I can't even go to a movie without seeing Hollywood-quality ads with butterflies and forests all around the new clean green Tar Sands operations.
Here is the other side of the story - a quick clip of a talk by Mike Mercredi, an aboriginal man from Fort Chipewyan, downstream from the Tar Sands.
(In the audio, Mike lists out his relatives that are dead or dying of cancer, which was unknown to them in previous generations, before the Tar Sands came upstream of their drinking water and fishing grounds)
I recorded that in 2008, when we had no experts to back him up. Listen to the whole Radio Ecoshock program "Climate Terrorism: The Tar Sands" 3 speakers recorded December 5th in Vancouver, listed on our 2008 show archive page at ecoshock.org.
As you will hear in this program, they are lying about being able to reclaim land to their former natural state. The oil companies and the governments who collude with them are faking and hiding the health effects.
The whole tar sands operation is a world-scale Ponzi scheme which will bankrupt future generations with the costs of clean-up, - if any remediation is possible. Or they will do what most mining companies do: leave a massive open scar upon the earth, all for the quick quarterly profits of foreign multinationals.
Why says so? According to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his Environment Minister, anyone who criticizes the Tar Sands is just a foreign-funded radical - unpatriotic environmentalists.
Let's meet one of those radicals. Here is the introduction to Dr. David Schindler, before his speech in Vancouver, on March 28th, 2012. The intro is by John Pierce, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Simon Fraser University.
(audio: Schindler helped discover that phosphorus from detergents and water treatment plants was killing the Great Lakes; he proved acid rain was coming from coal plant pollution; he's recently done a study of Tar Sands pollution. Schindler has an Order of Canada, is a member of the Royal Society, and has many, many honors.)
That's the wild-eyed radical the Prime Minister fears. A life-long scientist who helped clean up the Great Lakes from phosphorus, who proved the source of acid-rain, a world-recognized and heavily awarded expert, David Schindler.
David is no fly-in academic from New York. He lives in Northern Alberta. He's fished in the many streams threatened by the proposed Enbridge northern pipeline. He's measures the water and the air, finding pollution governments denied.
In the program I summarize some of the surprising revelations in this speech, bolstered by selected audio. For example, did you know the tiny amounts of supposedly reclaimed lands can never be returned to their previous state, because the mine tailings are too salty?
I also didn't realize the biggest source of pollution is actually air-borne. We'll learn all that and more in this work-shop from Canada's top Tar Sands expert, a quiet but devastating critic of the world's dirtiest source of oil.
* Tar Sands chemicals flood local rivers, probably explaining higher levels of cancer in aboriginal Canadians downstream.
* The government won't investigate the many deaths there.
* The former Alberta caribou herds will never return.
* The forests are being stripped in an area projected to be larger than the state of Florida.
* Countless tons of methane are burned and released just to get oil out of the sands.
* The corrosive raw oil is carried in a network of pipelines, tankers, trucks, and famous spills. It's an industrial spider web reaching down into the United States, indeed all over North America.
* Wherever you live in the world, the Tar Sands are wrecking your atmosphere, as the single largest industrial source of greenhouse gases on the planet.
The damage can be seen from space, and will last for thousands of years. Welcome to your secure energy source, your damned "ethical" oil.
David begins with the tailing ponds, some of which are just meters away from the Athabasca River. According to Tar Sands Watch, every square meter of oil-bearing bitumen mined creates six square meters of tailing. These are tossed into toxic lakes now covering more than 55 square kilometers, over 13,000 acres and growing rapidly. The tailing dyke of just one company, Syncrude, is the second largest dam in the world. Only the Chinese Three Gorges Dam is larger.
Here is David Schindler...
[SH1_TailingsAthabasca etc. 1:38]
David then makes several key points. First, development in both the Tar Sands operations, and in the surrounding town and infrastructure has far outstripped any planning process or regulation. It's a wild-west anything-goes oil rush. As that building boom grew, the size of planning and regulatory bodies needed to keep pace. Instead successive governments have cut funding, to the point that hardly anything is monitored, regulated, or planned.
Second: while the many foreign corporations make obscene multi-billions in profits, the Canadian public gets less and less of the revenues. Governments, with political parties heavily funded by oil companies, kept reducing the percentage going to the Canadian public. Later, we'll find the whole cleanup bill is mounting, as reclamation is stalled for decades. Young Canadians will pay those astronomic bills.
From the recording March 28th, in Vancouver, here is what David Schindler says about "ethical oil".
OK, now we are going for a long walk through David Schindler's presentation. He talks about cancer in the Native people; how the industry-sponsored river testing found NOTHING, no contaminants from super-polluting smoke stacks. His own team of scientists found a wide range of heavy metals and toxic polycarbonates the industry and government somehow failed to detect.
This can be heavy going, with a map you can't see, but hang in. David Schindler all along gives you the big picture references that nobody else is talking about. For example, there are two giant chemical complexes called "the upgraders" which process the raw bitumen. These are sending out pollution for 50 miles around. It accumulates on the snow, and on the frozen rivers, until the fast Spring melt supercharges all the waters with toxic chemicals. It's the quiet science of the horrific.
[SH4_ScienceTesting 17 min]
That was Dr. David Schindler, an internationally renowned scientist working in Canada, talking about his team research into pollution from the Tar Sands. This was recorded by Alex Smith at the Simon Fraser University Wosk Centre in downtown Vancouver on March 28, 2012.
LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD THIS RADIO ECOSHOCK SEGMENT ON DAVID SCHINDLER (31 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
I hope you got one of the stories Schindler explained. As I understand it, Dr. Schindler and other scientists could not accept the industry-funded government approved study saying that NONE of the dirty pollutants from the tar sands operations could be measured in the Athabasca River or its tributaries. They found the alleged testing set up measuring stations either upstream of the operations, or far down river near the river mouth at Lake Athabasca, where dilution would be greatest. The testing method had a baseline, or used techniques, which eliminated low levels of contaminants.
Three scientists, David Schindler, Jeff Short of NOAA, and Peter Hodson, a toxicologist at Queens University took their own samples. These included sites near the Tar Sands operations. This independent team used better testing methods. They found low levels of many, many toxic substances, especially near the so-called upgrader plants, where air pollution is strong and obvious. This is a scandal! The First Nations people living downstream from the tar sands complained for years their families were dying of cancer. Industry and the government told the victims there was no pollution in their water.
After the not-so-mysterious cancer deaths of the First Nations people, and after two decades of warnings from scientists, here are the results of the health impacts study done by the Canadian government: nothing!
They don't investigate. They don't care. There are billions of dollars of profits to be made every year. That is what matters.
You aren't going to hear the dirty truth about the tar sands from any authority, and certainly not from the millions spent on propaganda by the multinational oil companies digging out the tar.
We are out of time for this week, but not out of ammunition. In an upcoming Radio Ecoshock show, you'll hear more from famous scientist David Schindler. He'll tell us why the heavily advertised "restoration" of the scoured landscape is fake. Remaking nature is not possible, and it's not going to happen.