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Everything you need to know about tar sands and how they affect you

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IIf you could defuse one of the world’s biggest carbon bombs, right?

Aerial view of the Suncor Millennium Tar sand mining operations north of Fort McMurray. © Jiri Rezak / Greenpeace

Every day, our window to save the climate – and the lives of the billions who depend on it – gets a little narrower. While people around the world are taking action, oil companies are trying to ignite the fuse of one of the world’s largest carbon bomb.

Deep in western Canada, on lands where indigenous communities have lived since ancient times, sit the Alberta Tar Sands. There are tar sands vast oil fields and mines in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Seen from the sky, the tar sands reach beyond the horizon and are gone forever, resembling a painful scar on an earth of epic proportions. The surrounding river beds are visible in the form of water level pressure under industrial use. Chemical runoff pools in massive toxic lakes that stain the landscape. In the air above (and in surrounding communities), there may be a strong smell like burnt tyres, from which a hoarseness in the lungs.

Experiencing it all for the first time can be overwhelming and painful – even hard to believe. When people around the world imagine Canada’s clean rivers and lakes, evergreen forests full of life, or the breathtaking beauty of popular national parks, it’s nothing compared to a stone’s throw from this environmental nightmare.

So what are oil sands and how big are they?

Tar sands, sometimes called oil sands, are a huge site of oil extraction in Alberta. They cover an area larger than England there are more one of the largest industrial projects on the planet.

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What is tar sand oil and why is it so bad for the environment?

The type of oil in tar sands is called “bitumen”. It is extremely heavy (like tar) and difficult to remove. Carrying it from the depths of the ground to the surface could consume enormous amounts of water – enough to rival What can a small town use on daily basis. Refining it into anything that goes into your gas tank requires even more water and energy. The amount of climate-polluting greenhouse gases emitted per barrel of tar sands oil may 30% more (over its entire life cycle) compared to conventional oil.

What is the impact of tar sands on climate change and boreal forest?

Canada’s oil and gas sector is largest and fastest growing The source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, which accounts for 26% of the total. Tar sands are a major culprit. Between 1990 and 2018, tar sands production increased by 456%. industry’s carbon footprint is more than New Zealand and Kenya Joint.

nature advocate assessment That industrial development and wildfires in the tar sands area have cleared or destroyed nearly two million acres of boreal forest since the turn of the millennium. it puts important accommodation At risk to birds, caribou and other animals. This is also a climate issue because boreal forest is a critical carbon sink.

The world cannot afford to expand the Alberta tar sands, not if we want to preserve this planet for future generations. current supply are already affected Biodiversity crisis and climate change and its effects on sea level rise, drinking water, disease and extreme weather events.

How do tar sands violate indigenous rights, and how are communities fighting back?

Yes. Through the years, tar sands have encroached upon the traditional lands of indigenous peoples and contaminated the environment and wildlife these communities depend on for their culture and lifestyle. tar sand chemicals have been further added high rates of cancer in indigenous communities and dangerous air pollution.

And the tar sands effect doesn’t last in Canada. Globally, indigenous communities and the Global South are on the front lines of climate impacts. In 2017, Pacific Islander indigenous leaders came face-to-face with tar sands, a culprit in planetary warming leading to rising sea levels, which is currently having devastating effects on their homes and families. Learn more about his emotional journey below.

Indigenous people are also leading the resistance against tar sands projects that violate their rights. Roughly 150 nations have signed Treaty Against Tar Sands Expansion. group likes indigenous climate action, the braided warriors, the Tiny House Warriors And others are opposing pipelines like the Trans Mountain expansion and building indigenous-led solutions.

What are the major projects expanding tar sands?

The stakes are high in the tar sands – for communities and for the world. But instead of putting the brakes on expanding operations, Canadian governments helping the industry Step on the gas.

Several major oil and gas pipelines that cross indigenous lands without consent are supported by federal and provincial governments. Among them are:

  • Trans Mountain Expansion (tmx): Originally proposed by Kinder Morgan, then purchased by the Canadian government in 2018, the pipeline would run from Alberta to the Vancouver area, drinking water threats And bringing in increased oil tanker traffic that threatens the endangered orca whale. read more.
  • Keystone XL: Backed by the Canadian government and canceled by US President Joe Biden, the TC Energy Pipeline will run from Alberta to Nebraska, another for oil transport in sensitive aquifers critical for drinking and farming waters, before reaching the Gulf Coast of Texas. connects to the pipeline. but do study more Indigenous protests here in Canada And this Affects south of the colonial border.
  • Line 3: Gas giant Enbridge wants to build a tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Wisconsin, even if the company is responsible for one of the worst and most expensive Inland oil spill in history. The pipeline will carry vital river water as well as through the wetlands and treaty area of ​​the Anishinaabe people. Read more about Fight Against Line 3.

Many of these pipeline projects or the companies behind them are funded by private investors, large banks (such as Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC and TD Bank) and even Canadian taxpayers in the case of TMX. . read more Why financing pipelines is financially risky.

How can I help prevent tar sands pipelines and other expansion projects?

You can take the first step by joining our organization as well as supporting Indigenous-led struggles. Greenpeace activists are taking to the streets, exercising our right to peaceful protest, signing petitions, meeting with our Members of Parliament and holding corporations accountable.. Every day, more and more of us are standing up for climate justice and opposing the industry’s efforts to expand oil and gas production. Join us in calling on the Canadian government to defuse one of the largest carbon bombs on Earth.

This blog was updated in May 2021.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of knews.uk and knews.uk does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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