Tar Sands Crimes

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On Sunday, January 20, I was one of two speakers at a public meeting entitled “Can We Stop Global Warming,” sponsored by the Vancouver Socialist Forum. My talk will be broadcast in Vancouver this week as part of “a special look at climate and the capitalist malaise” on Alex Smith’s excellent Radio Ecoshock program.

  • UPDATE: This program is now available online in MP3 format.

From Alex Smith’s introduction and conclusion to that program:

Macdonald Stainsby is coordinator of a website called oilsandstruth.org.The Tar Sands megaprojects in Northern Alberta, Canada are so horrible, so insane, I don’t really want to talk about it. In fact, most Canadians – and Americans, prefer not to think about this issue at all.

It is the world’s largest strip mining operation. It is Canada’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. The Tar Sands are melting down gluey rock to feed America’s energy addiction.

As Stainsby will tell us, in this speech recorded in Vancouver January 20th, 2008 – in the Middle East, it takes about one barrel of oil to produce one hundred barrels of oil. A hundred to one gain in energy. But in the Tar Sands, it takes one barrel to produce just three.

Meanwhile, all the natural gas of Canada’s arctic, which was once destined to heat homes, is now earmarked for the Tar Sands, to melt down the rock. When that high quality gas is used up, the big oil companies propose to build nuclear power plants, instead.

The Northern Rivers are being drained off. It takes at least 4 liters of water to make one liter of oil. Giant toxic tailings ponds are building up, and leaching back into the river systems.

I won’t go on. The Tar Sands, for all these reasons, and for the climate change they bring, have been called a crime against humanity.

MacDonald Stainsby tells us all we need to know, in a series of reality-checks for a society desperate for oil at any price. Stainsby describes himself as “Rad-Green” – part of a radical anti-capitalist green movement. In fact, he is a wide-ranging social activist, fighting against war, for unions, and against oppression of Indigenous people. He believes we are facing both Peak Oil, and severe climate change, at the same time.

You can download this speech from our website at www.ecoshock.org. Look on our Peak Oil or Climate Change pages, of the audio on demand menu. The speech was part of a presentation called “Can We Stop Global Climate Change” put on by the Vancouver Socialists.

MacDonald Stainsby’s articles are published in alternative journalist like CounterPunch, ZNet, BriarPatch and Dominion Magazine. In particular, you should search out the special Tar Sands edition of Dominion Magazine, for November 2007. It is a 47 page guide with maps, photos – awful photos – and insider stories from people literally working in the camps.

It is a portrait of life under total corporate control – in some ways like a well-paid Stalinist dream.

You can find this issue of Dominion Magazine online at dominionpaper.ca/tarsands.

And don’t forget Stainsby’s Tar Sands site at oilsandstruth.org

The Tar Sands aren’t about Alberta, or even Canada. There is a developing network of pipelines and refineries connecting this giant spiderweb of oil from the very high Arctic of Alaska, to the American Mid-West, and all the way down to Texas. If the Middle East blows up, worse than it already has. If Venezuela or Russia shut off the energy tap – America and American oil companies plan to wring out the Canadian landscape for every last drop of oil. Canada is the security blanket for American motorists and power companies.

No Canadian political party, other than the Greens, has called for an end of Tar Sands development. The current government is totally oil-friendly, trying to remove impediments like environmental laws or native people. Royalties are lower than anywhere else on Earth, and the usual big corporate tax subsidies for oil are in place.

Government will never stop the Tar Sands, as long as political parties accept corporate donations. As the leader of the Liberals, the alleged climate man Stephan Dion said: No one can stop the Tar Sands. There is just too much money in it.

Only the workers, and the people of Canada, can fight off this vampire destroying the land, the water, and the atmosphere. Please get active.

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