Those Tar Sands: Add nukes and stir up more cancer?
By Liz Armstrong, PCN Board member
How hare-brained is this? The Alberta government is now asking its citizens to consider nuclear power to help extract the oil from its vast and gooey tar sands, so we can continue to feed our North American fossil fuel addiction. Nukes are supposed to make what will soon be Canada’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases a little more benign. By 2015, Alberta’s tar sands GHG emissions are expected to rise to 108 -126 megatonnes per annum — which would make it the single largest contributor to GHG emissions in Canada.
NASA’s James Hansen, one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change, is blunt about Alberta’s huge oil resource: “The tar sands of Canada constitute one of our planet’s greatest threats. They are a double-barreled threat. First, producing oil from tar sands emits two-to-three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil. But the process also diminishes one of the best carbon-reduction tools on the planet: Canada’s Boreal Forest.”
Dr. Hansen is no foe of nuclear power; in fact, he recommends nuclear power generation as a way to mitigate climate change – the lesser of evils. But since we have no idea what to do with nuclear waste virtually anywhere in the world, to say nothing of the destruction that uranium mining causes, it’s just plain stupid to add carcinogenic insult to an already massively toxic injury.
See photos and story, Scraping Bottom: The Canadian Oil Boom, in National Geographic’s March ’09 issue
To take action to stop the Tar Sands, go to
• Rainforest Action Network
• It’s Getting Hot in Here (Dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement)
• For more information, go to the Pembina Institute’s Oil Sands Watch
In our next issue of An Ounce, watch for our review of Andrew Nikiforuk’s new book, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.
Also in this Issue on An Ounce …