008). Tar sand industries are also polluting rivers with 11 million tonnes of toxic runoff a day (The Canadian Encyclopedia, n.d.). The tar sand industries are also using up all of Canada's natural gas. The amount of gas they use daily is equivalent to amount of gas needed to heat 6 million Canadian homes (Nikiforuk, 2008). Tar sand production releases about 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which is more than that released by all Canadian cars combined (Greenpeace Canada, n.d.). Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 1990. According to the 2009 National Inventory report that Environment Canada filed with the United Nations, the amount of greenhouse gas released by the tar sands is more than that released by any other G8 country (Greenpeace Canada). The global warming caused by the tar sands will cause temperatures in Alberta to increase by at least 8 degrees Celsius (Levi, 2009). Government Involvement The government plays a major role in promoting tar sand development. Firstly, it has not made any rational plan other than full scale liquidation (Nikiforuk, 2008).
They are fulfilling all irrational demands for oil. The Alberta government has accepted 100% of proposed tar sand projects (Greenpeace Canada, n.d.). If this situation continues, by 2015, 3/4 barrels of Canadian oil will come from the tar sands, leaving the richest deposits of bitumen totally exhausted in less then 40 years (Grant, Dyer, Droitsch, Huot, 2011). Also, Canada does not have a national water policy. A plan should be made to stop this rapid consumption and pollution of water or Canadians will soon have to face water shortages and contamination (Nikiforuk, 2008). The government should also try to reduce pollution as much as possible as Canada already has one of the worst records of pollution enforcements industrial counties (Nikiforuk, 2008). Conclusion The tar sands are a valuable resource. With proper development, they can help provide the money Canada needs to shift to a low-carbon economy, that will strengthen the country's energy security, as well as the next generation's future (Nikiforuk, 2008). But in order for all this to happen, major changes need to be made. Firstly, Canada should not agree to giving the U.S. irrational amounts of oil, otherwise Canada will be providing 1/3rd of U.S.'s oil while Canadians themselves remain dependent on insecure supplies from the Middle East (Levi, 2009). Environmental monitoring and regulations must also be strengthened, and the government should start spending more time and money on protecting the environment, rather than pleasing the oil industry. By doing so, there will not be as many health problems and there will be less pollution (Finch, 2007). Bibliography Nikiforuk, A. (2008). Tar Sands: Dirty oil and the future of a continent. Vancouver, BC: Greystone Books.
Tar Sands’ Ecological Impact. (n.d.). In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
Suzuki, D., & Moola, F. (2011, February 3). It will take more than rebranding to make tar sands oil “ethical”. Archived at
Suzuki, D. & Moola, F. ( 2008, December 12). The trouble with tar sands. Archived at
Suzuki, D. (n.d.). Health Impacts. Retrieved from
McIntosh, J. (2012, October 24). Alberta oil sands will benefit all provinces, think-tank says. CBC News.
Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/10/24/oilsands-conference-board.html
Grant, J., Dyer, S., Droitsch, D., & Huot, M. (2011, April) . Oilsands Solutions: Sloving the Puzzle. Retrieved from http://www.pembina.org/oil-sands/solutions
Finch, D. (2007). Pumped – Everyone s guide to the oil patch. Calgary, AB: Fifth House Ltd.
Peters, C.A. (2003). The Energy Dilemma: Understanding Global Issues. Cheltenham, England: Weigl Educational Publishers
Levi, M.A. (2009). The Canadian Oil Sands - Energy Security vs. Climate Change. New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations
n.a. (n.d.).Tar sands. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/campaigns/Energy/tarsands/
n.a. (n.d.). Kumi Naidoo Visits the Tar Sands. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Multimedia/Videos/Climat-Energie/Tar-sands/KUMI-NAIDOO-VISITS-THE-TAR-SANDS/
Picture 1: n.a. (n.d.). More about McMurry and oil sand. Retrieved from http://northamericajobs.org/oil_gas_ind/more_oil_sand.html
Picture 2: Bowie, E. (2011, May 1). Oh, Canada.... Retrieved from http://blogs.dickinson.edu/enews/2011/05/01/oh-canada/
Picture 3: n.a. (n.d.).Tar sands. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/campaigns/Energy/tarsands/
Picture 4: Hislop, M. (2012, September 15). Alberta oil sands bitumen can lower emissions from diesel fuel. Retrieved from http://beaconnews.ca/blog/2012/09/alberta-oil-sands-bitumen-can-lower-emissions-from-diesel-fuel/
Picture 5: n.a. (n.d.). Our Environmental Impact: Images of Pollution and Degradation. Retrieved from http://www.photosensitive.com/environmental-impact.php
Picture 6: n.a., (2011, December 28). Fracking down wild. Retrieved from http://trappedinawhirlpool.blogspot.ca/2011_12_01_archive.html
Picture 7: Earth tribe team (2012, October 19). Retrieved from http://www.earthtribe.co/news-124/ What are the tar sands? Where are the tar sands found in Canada? Picture 1: Map of the tar sands Picture 2: Tar sands: before and after development Picture 3: Aerial view of Syncrude Aurora tar sands mine in the Boreal Forest north of Fort McMurray. © Greenpeace / Jiri Rezac Picture 4: First Nations protest against tar sands Picture 5: Environmental Pollution (water) Picture 6: More birds dying in Alberta oil sands than first reported Picture 7: Air Pollution The Athabasca Region has the largest deposit of bitumen in the world (Finch, 2008). Made By:
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