The Tar Sands – Dirty oil and the future of a continent

By Wayne Vriend

I’m reading, “The Tar Sands – Dirty oil and the future of a continent,” by Andrew Nikiforuk. This book is a prophet’s call in our time…convincing, damning, and a wonder the author’s voice hasn’t been silenced.

I am shocked at how compelling greed and falseness is through and through our systems of government and business. Where have true leaders gone? Gone they are, we are a ship without a rudder, about to be hurled on the rocks of our own folly. Hopefully to some soft landing that saves us from ourselves.

The shocks come in waves; the shock of the living conditions in Fort McMurray, Alberta, the main town at the heart of the Tar Sands; the shock of the working conditions, the shock of the inflated wages and stunning cost overruns, the shock of the estimated 40% of workers high on cocaine and other drugs just to cope; the shock of the environmental protections agencies standard rubber stamp report of ‘no significant damage’ to the environmental impact study question at hand.

You have to be immune not to shocked by what you read about and feel in these pages.

The shock goes deeper however, than a ‘us vs. them’ kind of reaction. The shock goes into our collective addiction to cheap oil that has fuelled (pun intended) this reality. This is something we have co created as an industrial society and it is something we must together uncreate. It doesn’t seem however on the surface at least that there is much evident collective will to reverse this mammoth race to more and more raping of the earth, and plundering everything in our path for a feeling of security. But this is where mother earth will hopefully come to the rescue to save us from ourselves before it’s too late.

Scary too is our current Canadian government’s evangelical christian leanings that hold that the earth is soon to be burned up by God himself and a new heaven and a new earth popped in it’s place. And it’s belief that people who get worked up about saving the planet just don’t get that the far more important job is saving one’s soul from eternal torment in hell. This, of course, can’t be outright admitted, but look at the environmental track record and our recent pull out of the Kyoto accord. Something much bigger than just a political persuasion is at work here.

God’s kingdom is coming to Canada, and it’s a boom for the tar sands, like it or not. But the huge cost and devastating environmental impact can’t be underestimated.

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