Crude Awakening: Tar Sands in Alberta Ignite Debate

Scientists say the boreal forest in Alberta, Canada is one of the world’s most important. It’s home to hundreds of bird and animal species—including more than a few that are endangered—and soaks up carbon twice as efficiently as tropical rainforests.
On top of that, just under the surface lies a mostly untapped supply of bitumen, what freelance writer Barry Yeoman describes in the March-April 2010 article “Crude Awakening” as “a gooey hydrocarbon product that can be industrially ‘upgraded’ into synthetic crude oil.” To some in the U.S. who want to wean off of oil from the Middle East, Canada’s supply seems like a blessing, a North American solution to what many consider the biggest challenge of our day.
But environmentalists jump in, pointing out the strong possibility that this energy source isn’t worth the havoc it will wreak on the boreal. In the Mar-Apr issue, Yeoman describes in great detail this oil-vs-nature battle. Plus, what you can do to help.

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