“The True Cost of Oil” Reflection

After watching Garth Lenz’s Ted Talk on the repercussions and negative externalities of oil mining in Canada, my initial reaction is one of extreme fear.

Lenz opens his Ted Talk by introducing the audience to the many lakes and networks of Canada that make it one of the largest sources of natural water in the world. Home to  indigenous populations that are rich in culture, these rainforests and remote ecosystems are being sullied by the Alberta tar sands. Lenz explains that these mines, (now at 10 – each the size of a large such like Victoria – soon to be 40-50) are producing a “dirty oil” that produce more greenhouse emissions than any other oil in the world. Furthermore, the trailing ponds dump 250,000 tons of toxic waste daily which is getting into food chains, and not only causing cancer rates to go up, but also making food far more expensive for the indigenous people of the area.

Moreover, Lenz describes the importance of the Boreal to the environment, as it is a greenhouse gas sink that “sequesters more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem.” In perhaps the most frightening part of the entire talk, Lenz explains that these oil tycoons are turning this carbon sink into a “carbon bomb”.

Lenz’s  Ted Talk is essentially getting us to open our eyes to the importance of protecting the boreal and rainforests of Canada, which he explains are the greatest defence against global warming.

Hearing this Ted Talk is incredibly difficult, frustrating and maddening. Mainly because the solution is clear, but we, as a human race, are ignoring it. I think the reason that bad decisions being made about the environment are often overlooked because we are scared to hear about their consequences. Speaking personally, I avoid watching videos and reading news about the long term effects of global warming and other environmental issues because they scare me. But that fear is important. We have to take the energy from that fear and turn it into action and spread the word. Because truthfully, we are not paying attention and that is the main issue. If I didn’t have to watch this video for a class assignment, chances are, I wouldn’t have. But I am so glad I did because the things that Lenz is trying to tell us are vital for the preservation of our planet. Our job is to listen…so why is that so hard to do?