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Indigenous Alliances: Tar Sands & Amazon

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March 17, 2015, 01:52 PM
Indigenous Alliances: Tar Sands & Amazon
Hi there,

We are currently working on a documentary film "The Condor & The Eagle" addressing Indigenous rights issues in the Canadian Tar Sands and the Amazon in South America. On our 18 months journey we are travelling to various communities that are impacted by extractive oil industries.

2015 Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo says about the upcoming documentary film "The Condor & The Eagle":
I am very impressed with this inspiring Indigenous alliance initiative - bringing together Indigenous leaders from the North and from the South. The Condor And The Eagle is an important Documentary Film in the making, witnessing how the Indigenous people are organizing their communities around Mother wisdom. They need our help to finish the film! They need our support to make sure our brothers and sisters from the Amazon and North America grow this driving force we need in the face of growing climate chaos. Their common voice carries a great deal of power and their wisdom is essential for the task at hand. Come on friends, let’s show them some support!

We invite you to get more info about our initiative HERE.

THIS is the link to our website.

If you believe our work is important, we would highly appreciate if you could take the time to contact directly 2 or 3 people you believe would be interested in supporting such a project; we have only a few days left to raise the funds!

Sophie & Clement
March 17, 2015, 02:23 PM
john galt
The Canadian deposits are oilsands not "Tar Sands". Your erroneous bias is showing. No doubt you will use no petroleum products while making this propaganda piece, otherwise you would be hypocrites.

March 17, 2015, 05:24 PM
Hi John,

Originally posted by john galt:
The Canadian deposits are oilsands not "Tar Sands". Your erroneous bias is showing.
What’s in a Name?
The oil industry and the Alberta and federal governments prefer the term “oil sands,” while most opponents use the dirtier-sounding “tar sands.”
Technically, both “tar sands” and “oil sands” are inaccurate. The substance in question is actually bituminous sand, a mixture of sand, clay, water and an extremely viscous form of petroleum called bitumen, which itself contains a noxious combination of sulphur, nitrogen, salts, carcinogens, heavy metals and other toxins.

I think your bias is showing John

No doubt you will use no petroleum products while making this propaganda piece, otherwise you would be hypocrites.
Tnere is no logic in that statement John.
Just because a person does not support the Cage Egg industry or the use of "Sow Stalls" in pig production does not mean they would be hypocrites if they eat bacon and eggs.

March 17, 2015, 08:18 PM
john galt
The Athabaska river flows through a region of natural oil seeps that have contaminated the water for thousands of years. Historically, the bitumen was used by the indigenous Cree and Dene Aboriginal peoples to waterproof their canoes. The people of Ft Chip and Ft McKay have always had poor health and a higher than normal incidence of cancer. The elders tell stories of people always being sick. Prior to the oil sands development they blamed it on the WAC Bennett dam. Previous federal and provincial governments have tried to move the people to a safer location but they refuse to leave.

March 17, 2015, 08:50 PM
john galt
Alarmist propaganda not supported by facts.

... growing climate chaos. ...

Scientist tells senators: Global warming not causing extreme weather

In a Senate hearing Thursday, environmental scientist Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado said it’s “incorrect” to claim that global warming is spurring more extreme weather disasters.

“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke said in his testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

“Hurricanes have not increased in the U.S. in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900,” Pielke added. “The same holds for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970.”

Pielke, however, notes that U.S. floods have not increased in “frequency or intensity” since 1950 and economic losses from floods have dropped by 75 percent as a percentage of GDP since 1940. Tornado frequency, intensity, and normalized damages have also not increased since 1950, and Pielke even notes that there is some evidence that this has declined.

Pielke noted in his testimony that droughts have been shorter, less frequent, and have covered a smaller portion of the U.S over the last century. Globally, there has been very little change in the last 60 years, he said.

March 17, 2015, 09:07 PM
john galt
The U.S. produces ~15% of the world's GHG emissions, and ~30% of that comes from toxic polluting coal-fired electricit­y. China produces ~30% of the world's GHG emissions, and about 40% of that comes from toxic polluting coal-fired electricit­y. Only half of China's coal burning is for electricit­y, and toxic pollution controls in China are practicall­y non-existe­nt.

Canada only produces 2% of the world's man-made GHGs and the oilsands only produce 5% of Canada's total emissions. The Oilsands produces one tenth of one percent [0.1%] of the world's GHG emissions.

The 530-square-kilometers currently disturbed by the oilsands is being reclaimed as an ongoing part of the mine plan as required by law and will return to Alberta's 381,000 square kilometers of boreal forest, which is a huge carbon sink. Over 67km2 has been reclaimed which is larger than Manhattan.

Most water in oilsands production is recycled or is saline water. Water usage in oilsands extraction has dropped and continues to do so. It takes a higher water usage ratio to make ethanol then it does to extract oil from oilsands.

March 17, 2015, 10:37 PM
The Alberta Tar sands have a huge carbon footprint.

To illustrate, a Honda Accord burning tar sands gasoline has the same climate impact as a Chevy Suburban using conventional gasoline.

The average passenger vehicle in the USA got 21.6 miles per US Gallon in 2010 and lasted for 212,000 miles
This requires burning 9,722 gallons of gasoline per vehicle whichwill produce 87 tonnes of CO2 (tCO2). Gasoline produces 8.92 kgCO2/USGallon
Using tar sands gasoline increases wells-to-wheels emissions by 22% leading to an extra 19 tCO2 for an average vehicle.

March 18, 2015, 03:41 AM
john galt
Coal in Australia is mined primarily in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. It is used to generate electricity and exported, mostly to eastern Asia. ... Coal provides about 85% of Australia's electricity production.[1] In fiscal year 2008/09, 487 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 261 million tonnes exported.[2] In 2010, Australia was the world's fourth-largest coal producer, after China, the United States, and India. However, in terms of proportion of production exported, Australia is the world's largest coal exporter, as it exports roughly 70% of coal production.[3]

Coal Mining in Australia has been the subject of criticism from members of the environmental movement,[4][5] because of its impact on the rural landscape and burning coal releases carbon dioxide, which is generally understood to contribute to climate change, global warming, sea level rise and the effects of global warming on Australia.[6] source:Wikipedia

Oil from Canada's oilsands is relatively clean compared with Australian coal, the dirtiest energy source on the planet. Australia is a major contributor to global GHGs and toxic pollution. Any Aussie pointing a finger at Canada in terms of global pollution is a hypocrite staring into a mirror and pointing at themself.

March 18, 2015, 06:58 AM
The Alberta tar sands produce lakes of toxic sludge.

A 2013 report concluded that an accident related to the failure of one of the tar sands tailings ponds could have catastrophic impact in the aquatic ecosystem of the Mackenzie River Basin due to the size of these lakes and their proximity to the Athabasca River. Also, according to documents from the Canadian government, the tailings ponds are leaking into and contaminating Alberta groundwater.

Canada produces ~70 Mt of coal each year. Burning that releases around 140 MtCO2.
Canada produced 1.6 million barrels of tar sands per day in 2011, or 585 million barrels a year. Each barrel of bitumen produces 0.521 tCO2 when burned. That yields around 300MtCO2 – double the emissions from burning all Canadian-mined coal.

Tar sands production is expected to more than double by 20209 yielding over 650Mt CO2 when burned.

March 18, 2015, 02:37 PM
Hi guys,
Thanks for starting a discussion about the tar sands/oil sands!

There are many scientists that agree on Tar Sands Oil extraction being one of the dirtiest form of fuel in the entire globe!

Here a bit of background info, found on

- 11 million litres of toxic wastewater seep out of the tailing pits into the boreal forest and Athabasca river every day. That´s 4 billion litres a year. National Energy Board, Canada´s Oil Sands: Opportunities and Challenges to 2015

- Canada is home to 2 of 3 of the top 3 largest dams in the world. They´re used to hold back toxic sludge. Wikipedia

- 95% of the water used in oil sands surface mining is so polluted it has to be stored in toxic sludge pits. That´s 206,000 litres of toxic waste discharged every day. Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development, Oil Sands Information Portal

- In 46 years of development, only 0.15% of the environment disturbed is certified as "reclaimed". In the end, there is no way to return the boreal forest to its natural state.

- A higher incidence of rare and deadly cancers has been documented in First Nations communities downstream of the oil sands by doctors, the Alberta Health Department and First Nations since 2007. Alberta Cancer Board

- The Beaver Lake Cree (First Nation) have documented 20,000 treaty rights violations in the face of oil Sands Expansion.

- Canadian federal taxpayers subsidize the oil industry $1.38 billion a year. BlueGreen Canada

- Carbon emissions from the production and processing of the oil sands have more than doubled in the last decade and are on track to double again. Environment Canada

- Oil sands production is set to expand from 1.9 million barrels a day to over 5 million a day. The International Energy Agency reports that this level of production fits global demand scenarios that lead to a catastrophic increase in global temperature. International Energy Agency

- More than 600 million cubic feet of natural gas are used per day to extract and upgrade the oil from the oil sands. That´s enough to heat more than 3 million Canadian homes every day - almost every house in Western Canada. Prembina Institute

- Canada´s climate performance is the worst in the entire Western world. Germanwatch, Climate Action Network Europe

- Oil sands production emits 3-4 times more greenhouse gases than producing conventional crude oil. This makes it one of the world´s dirtiest forms of fuel.

Sophie & Clement

This message has been edited. Last edited by: The_Takeoff,
March 18, 2015, 02:59 PM
john galt
No doubt some fools believe that, and if scammers can con others into giving them money then why not. Scamming is always easier than honest work. Some of us prefer to make an honest living.
Learn the important difference between subsidies to scams that never show a profit like wind power, and legitimate tax deductions that all businesses use, including petroleum companies.
Coal is much dirtier than oilsands petroleum, both in terms of toxic pollution and GHGs. Anyone who doesn't acknowledge that is an obvious greenwashed scammer.

March 18, 2015, 03:34 PM
Hi The Takeoff,
Don't mind Mr Galt.

Unfortunately, over the years, he has found that if he rants and raves, foams at the mouth and talks gibberish, most people will agree with him.

On this forum we just smile and nod knowingly. He is very entertaining.

No doubt some fools believe that, and if scammers can con others into giving them money then why not. Scamming is always easier than honest work. Some of us prefer to make an honest living.
Learn the important difference between subsidies to scams that never show a profit like wind power, and legitimate tax deductions that all businesses use, including petroleum companies.
Coal is much dirtier than oilsands petroleum, both in terms of toxic pollution and GHGs. Anyone who doesn't acknowledge that is an obvious greenwashed scammer.

March 18, 2015, 03:50 PM
john galt
Tilly lives in Queensland, a major contributor to coal fired toxic global pollution. Of course he would try to deflect attention from the toxic pollution burning coal spews into the air.

March 18, 2015, 04:25 PM
Thanks Tilly, I just realized that Galt is spamming this post and actually the whole forum with lots of words but no scientifical content. Let's ignore him gracefully Wink
March 18, 2015, 05:12 PM
john galt

This striking statistic and chart comes from this well-sourced Next Big Future article (, which places the average number of deaths per terawatt-hour at 0.04 for nuclear (this takes Chernobyl into account), 36 for oil, and a whopping 161 for coal worldwide. The death rate per TWh of coal is even higher in China, at 278. (A terawatt-hour is the amount of work done by one terawatt of power expended for one hour of time.)

The deaths from traditional fuel sources are generally not as high-profile as those from nuclear energy — particularly the one million deaths that the World Health Organization estimates occur each year due to coal-related air pollution. But this only serves to illustrate the tendency of people — and the media that feeds that tendency — to focus on the high-impact and low-probability rather than the pervasive and pernicious.

March 18, 2015, 05:25 PM
john galt
There are problems with oil, gas and coal, but their benefits for people—and the planet—are beyond dispute

From The Wall Street Journal, 14 March 2015

By Matt Ridley

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.

These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress.

In 2013, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.

Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonizing the energy system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.

On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)

The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology. The U.S.—the country with the oldest and most developed hydrocarbon fields—has found itself once again, surprisingly, at the top of the energy-producing league, rivaling Saudi Arabia in oil and Russia in gas.

The shale genie is now out of the bottle. Even if the current low price drives out some high-cost oil producers—in the North Sea, Canada, Russia, Iran and offshore, as well as in America—shale drillers can step back in whenever the price rebounds. As Mark Hill of Allegro Development Corporation argued last week, the frackers are currently experiencing their own version of Moore’s law: a rapid fall in the cost and time it takes to drill a well, along with a rapid rise in the volume of hydrocarbons they are able to extract.

And the shale revolution has yet to go global. When it does, oil and gas in tight rock formations will give the world ample supplies of hydrocarbons for decades, if not centuries. Lurking in the wings for later technological breakthroughs is methane hydrate, a seafloor source of gas that exceeds in quantity all the world’s coal, oil and gas put together.

So those who predict the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels are merely repeating the mistakes of the U.S. presidential commission that opined in 1922 that “already the output of gas has begun to wane. Production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate.” Or President Jimmy Carter when he announced on television in 1977 that “we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”

That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so.

The second argument for giving up fossil fuels is that new rivals will shortly price them out of the market. But it is not happening. The great hope has long been nuclear energy, but even if there is a rush to build new nuclear power stations over the next few years, most will simply replace old ones due to close. The world’s nuclear output is down from 6% of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4% today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7% by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.

Nuclear’s problem is cost. In meeting the safety concerns of environmentalists, politicians and regulators added requirements for extra concrete, steel and pipework, and even more for extra lawyers, paperwork and time. The effect was to make nuclear plants into huge and lengthy boondoggles with no competition or experimentation to drive down costs. Nuclear is now able to compete with fossil fuels only when it is subsidized.

As for renewable energy, hydroelectric is the biggest and cheapest supplier, but it has the least capacity for expansion. Technologies that tap the energy of waves and tides remain unaffordable and impractical, and most experts think that this won’t change in a hurry. Geothermal is a minor player for now. And bioenergy—that is, wood, ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, or diesel made from palm oil—is proving an ecological disaster: It encourages deforestation and food-price hikes that cause devastation among the world’s poor, and per unit of energy produced, it creates even more carbon dioxide than coal.

Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.

Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners (I am a landowner and can testify that I receive and refuse many offers of risk-free wind and solar subsidies).

It is true that some countries subsidize the use of fossil fuels, but they do so at a much lower rate—the world average is about $1.20 per gigajoule—and these are mostly subsidies for consumers (not producers), so they tend to help the poor, for whom energy costs are a disproportionate share of spending.

The costs of renewable energy are coming down, especially in the case of solar. But even if solar panels were free, the power they produce would still struggle to compete with fossil fuel—except in some very sunny locations—because of all the capital equipment required to concentrate and deliver the energy. This is to say nothing of the great expanses of land on which solar facilities must be built and the cost of retaining sufficient conventional generator capacity to guarantee supply on a dark, cold, windless evening.

The two fundamental problems that renewables face are that they take up too much space and produce too little energy. Consider Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane now flying around the world. Despite its huge wingspan (similar to a 747), slow speed and frequent stops, the only cargo that it can carry is the pilots themselves. That is a good metaphor for the limitations of renewables.

To run the U.S. economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined—backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested.

John Constable, who will head a new Energy Institute at the University of Buckingham in Britain, points out that the trickle of energy that human beings managed to extract from wind, water and wood before the Industrial Revolution placed a great limit on development and progress. The incessant toil of farm laborers generated so little surplus energy in the form of food for men and draft animals that the accumulation of capital, such as machinery, was painfully slow. Even as late as the 18th century, this energy-deprived economy was sufficient to enrich daily life for only a fraction of the population.

Our old enemy, the second law of thermodynamics, is the problem here. As a teenager’s bedroom generally illustrates, left to its own devices, everything in the world becomes less ordered, more chaotic, tending toward “entropy,” or thermodynamic equilibrium. To reverse this tendency and make something complex, ordered and functional requires work. It requires energy.

The more energy you have, the more intricate, powerful and complex you can make a system. Just as human bodies need energy to be ordered and functional, so do societies. In that sense, fossil fuels were a unique advance because they allowed human beings to create extraordinary patterns of order and complexity—machines and buildings—with which to improve their lives.

The result of this great boost in energy is what the economic historian and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment. In the case of the U.S., there has been a roughly 9,000% increase in the value of goods and services available to the average American since 1800, almost all of which are made with, made of, powered by or propelled by fossil fuels.

Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.

Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America. The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.

To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?

Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased. At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14% increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980.

That carbon-dioxide emissions should cause warming is not a new idea. In 1938, the British scientist [Guy Callendar] thought that he could already detect warming as a result of carbon-dioxide emissions. He reckoned, however, that this was “likely to prove beneficial to mankind” by shifting northward the climate where cultivation was possible.

Only in the 1970s and 1980s did scientists begin to say that the mild warming expected as a direct result of burning fossil fuels—roughly a degree Celsius per doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere—might be greatly amplified by water vapor and result in dangerous warming of two to four degrees a century or more. That “feedback” assumption of high “sensitivity” remains in virtually all of the mathematical models used to this day by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

And yet it is increasingly possible that it is wrong. As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest. They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40% lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.

If these conclusions are right, they would explain the failure of the Earth’s surface to warm nearly as fast as predicted over the past 35 years, a time when—despite carbon-dioxide levels rising faster than expected—the warming rate has never reached even two-tenths of a degree per decade and has slowed down to virtually nothing in the past 15 to 20 years. This is one reason the latest IPCC report did not give a “best estimate” of sensitivity and why it lowered its estimate of near-term warming.

Most climate scientists remain reluctant to abandon the models and take the view that the current “hiatus” has merely delayed rapid warming. A turning point to dangerously rapid warming could be around the corner, even though it should have shown up by now. So it would be wise to do something to cut our emissions, so long as that something does not hurt the poor and those struggling to reach a modern standard of living.

We should encourage the switch from coal to gas in the generation of electricity, provide incentives for energy efficiency, get nuclear power back on track and keep developing solar power and electricity storage. We should also invest in research on ways to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, by fertilizing the ocean or fixing it through carbon capture and storage. Those measures all make sense. And there is every reason to promote open-ended research to find some unexpected new energy technology.

The one thing that will not work is the one thing that the environmental movement insists upon: subsidizing wealthy crony capitalists to build low-density, low-output, capital-intensive, land-hungry renewable energy schemes, while telling the poor to give up the dream of getting richer through fossil fuels.

Mr. Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” and a member of the British House of Lords. He is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.

March 18, 2015, 08:47 PM
Spills and Leaks

The unsavory impacts of the tar sands are not limited to northern Alberta. Rapid tar sands expansion is creating a growing network of pipelines and oil tankers that make rivers, coastlines and communities all over North America vulnerable to the devastating impacts of tar sands oil leaks and spills.

The most recent spills in Marshall, Michigan and Mayflower, Arkansas show tar sands pipelines leak a kind of oil that is much more toxic and difficult to clean up than conventional crude, and a massive spill from an oil tanker loaded with tar sands crude would devastate fisheries, communities and economies along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

March 20, 2015, 04:40 AM
Oil as we know it is liquid. Sand tar requires heat and/or diluents to render it plumbable.
I know. I've worked there Wink