I'm all for the End of Oil. But the tar-sands vilification got so it pissed me off and I find myself in a surprising place - in the trench with companies I've never liked. What gets to me:
- Greenpeace created the "world's dirtiest oil" moniker with a large, sustained media campaign. I'm amazed it survived the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. I mean, really, it's worse than just spewing a fantastic amount of raw crude right into one of the world's most fecund ocean biomes and commercial fisheries, no way to clean it up at all? Greenpeace isn't a bunch of guys around a card table anymore, their budget is $300M/year. They love theatrical campaigns more than scientific ones; it's about what creates emotion, not real ecological results.
- Presuming (perhaps, a big presumption) that we keep on top of them with regulation, the open-pit mines are eventually filled back in and trees stuck on top - the ones where they've already done it are of course the first stop on the tour. Yes, the current mines are 200 sq. mi., "you can see them from space"
- Accounts vary (for some reason) but I tend to trust New Scientist Magazine as pretty objective - their figure was that it takes the release of 70kg of carbon to extract tar sands oil, compared to 50kg for conventional. But both barrels are then *burned* releasing 200-300kg (depends on gas/diesel/etc), so the total lifecyle increase of carbon is under 10%. Yes, that's bad, but concentrating all hatred of carbon onto one source of it is, again, theatre, not science. It's like banning 3000lb SUVs and feeling very virtuous as you buy a 2700 lb SUV.
- But above all, picking on these companies and their pipeline schemes is attacking the *producer*, not the consumption end. Speaking of "America is addicted to oil", how has that strategy worked out for the War on Drugs? It's funny, the same very liberal folks who will shake their heads at the raw stupidity of the Drug War ("all it does is drive up the costs and bring in more ruthless producers to fill the hole") imagine it will work on energy that everybody wants to buy.
I'm all for shutting down the tar sands - but by hitting the consumption end, with research and incentives for batteries, electric cars, thorium and fusion power plants...the latter having the much greater benefit of first killing off coal-powered electric generation, a greater greenhouse issue than all oil. But when the inflection point hits with electric transportation and oil consumption actually goes *down*, the most expensive sources (tar sands) will be the first ones shuttered. Speed the day.
PS: Yes, I'm from Calgary. But I don't work in oil/gas, nor does anybody close to me. This is not as much about Canada as you may imagine. Almost all the $200B invested up there is from American companies. We barely tax them - less for oil than Palin's Alaska or Cheney's Wyoming. Our cut was just jobs building it. My family pioneered Alberta for two generations before oil was discovered - and they'll be around after it's all gone. Good riddance; but the ridding has to *work*. To make it work, we have to change a whole technological base of a society, not just rail at scapegoats.