Tar Sands: Dirty Oil And The Future Of A Continent Paperback – Sep 29 2008
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Quill & Quire
For the better part of their history, the Alberta tar sands have been out of sight and out of mind for most Canadians. A thinly populated wilderness and (in the words of one early bitumen booster) a “relatively undesirable environment,” it is a place few people visit. Ninety-eight per cent of the current population of Fort McMurray plan on eventually retiring somewhere else. Government operates as an absentee landlord. Such blindness and indifference spring from broad-spectrum denial of the unpleasant consequences of our addiction to oil. Calgary-based journalist and Governor General’s Award-winning author Andrew Nikiforuk covers the resultant fallout in detail, from the massive and irreparable destruction of the natural environment – turning a good chunk of northern Alberta, including the world’s third-largest watershed, into a toxic moonscape – to the political transformation of Canada into a modern petrostate. What he exposes most of all, however, is the mind-boggling short-sightedness and stupidity of the entire enterprise. Nikiforuk does overdo the figurative comparisons a bit. While volume may be handily imagined in units of Olympic-size swimming pools, it’s less helpful to know that the area covered by open-pit mining could end up being three times larger than the ancient city of Angkor Wat. But this is a minor point. Overall, Tar Sands provides an excellent guide to all of the environmental repercussions of our oil dependency. The political analysis is also good, sounding a warning about our dangerous energy “interdependence” with the declining American empire and using Thomas Friedman’s first law of petropolitics – that the price of oil and the quality of freedom invariably travel in opposite directions – to make the case for tar’s corrosive effect on democracy. Nikiforuk concludes with “Twelve Steps to Energy Sanity,” an oil-addiction recovery program. And surprisingly, many of his recommendations seem doable. We can’t avert a disaster that is already under way, but we might be able to prevent things from getting horribly worse.
"Andrew Nikiforuk reveals the true costs of America's oil addiction. Tar Sands tells an important story with passion and wit." -- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
"Required reading for the President [Obama] in preparation for his first foreign trip is the book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk" -- David Sassoon, The Huffington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
I honestly don't think there was a single chapter in Nikifourk's book which didn't utterly dumbfound me. Not only does he trivialize important and peer reviewed studies such as those by David Schindler and Erin Kelly (giving them a paragraph in certain sections) but he blows certain ones (such as John O'Conners misdiagnosis) way out of proportion.
What really riles me is how he portrays the city of Fort McMurray. While it is not the place for me and not somewhere I have any intention of moving to, I met dozens of people who loved it there. The bars there are just as trashy as any one I have been to in Vancouver, the traffic is horrible (but only in the morning and evening, Monday - Thursday), but that is due to some serious municipal/provincial bickering, the city itself just feels like a town which exploded. It certainly has problems, and I feel for mayor Blake who is doing her best to make it a great city but the way Nikifourk portrayed it, you would think it is like living in a slum. I'm not sure what to say other than that is simply not the case. At all.Read more ›
Very informative. Must read for how Ralphie is ruining the climate and environment without any gain for Alberta's economy and future. Just more big bucks for big oil and no reclamtion of NE Alberta!
I study climate change and wanted to know more about the tar sands as it is a significant deposit of fossil fuel. But in one section of this book Nikiforuk writes on carbon capture, a topic I know something about. I realized how poorly researched this entire book might well be.
Nikiforuk, on carbon dioxide: "many tar sand projects puff out nearly a million tons of carbon dioxide a year.... ... a million tons - a megaton - is enough lethal carbon dioxide to fill one million two-storey, three-bedroom homes and suffocate every occupant".
If this type of overblowing is your cup of tea you'll love this book. If someone stacked up a megaton's worth of copies of Nikiforuk's book and toppled them on a three-bedroom home, no doubt these lethal books would suffocate or at least crush everyone inside as well.
When it comes to inaccuracy, he comes up with wild figures and contradicts himself on CO2 within a few paragraphs. He states, citing no source: "no infrastructure currently exists to bury carbon. To inject twenty megatons... will cost anywhere from $10 billion to $16 billion". This works out to $500 - $800 a ton. Then he points to a supposed source, as if to confirm this ballpark figure: "the Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage... requested $2 billion in public funds to explore how to effectively bury just five megatons" which works out to $400 a ton.
No one else in the world is publishing figures like this.
Then, a few paragraphs later, Nikiforuk brings up an authority, the I.P.C.C.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Full of technical errors and misrepresentation of facts. A waste of money. An example of how some in the community of environmental extremists are prepared to misrepresent the... Read morePublished on Oct. 27 2013 by Bob
Someone should tell Bill that 'Ralphie' hasn't been premier of Alberta for several years, in fact, he's dead. Read morePublished on June 26 2013 by Stan
This book is a load of hooey. I suppose if you think any development is bad and you would rather buy oil from countries that are either corrupt or gross violaters of both human... Read morePublished on April 21 2013 by Mel Mackinnon
For those of us that work in the oilsands...yes its correctly called oilsands...it hasnt been called tarsands since 1951, and that starts off the gross inaccuracies in this book of... Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2013 by SCOTTY
This book is a must-read for all Canadians. Andrew Nikiforuk shows how Canada is doing more than its share in contributing to climate change in the world. Read morePublished on Dec 18 2012 by Oksana Richards
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