Sometimes it takes a documentary like this for Canadians to realize that we are not the good citizens of the world that we like to think we are. When it comes to being 'green' Canada doesn't do as well as it should. That statement is even oversimplifying the issue as for our population size we are one of the worst offenders. A big black stain on our efforts toward reducing out greenhouse gas emissions is the tar sands oil in northern Alberta.
Up in northern Alberta a native community living in Fort Chipewyan has been asking the federal and Alberta government to test the waters of the Athabasca as they have doubts that the effects of removing the oil from the tar sands are within acceptable levels. For several years now this community has been affected with an abnormal amount of cancers related to this type of activity plus fish have been caught in the Athabasca with large, odd shaped tumours. Unfortunately for them (and us) so far neither government has done much about it. The whole thing reeks of a government cover up.
The people of Fort Chipewyan have initiated the battle against what is one of the most destructive projects happening on the earth right now. Unfortunately they are waging battle against the huge oil company Shell who are making a huge profit off this destructive project. The province of Alberta and Canada is also benefiting, so they are willing to turn a blind eye on the environmental and human costs involved.
Due to this controversial project, dubbed the Dirty Oil Project, Canada is now the largest supplier of oil to the United States. Our oil is now going towards supporting their war in Iraq. Is that how we want our resources used? Especially since it seems like we are keeping none of this oil for ourselves. How much sense does that make?
The Alberta Tar Sands is the largest deposit of oil outside of Saudi Arabia and represents a potential multi-billion dollar source of income. The bad thing is that the process required to get the oil out of the tarry soil is so toxic that it taints everything around it. It also takes about four barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil, so we are quickly depleting our already low reserves of fresh water. The by-product from this product is just dumped afterwards in ponds that proceed to leak into the ground and nearby Athabasca River. The river then flows north up to the Fort Chipewyan community.
The documentary and its subject seem so unbelievable that you almost think at points that this is a science fiction film rather than reality unfolding before your eyes. The solution seems so clear and simple that you will not believe that this project, despite all the evidence against it and environmental damage it is doing, continues on as you read this. Boreal forests are being destroyed, native communities are being afflicted in record numbers with rare cancers and glacial waters are being depleted. All in the name of profit and greed. Our reliance on oil is going to be our downfall unless a large enough number of people stand up against it. A film like this is really a call to action.