Must-See Video On The True Cost of Tar Sands

What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat.

This powerful talk is for anyone who thinks the tar sands are just another source of oil — and that the only source of greenhouse gases from the tar sands come from burning gas and oil:

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15 Responses to Must-See Video On The True Cost of Tar Sands

  1. many thanks for posting this–this is a truly remarkable glimpse into the reality of what for many of us has become a political abstraction, a test of the president, etc etc.

    man is it ugly!

  2. Two comments:
    1. This should be required viewing for all journalists who are assigned to do a story.
    2. While this is a visual reminder of how bad the process is and how misleading the advertisements are, the real ecological damage will occur after the gunk is refined.

  3. Barry Saxifrage says:

    James Hansen estimates that unchecked tar sands extraction could eventually release as much climate pollution as all the coal ever burned by humanity so far.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Great presentation.

    The boreal has been under assault even without the tar sands, from clearcut logging and global warming related dieoffs. Tree mortality in Canada has been increasing 4.7% a year from 1963 to 2008, a huge number:

    This doesn’t even count trees killed from logging or cleared for development.

    I spent several months in the Canadian boreal in 1975, a magical place, and it should be experienced in person. Size is no defense, since the US was once 65% forested, and now about 5% of our native forests remain.

    Politicians like Alberta premier Redford deserve to be pilloried, but the US media is the biggest culprit, since we’re the buyers. After the full corporate takeover of 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl did a puff piece on the Tar Sands, talking about its impressive technology, big salaries for grateful workers, and replanting (?!?) of devastated landscapes. This episode should teach us that we need new media companies.

    I also don’t believe that Americans would willingly trade the destruction of central Alberta for slightly cheaper gas (even though that’s a very weak correlation). We’re better than that, and will show it if people knew what was actually going on.

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Discovery Channel’s Planet Green now runs programs like “Alaska Oilmen: Gamble on Ice”, similar to other shows about brave loggers and oil company truck drivers. These are infomercials for extractive and polluting industries, and truly green programs are now off limits on the channel, scheduled to be retired.

    John Hendricks, Discovery Channel founder, is a U of Alabama Huntsville grad. He must hang around with Cristy and Spencer, besides watching his oil company portfolio. This is really sick.

    The American people are being kept in the dark. We must figure out a way to awaken them.

  6. Zach says:

    This entire tar sands project is an absolute disgrace. I cannot think of any other human endeavor that is so ludicrously destructive to the environment.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    After this video proceed here..

    Tar Sands Oil Extraction – The Dirty Truth

  8. Palli Davis Holubar says:


    This is from a press release for a Call to Action for people of the Lakota Nation to come to Wanblee, SD, on the border of the Pine Tree Reservation “to join the Lakota Oyate, OST Police and State Troopers in an effort to block [the pipeline trucks] from entering our reservation. Even the state troopers told them the trucksthey have to turn around and cannot bring their …pipeline or other materials on to our reservation. The XL pipeline trucks are refusing to turn around claiming they have corporate rights that supercedes any other laws. Olowan Sara Martinez, Debra White Plume, Grandmother Marie Randall and others are holding their ground.”

    The Lakota nation standing at the edge of the great LAND OCCUPY!

    … wonder how the rest of us can help?

    A commenter on tells us that the XL frucks are trying to avoid thousands of dollars of excess weight roadway charges by invading reservation lands.

  9. ashtanga says:

    This video is spectacular, I will be sharing it as widely as I can. I grew up in Calgary, a city drenched in oil money, and I am now trying to start a career as a climate change activist. Tomorrow I am going to be talking to 200 high school students about the tar sands, and I will be touching on a lot of these points. I only hope that I can speak as eloquently and passionately as Mr. Lenz.

  10. dan allen says:

    good God…this machine must be dismantled

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As long as the Evil Ones, the big capitalist pathocrats, control the money power, there is no hope. It is, demonstrably, already too late to avert an ecological catastrophe this century with 90% odd mortality of humanity. They simply relentlessly brainwash the Dunning-Krugerites, using their near total dominance of the MSM, to believe that EVERY ecological crisis is an alarmist lie peddled by Communists, and their brain-dead followers lap it up. Visit any blog, say The Guardian’s Comment is Free, peruse the moronic inferno of the Rightwing commenters and weep for our species. The combination of stupidity, ignorance, arrogance, paranoia and viciousness is a recipe for disaster. What is worse, when this crowd finally realise that they have been had, they are going to be very, very, angry.

  12. Justin says:

    If a tanker crashes filled with bitumen, clean up will be next to impossible. There’s a reason why tar sands are so carbon intensive: it’s hard to get the oil and toxins separated from the sand. In its bitumen form, it’s a thick gunk; a sludge that would be so far beyond any environmental clean up that has ever happened.

    A very moving, visceral talk. I would have liked to see him split the talk with someone in the scientific community, but still great.

  13. colinc says:

    Purer perspicacity has not been writ! The believers cannot be shaken from their somnambulism, thus 6.9 billion people leave the planet much, much sooner than they can imagine. Yet, they will probably be the “lucky” ones. Mushrooms appear to be the new “AmeriCON Dream.”

  14. Luther E. Franklin says:

    This Disaster already in action is second only to the disaster of our exponential increase in the human population.

    BUT the low information majority of people who could do something….ain’t goin’ to do a damn thing but watch TV and drive SUV’s.