Ok, so it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “no blood for oil,” but it’s becoming the rallying cry for a cause that’s very serious and very close to home.
If you’ve got Insider Edition access to theglobeandmail.com, or if you can get your hands on a hard copy, read Jeffrey Simpson today. In a column titled Alberta’s tar sands are soaking up too much water, he outlines concerns that the Green Party and others have been raising for some time.
In summary, it takes anywhere from 2 to 4.5 barrels of water to extract and refine one barrel of oil from the Alberta tar sands. That province, which is already one of most dry provinces in Canada, is using more than 7% of their water on the oil and gas industry. (Oh, and funny story, that’s made worse by the fact that they’re also losing glaciers and snow packs faster than I lose elections. How’s that for ironic?)
So that’s a problem. To say nothing of the acids (yes McBain, real acid), mercury, and other toxins that are left over after the oil is separated from the bitumen, sand, and other residue. Not to mention all the other reasons that continuing to increase oil extraction and consumption is a bad idea, including Peak Oil (we’re gonna run out of the stuff…) and the Climate Crisis (…unless we wipe ourselves out first).
And it’s not just airhuggers who are worried. The Pembina Institute released a 154 page study a few months ago reaching the same conclusions, and even the Canada West Foundation thinks it’s maybe not such a good idea for the government of Alberta to be practically giving this water away for free.
In the mean time, I’m open to other clever slogan ideas. So far I’ve got “make love, not pools of toxic sludge,” and “all we are saying is give renewables a chance.” They could use some work.