Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

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Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

by Andrew Nikiforuk, Andrew Nikiforuk

GREYSTONE BOOKS LTD | March 15, 2010 | Trade Paperback

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent is rated 3.6667 out of 5 by 6.

Updated with new material throughout, and winner of the prestigious Rachel Carson Environment Book Award.

Andrew Nikiforuk''s Tar Sands is a critical exposé of the world''s largest energy project—the Alberta oil sands—that has made Canada one of the worst environmental offenders on earth.

The United States imports the majority of its oil, not from Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, but from its neighbour to the north, Canada. Canada has one third of the world''s oil source; it comes from the bitumen in the oil sands of Alberta. Advancements in technology and frenzied development have created the world''s largest energy project in Fort McMurray where, rather than shooting up like a fountain in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, the sticky bitumen is extracted from the earth. Providing almost 20 percent of America''s fuel, much of this dirty oil is being processed in refineries in the Midwest. This out-of-control megaproject is polluting the air, poisoning the water, and destroying boreal forest at a rate almost too rapid to be imagined.

In Tar Sands, journalist Andrew Nikiforuk exposes the disastrous environmental, social, and political costs of the tar sands and argues forcefully for change. Combining extensive scientific research and compelling writing, Nikiforuk takes the reader to Fort McMurray, home to some of the world''s largest open-pit mines, and explores this twenty-first-century pioneer town from the exorbitant cost of housing to its more serious social ills. He uncovers a global Deadwood, complete with rapturous engineers, cut-throat cocaine dealers, aimless bush workers, American evangelicals, and the largest population of homeless people in northern Canada. He also explains that this micro-economy supplies gasoline for 50 percent of Canadian vehicles and 16 percent of U.S. demand. Readers will learn that oil sands:

  • burn more carbon than conventional oil,
  • destroy forests and displace woodland caribou
  • poison the water supply and communities downstream
  • drain the Athabasca, the river that feeds Canada''s largest watershed
  • contribute to climate change

The book does provide hope, however, and ends with an exploration of possible solutions to the problem. And this update edition Nikiforuk adds a new afterword, a new appendix on the hidden costs of steam extraction, and a response to the criticism he received for the first edition.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 280 pages, 8.6 × 5.6 × 0.88 in

Published: March 15, 2010

Publisher: GREYSTONE BOOKS LTD

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1553655559

ISBN - 13: 9781553655558

Found in: Science and Nature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Eye Opening! Interesting and Educational. I would recommend reading the book “Tar Sands.” This novel will help by giving definitive facts and truths about the oil sands that were hidden from the public. It is mind-boggling to really understand the magnitude and the negative effects the oil sands have on the Province of Alberta and in the bigger picture, the Country of Canada. As the book reveals the ugly truth the reader finds him/her self captivated and glued to the text. It is hard to believe the damage that is being conducted to our environment in Northern Alberta. If the tar sands don’t come to an end, and the oil companies continue to thrive off the destruction of the Earth; what will our future look like? I enjoyed this book a lot, and for those who are considering or are looking for an interesting read this book fulfills that desire.
Date published: 2011-11-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A bunch of facts Andrew Nikiforuk's intention of writing this novel is clear to the reader. This is his wake-up call to the world on the impact of our greed. He was a little bit heavy with facts and statistics in his work but he was able to deliver a thoughtful explanation of the tar sands situation in Alberta. Andrew Nikiforuk makes sure his writing can be read by anyone interested in the matter.
Date published: 2011-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must-read for all Canadians I have read a number of books on the Tar Sands, and this one is the most thorough, well-researched and readable. The analysis in Chapters 12 and 13 on how Alberta and Canada fit in the world of petro-politics is illuminating. Given the regional and global impacts of tar sands development, this book should be required reading for every Canadian. Nikiforuk very much deserves all the awards he has won.
Date published: 2009-12-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from overblown and inaccurate When I got to the section on a subtopic I knew something about already, i.e. carbon capture and storage, Nikiforuk's poor research stood out starkly. His writing style is also very overblown. If you want to be told, over and over and over, how bad, how ugly, how awful, the tar sands really are, in every way, from the name, the appearance, the environmental problems, the social problems, the political problems, well its all repeatedly restated again and again right here in this book. If you were looking for facts so you could make up your own mind, look elsewhere. Any facts in this book would have to be double checked from a better source in any case.
Date published: 2008-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dirty Oil and the Future of Alberta Nikiforuk, most famous for his book on Wiebo Ludwig, "Saboteurs", now returns with a book that looks at the massive oil sands development in Northern Alberta and shows how out-of-control exploitation of this resource is having a terrible effect on the environment and the health of the local population. Nikiforuk also shows how the Alberta government has for years under-collected revenues from oil sands exploitation, and has made no provision for keeping these funds out of general revenue. The effect has been to diminish civic involvement in politics and democracy in Alberta. Bitumen--the raw oily dirt which can only be processed by burning enormous amounts of energy and wasting vast quantities of water before it becomes usable oil--is here exposed as Alberta's dirty "secret" and the largest single petroleum project in the world. A must-read for Albertans, though at times a bit dry in its writing style.
Date published: 2008-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Crucial reading this small book is densely packed with information about the history of the tar sands and contemporary developments. It is passionately written as call to action and it makes a good argument for the economic and environmental dangers of the tar sands projects for all canadians, and the global community as well. Its virtually an exposee on a topic that is tremendously under reported
Date published: 2008-10-22

– More About This Product –

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

by Andrew Nikiforuk, Andrew Nikiforuk

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 280 pages, 8.6 × 5.6 × 0.88 in

Published: March 15, 2010

Publisher: GREYSTONE BOOKS LTD

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1553655559

ISBN - 13: 9781553655558

About the Book

Co-published by the David Suzuki Foundation.

From the Publisher

Updated with new material throughout, and winner of the prestigious Rachel Carson Environment Book Award.

Andrew Nikiforuk''s Tar Sands is a critical exposé of the world''s largest energy project—the Alberta oil sands—that has made Canada one of the worst environmental offenders on earth.

The United States imports the majority of its oil, not from Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, but from its neighbour to the north, Canada. Canada has one third of the world''s oil source; it comes from the bitumen in the oil sands of Alberta. Advancements in technology and frenzied development have created the world''s largest energy project in Fort McMurray where, rather than shooting up like a fountain in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, the sticky bitumen is extracted from the earth. Providing almost 20 percent of America''s fuel, much of this dirty oil is being processed in refineries in the Midwest. This out-of-control megaproject is polluting the air, poisoning the water, and destroying boreal forest at a rate almost too rapid to be imagined.

In Tar Sands, journalist Andrew Nikiforuk exposes the disastrous environmental, social, and political costs of the tar sands and argues forcefully for change. Combining extensive scientific research and compelling writing, Nikiforuk takes the reader to Fort McMurray, home to some of the world''s largest open-pit mines, and explores this twenty-first-century pioneer town from the exorbitant cost of housing to its more serious social ills. He uncovers a global Deadwood, complete with rapturous engineers, cut-throat cocaine dealers, aimless bush workers, American evangelicals, and the largest population of homeless people in northern Canada. He also explains that this micro-economy supplies gasoline for 50 percent of Canadian vehicles and 16 percent of U.S. demand. Readers will learn that oil sands:

  • burn more carbon than conventional oil,
  • destroy forests and displace woodland caribou
  • poison the water supply and communities downstream
  • drain the Athabasca, the river that feeds Canada''s largest watershed
  • contribute to climate change

The book does provide hope, however, and ends with an exploration of possible solutions to the problem. And this update edition Nikiforuk adds a new afterword, a new appendix on the hidden costs of steam extraction, and a response to the criticism he received for the first edition.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

About the Author

Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Canadian journalist. His books include Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War against Big Oil, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Editorial Reviews

"The environmental problems addressed in [Tar Sands] raise the broader issue of redefining man's relationship to Earth, and underscore the connectedness of life whether tortoise, Texan, or tree."" ForeWord Magazine ""Environmentally-minded readers will find a lot to like here, and Canadian and American citizens would do well to keep themselves informed of this problem with continent-wide implications.” ForeWord Magazine “[Nikiforuk] argues convincingly in Tar Sands that neither Alberta nor Canada has come to terms with the true extent of the environmental devastation.” Alternatives Journal “Tar Sands exposes the disastrous environmental, social and political costs of the Alberta oil sands and argues forcefully for a change.” Prairie Books NOW “The Calgary author contends that Canada is starting to resemble the petro-states of South America and the Middle East -- rich in oil but short on democracy and freedom of speech--and that Alberta's tar-sands development is mismanaged, environmentally toxic, bad for Canada's autonomy and short on long-term benefits for Albertans. Nikiforuk has a point, and he has guts. He also explains the tar sands in a straightforward way, something government and industry have been slow to do, apparently with reason.” National Post “Although I am not so naive as to suggest that these companies halt their operations, the comment that ""environmental concerns are paramount"" is simply unbelievable. After considering those comments about restoration, I w
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