Tagged: Alberta Tar Sands

Cherry Ferguson Award: Melissa Blake

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[Editor’s Note: In a scrum with reporters late in his fourth, scandal-plagued term as Premier of Nova Scotia, John Buchanan famously defended one Cherry Ferguson, a favoured civil servant who’d been discovered to be holding down three senior provincial government jobs. His exact words are lost to history, but they ran along these lines: “She doesn’t have three jobs. She’s Deputy Clerk of the House, Chief Electoral Officer, and a lawyer for the Workers’ Compensation Board. That’s not three jobs.” To honour this great moment in political communication, Contrarian  from time to time presents the Cherry Ferguson Award to an official who can stare an obvious but unpleasant truth in the face, in broad daylight, where all the world can see it, and declare it not to be there.]

Today’s award goes to Melissa Blake, Mayor of the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality, who voiced pique at singer Neil Young’s declaration that Fort McMurray is “a wasteland” that “looks like Hiroshima.”

When people say it’s a wasteland, it really and truly isn’t. When it comes to the community of Fort McMurray, you’re overwhelmed, frankly, by the beauty of it. You’ve got an incredible boreal environment that’s all around you. You proceed further north into the oil sands and inevitably, there’s mining operations that will draw your attention because they take up large chunks of land.

Fort Mac is part of Mayor Blake’s Wood Buffalo municipality. Feast yours eyes on the beauty of its surroundings.

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Tar Pit #3

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And finally, the trailer for Petropolis, a Greenpeace advocacy doc on the Tar Sands:

[Video link]

Canada “is to climate what Japan is to whaling”

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The rhetoric is over the top, but the facts are only somewhat overstated in a UK Guardian column that foreshadows complaints Canadians can expect hear as the Copenhagen climate change summit approaches:

After giving the finger to Kyoto, Canada then set out to prevent the other nations striking a successor agreement. At the end of 2007, it singlehandedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialised nations. After the climate talks in Poland in December 2008, it won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country that had done most to disrupt the talks. The climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the world’s 60 richest nations, was published in the same month. Saudi Arabia came 60th. Canada came 59th.

In June this year the media obtained Canadian briefing documents which showed the government was scheming to divide the Europeans. During the meeting in Bangkok in October, almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking, as they were so revolted by his bullying. Last week the Commonwealth heads of government battled for hours (and eventually won) against Canada’s obstructions. A concerted campaign has now begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth.

In Copenhagen next week, this country will do everything in its power to wreck the talks. The rest of the world must do everything in its power to stop it. But such is the fragile nature of climate agreements that one rich nation – especially a member of the G8, the Commonwealth and the Kyoto group of industrialised countries – could scupper the treaty. Canada now threatens the wellbeing of the world.

Hat tip: John Hugh Edwards

Burtynsky’s Tar Sands images hit DC on the eve of Copenhagen

“Oil,” a major exhibition by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, is currently on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. in Washington, DC. The exhibit includes horrific photos of the Alberta Tar Sands:

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[Click images for larger view – links fixed.]

Burtynsky specializes in sweeping, often eerily beautiful views of landscapes altered by industry: mine tailings, quarries, scrap piles. James Fallows, of the Atlantic, which features another of Burtynsky’s images this month, writes:

The impact of the exhibit as a whole is, well, hard to convey in words…. [V]ery few people have seen the range of oil-industry artifacts that he has captured in his wall-sized and incredibly-detailed photos. Extraction and refinery operations around the world; the industries oil has made possible; the indications of the end of the oil era. Hard to forget.

The exhibit moves next to The Rooms Art Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where it will be on display from May 7–August 15, 2010. It will continue to travel through 2012.

More photos and a video after the jump.

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