Tar Sands: Canada’s Mordor
Mordor is the realm of the evil Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien describes it as “a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.” If you look at Canada’s Alberta tar sands you might imagine it’s something like Mordor. The gigantic effort to extract oil has turned the province into a hydrocarbon kingdom. And it may be one of the most environmentally destructive projects on earth. Tar sands burn more carbon than conventional oil; destroy forests; kill wildlife; poison the water supply and communities downstream; drain the Athabasca, the river that feeds Canada’s largest watershed, and contribute to climate change. The Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to refineries in the U.S. has been put on hold because of protests but it is likely to resurface. Interview by David Barsamian.
Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Canadian journalist. His articles appear in major newspapers and magazines. He is the author of Saboteurs and Empire of the Beetle. His book Tar Sands was honored with the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award.