3 thoughts on “Tar Sands Coming to America”

  1. The peak oil folks say that tar sands mining is one of the sure signs that the fossil fuel economy is moving into decline. Whether they’re crazy or not, I tend to agree. Living in a state where 500 square miles of mountains had been leveled illegally in the search of coal ten years ago, and the rate of mining has increased since, I hate to think about the frenzy of destruction that is coming.

    1. I don’t know what “moving into decline” means exactly. Into a regime of lower EROI? Sure. Into an era of somewhat higher prices? Okay. But the so-called unconventional resources are there, they’re extremely plentiful, and we seem to think they’re worth digging out of the ground. It’s part of the Burn It All plan, which we are apparently deeply committed to. I wish we’d be forced to stop by lack of combustibles, but I think the truth is we’ve got more than enough to profoundly transform the atmosphere before we need to figure out another plan.

  2. By “moving into decline” I mean that conventional sources can’t meet near-future demand, so energy companies are exploiting more and more unconventional fossil fuel reservoirs to provide slightly less energy than the world is hungry for. I think you’re right that there are enough unconventional sources in the ground for us to continue to profoundly impact the atmosphere for decades to come, but they will be increasingly difficult to extract. So there will be massive and increasing damage to the surface of the lithosphere — the part with plants and soil — as energy prices ramp up and more marginal reserves become profitable. Meanwhile, it’s getting hotter, the arable regions on the ground are shifting, massive amounts of soil are being destroyed by petrochemical agriculture, and corporations are making the wrong calls in terms of save-arable-land vs. extract fossil fuels. Frenzy of destruction.

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