On May 22nd, 2008 Time Magazine published an article titled “Well-Oiled Machine” which detailed the renewed interest Canada’s tar sands are receiving as the price of oil skyrockets. COHA Research Associate Stephen Okin wrote the following letter to the editor in response.
Looking at the size of the mine shovel behind Pat Crisby makes me wonder how far mankind is willing to go in its quest for oil (“Well-Oiled Machine,” May 22). The pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China are monumental engineering achievements that added to the natural landscape; however, the consumption of tar sands in Althabasca threatens to destroy a territory the size of England and turn Alberta into a desert due to the large amounts of water required for the process. This is an amazing feat of engineering in scale but not in purpose. A more impressive achievement would be a world where fossil fuels are no longer the dominant energy source. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, sustainable energy results in stable jobs and economic growth. This is in contrast to the oil industry, which experiences constant fluctuations as sources come online, peak, and then slowly decline. Althabasca’s tar sands will provide only temporary gains in oil production and economic growth at a permanent cost to the environment. Alberta authorities would be wise to invest a major part of revenue from oil taxes into a serious sustainable development program.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs Research Associate
To read the full Time Magazine article, go to: