From July 4-7, 2008, Canadian youth from coast to coast to coast gathered in Edmonton for a three day long climate summit. We came to form a united front of youth whose vision is to stop further development on the Alberta (and Saskatchewan) Tarsands with a transition to a just and sustainable energy future through Green jobs and renewable energy. We recognize that this will not be easy...
However, it is so worth it! Canada can't meet our Kyoto targets because of the Alberta Tarsands, and the world can't meet Kyoto targets without Canada. The Alberta Tarsands and the soon to begin development of the Saskatchewan Tarsands is an issue that affects everyone on this planet.
I found out about the National Youth Climate Summit only shortly before the event, yet I instantly knew that I needed to go. Three friends of mine also attended from Regina, and it was so much fun to carpool with them.
The summit started off with in-depth education about the Tarsands. We learned not only about the shocking statistics, but also about the people whose lives have been hurt so badly by them. Apparently, the Alberta boom is a lot like the Saskatchewan boom; only corporations, the very elite, and the extremely wealthy scum are benefitting from it. Two thirds of the people who find jobs created by the Tarsands are laid off after the construction phase. Families that have relocated to Alberta, and more specifically Fort McMurray, are faced with insanely high housing costs along with no income after these lay-offs. Fort McMurray has grown from a city of 40,000 to 65,000 practically over night! Forecasts from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo's Strategic Planning and Policy Division indicate that the city will reach a population of 100,000 by 2012. The rates of suicide, drug/alcohol addiction, and spousal abuse have gone way up in Fort McMurray. The city can not keep up with the housing and healthcare demands of such rapid growth. So, why are so many people moving to a place that is out of control? It's simple really. The answer is money.
As I understand it, average people from overseas and across Canada (especially from somewhat nearby cities like Moose Jaw) come to Fort McMurray to receive fantastic wages for working twelve hour-long shifts in extremely dangerous jobs. Sometimes their families come with them; sometimes they get left behind. The rows of little white crosses that line the surrounding overcrowded highways are a blatant symbol that far too rapid expansion simply for the sake of maximum profit is far more important to the oil and gas corporations than human life is.
Regina Ecoliving has an amazing article entitled "Canada's Highway to Hell" about the devasting effects of the Alberta Tarsands.
I strongly encourage you to read the full article here.
This article offers such vital information, especially for those of us in Saskatchewan who are about to be subjected to the same woes once the next sale (August 11) of Crown petroleum and natural gas dispositions, including oil sands exploratory permits begins.
A few Quotes from "Canada's Highway to Hell"-- by Regina Ecoliving:
"Most locals call it Hell's Highway or the Highway of Death. On any given day thousands of logging trucks, SUVs, semitrailers, buses, and tanker trucks form a frantic parade to and from North America's largest engineering project. Convoys of extrawide loads often block an entire lane of the highway with turbines, tires, or house-size coker ovens used in oil processing. In fact, Highway 63 ferries one of the highest tonnages per mile of any road in Canada.
This congestion encourages a certain do-or-die recklessness. Impatient drivers not only pass on solid lines on hills but do so at speeds of 140 miles an hour. As a consequence, road accidents tend to be fatal or bloodily spectacular: Every month as many as four tar-sands workers get decapitated, skewered, or incinerated."
"With nearly 175 billion barrels in proven reserves, the tar sands represent the biggest pile of hydrocarbons outside Saudi Arabia. Many experts suspect they hold eight times that much."
"Most Americans don't know it, but approximately 16 percent of their oil imports already come from northern Alberta. Plans drafted last year by the North American Energy Working Group, which is made up of high-ranking Canadian and U.S. officials, recommend boosting production from one million barrels a day to five million barrels in a "relatively short time span." So the tar sands could soon be topping up a quarter of the U.S. gas tank."
"The (Alberta Tarsands) project will eventually transform a boreal forest the size of Florida into an industrial sacrifice zone complete with lakes full of toxic waste and man-made volcanoes spewing out clouds of greenhouse gases. Are Canadians willing to create an environmental disaster in Alberta in order to provide the U.S. market with some of the most expensive oil in the world? The answer seems to be an emphatic yes."
Please visit the Regian Ecoliving website by clicking here to read the rest of this very informative article.
It doesn't have to be this way. It musn't be this way. It is hard to write about without tears in my eyes. What have we done?
And where is all this oil going?
In all honesty, it's going to kill civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's going to the U.S. war effort. With tankers that easily use one gallon of gas per mile, not to mention the huge amount of fuel needed for air power attacks. Alberta Tarsands production will soon be lifted from 1 million to 5 million barrels a day! Yikes! Producing 1 million barrels a day already uses as much natural gas as it would take to provide heat to 4 million homes! With 5 million barrels a day, that is equivalent to heating 20 million homes.
Forget about Kyoto, forget about a future for my generation's children and grandchildren.
But on with the "war on terror"!?