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3.3 out of 5 stars
Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent
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on January 11, 2015
Book had no markings or tear... good as new
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
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 truth.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2013
Someone should tell Bill that 'Ralphie' hasn't been premier of Alberta for several years, in fact, he's dead.
And the oil sands mines are being reclaimed, there are pictures available on the web.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2013
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 rights and the environment then you will love this book. If on the other hand you see the Oil Sands project ( it is oil sand, not tar} as a reasonable long term solution to solving our oil needs and you agree that it is run as cleanly as possible you will see this book as another attempt to cash in on the misinformation about a project that is vital to Canada's economy. Can I give it no stars?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2013
Hi,
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!
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2013
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 pure propaganda not science.
The oilsands has been in operation for almost 50 years and has provided Canada with billions of dollars of revenue plus over 230,000 jobs from BC to Quebec and the Maritimes. Its a healthy sports town that grew now to over 120,000 people of many ethnic groups and religions. It has one of Alberttas oldest MOSQUES.
Nikiforuks book is crass propaganda and its easy to prove its propaganda by taking a trip to Fort McMurray and seeing the Community. My kids were born here.
Its a multicultural town. Oilsands are the biggest employer of aboriginal people in Canada and two at least are millionaires.
On the environment, oilsands contributes 0.2% of world GHGs.
A variety of studies confirms there are contaminants but all are within normal urban levels (Science Academy) Cross Cancer Institute states that comments told by Nikiforuk are untrue. There are no excessive cancers here as he states. Over 180,000 people live and work in this region MANY IN THE PLANTS EXTRACTING OIL. Do you think if there was cancer many workers would have it? Its all BS and Albertans know it. Nikiforuk has NEVER spent a day in the oilsands yet he's an expert?
Fort McMurray is a great place to raise kids. 1400 kids in minor hockey. 1800 kids in soccer. Biggest Leisure Centre in Canada with pools. Aboriginal Owned Hotel biggest in Fort McMurray (Sawridge) Biggest United Way in Canada. Home to Hockey and Film Stars (Chris Phillips and Natasha Henstridge) Home to best senior Marathon Runner in Canada (Phil Meagher) Biggest Urban Municipality in Canada.
Dave Tuccaro of TUCs Corpn., best known native millionaire in Canada. Best Vocational College in Canada. AIR is 15 times better than Toronto.
Get a tour of the oilsands see the BISON. See the reclaimed land
Phone 1-780-791-4336 (Fort McMurray Tourism) Believe your own eyes, not this propagandist. SEEING IS BELIEVING.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2013
Disturbing, alarming, annoying, depressing, discouraging, dismaying, distressing, foreboding, frightening, gloomy, ominous, perplexing, perturbing, prophetic, provoking, unpleasant, unsettling, upsetting, vexing AND so horribly accurate.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
Should be read by all Canadian school children and especially by all Canadian politicians. Its coverage of the issues and inconceivable mismanagement surrounding the Canadian tar sands is excellent.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
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. If you care about your grandchildren and the kind of world present policies will be subjecting them to, you must read this book.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
To provide some background on my opinion on this book: I currently study natural resource conservation and am committed to stopping climate change through a reduction of greenhouse gasses including CO2. That being said, I also spent 8 months working for an oil sands company in their environmental research department and living in Fort McMurray. I bought this book along with 2 others (both are in the suggested panel on this page and I speak of them below) to try to gain a bit more perspective on the industry as a whole and to get some information I was not exposed to.

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.

There are scores of biases throughout the book but one of my favourites is on the top of page 105, I won't quote the entire passage since you can read it yourself in the "look inside" feature of Amazon. Basically he implies that the Emergency Meeting Point (which is a giant blue C if you ever drive by it on the high way) is use for toxic spills and upgrader fires. That is 100% true, but it is the same as saying the "Muster Point" for whatever office or school you may work in is used for the same purpose. That meeting point (like every meeting point) is used for any emergency and is a way to increase site safety (safety in the oil sands is also something Nikifourk blasts). Every time we left the truck to do any work, we had to fill out a safety card with our meeting point listed so that we could meet emergency responders in case anything happend (which for us was usually related to tripping and falling our bear attacks, but if you asked Nikifourk, he would say that every black bear in the oil sands was killed by the toxic ponds). In the same paragraph, he speaks about the bison raised on Syncrude land and how he doubts anybody eats them. The bison ranch is actually run by the Fort McKay Group of Companies (and the ranch is run by a few First Nations people from the company/band) and the bison are consumed regularly.

I don't like the idea of "defending" the oil sands, I feel strongly that there is a serious lack of monitoring in the area and that the royalties paid to the government are totally inadequate. Not to mention the issue of our countries massive over consumption of oil and, well, everything else. However, if you want to learn something about the oil sands, this book is a HORRIBLE way to start. Look at James Marsden's "Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn't Seem to Care)". It is just as opinionated as this book but at least does it in a much more logical and factual way (if that is possible). Then pick up Ezra Levants "Ethical Oil: A case for Canadas Oil Sands", you will undoubtedly disagree with many, if not all, of its principles (as I did), but it is always important to look at the same data, same information, just interpreted in a different way. After you have doen that, flip through the reference section and read over a few reports, it takes time but you will be able to form your own opinion, rather than spewing the same garbage and turning people AWAY from environmentalism as people like Nikifourk do.

One of the more enlightening sections of the book was all about the money of it all. Alberta is not charging the kind of royalties it should be and this needs to change. However, in the great cluster-frack that this book is, Nikifourk talks about Norway as a model nation for collecting fees for long term savings for the country. What he does not mention is how the government owned Statoil in Norway has invested HEAVILY in... The oilsands! So is Alberta supposed to do the same? Collect money from industry only to invest it in dirty oil? I think that is a rather foolish comparison.

The "dirty oil" also really gets me. There is very little evidence shown for just how dirty the oil is in Alberta. Number are shown yes, but many of them represent unrealistic or outdated information. Many oil producers around the globe are guilty of misrepresenting their emissions (such as by burning natural gas found with crude oil underground) and I really do believe that the oil sands are not "that bad". Of course no oil is clean oil, it just sort of grinds my gears that people have this view of the oil sands as being 20 times worse than conventional crude.

Finally, if you really hate what is going on in the oil sands, stop driving, stop taking vacations halfway around the world, stop buying garbage you don't need to impress people you don't care about from the other side of the world and generally try to reduce your overall consumption of oil. To his credit, Nikifourk does devote one of the last sections of the book to this idea of practical solutions to the problem. He looks at James Hansens idea of a dividend based carbon tax and speaks to the idea of reducing consumption to help slow increase in supply. But then in the "Afterword" he goes on a two page tirade about the criticisms of his book he has received and does so in a very undignified mannor, one which seems to be more akin to a juvenile throwing a temper tantrum at his poorly done essay. Nikifourk needs to realize that there are those who will criticize him, and they will do a good job of it. He needs to just ignore it and keep doing what hes doing as long as people (like me) keep buying his book.

*Also, somebody please get Nikifourk a dictionary. There he will find that the name given to the oil sands is correct, if you want to be more specific you can start calling them the asphalt sands or bitumen sands, tar sands is just incorrect. That kind of bugs me.
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