The Oil Sands – Before and After

I really hoped to avoid ever getting too Greenpeace-y environmentalist on this blog. But when I thought about it, simplicity and sustainability go pretty well hand-in-hand, as over-consumption has pushed the carrying capacity of earth to its upper limits. So I figured I could get away with this one, just once.

In class the other day, learning about ways we can transition away from fossil fuels to more less-impacting methods, our professor stuck these photos up on the projector:




That’s pretty crazy. You know what they call all that beautiful natural stuff you see in the first picture? “Overburden.” Oil sands companies claim good intentions for eventual reclamation back to that original state, but according to Suncor’s 2014 Sustainability Report, they’ve reclaimed less than 8% of the total disturbed land…and that number has grown very slowly, not to mention it’s pretty unlikely to look anything like the original for a long, long time.

I know this sort of post on the internet usually elicits responses like “well don’t you drive a car? Don’t be hypocritical and condemn fossil fuels then fly to Hawaii for vacation!” I fully understand the predicament of dependency we’ve got ourselves in, and I use fossil fuels every day, though I do my best to minimize how much I use them. I just want to simply point out that this sucks, and there has to be a better way.

So step 1 is for us, the public, to use less of the stuff, but it’s also going to take a pretty heavy-duty restructuring of the whole system to totally get away from this destructive practice.


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