A critical exposé of the open-pit mines that have made Canada one of the worst environmental offenders on earth.
While the world goes green, Canada has elected to go black into the tar. The frenzied development ($100 billion and counting) of the tar sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the last six years has made Canada the world’s fifth greatest global exporter of oil and turned the country into “an emerging energy superpower.”
Combining extensive scientific research and compelling writing,
Andrew 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 tar 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, and
- contribute to climate change.
The book does provide hope, however, and ends with an exploration of possible solutions to the problem.