I learned a lot from watching the Ted Talk (“The True Cost of Oil”) by Garth Lenz. I was unaware of how significant the wetlands across Canada’s boreal forest are to our environment as they clean air and water, isolate greenhouse gases, and provide a home for several different species.
However, I was surprised to learn about the Alberta tar sands, one of the largest existing oil reserves. The Alberta tar sands are huge reserves of tar located beneath the boreal forest and wetlands. Lenz explained how the mining of the Alberta tar sands is detrimental to the wetlands as well as the rest of the planet. For example, the tar sands use more water than any other oil extraction method. I’m shocked to know that the oil extraction process includes polluting 3-5 barrels of water, which are then returned to tailings ponds (which contain several different harmful chemicals). Purposely polluting water is outrageous because there are people who do not have access to safe drinking water to begin with.
Furthermore, the tailings ponds are located on the banks of the Athabasca River, which drains to a number of communities. People are finding toxins in their food, which is resulting in an increase in cancer rates in certain parts of Canada. Lenz spoke about how he met a man who instructed him not to eat the fish because it is carcinogenic. However, the same man had 4 fish on his porch because he had nothing else to feed his family. The oil extraction process is extremely selfish. What do the people responsible have to say when they hear about how the only food that communities have to eat contains toxins? There needs to be a safer and/or more environmentally friendly method for oil extraction as it is harming species of all kinds.