The Catholic bishop whose diocese extends over the tar sands has posted a scathing pastoral letter, “The Integrity of Creation and the Athabasca Oil Sands.”
The letter by Bishop Luc Bouchard concludes, “even great financial gain does not justify serious harm to the environment,” and “the present pace and scale of development in the Athabasca oil sands cannot be morally justified.” Equally powerful is who the letter is addressed to:
The critical points made in this letter are not directed to the working people of Fort McMurray but to oil company executives in Calgary and Houston, to government leaders in Edmonton and Ottawa, and to the general public whose excessive consumerist lifestyle drives the demand for oil.
We have met the enemy and he is us!
Other than sticking with the euphemism “oil sands” (see “Canada tries to tar-sandbag Obama on climate” the remarkably detailed and heavily footnoted letter is a brilliant piece of work dissecting what has been called the “biggest global warming crime ever seen.”
Bishop Bouchard notes that “The environmental liabilities that result from the various steps in this process are significant and include”:
- Destruction of the boreal forest eco-system
- Potential damage to the Athabasca water shed
- The release of greenhouse gases
- Heavy consumption of natural gas
- The creation of toxic tailings ponds
He writes at length on all five, and concludes
Any one of the above destructive effects provokes moral concern, but it is when the damaging effects are all added together that the moral legitimacy of oil sands production is challenged.
Here is what he says specifically about greenhouse gases: