Canada’s Tailings Ponds

What was once boreal forest and fresh water is now one of Canada’s tailings ponds. These tailings ‘ponds’ are so large, they can be seen from space.

Canada's tailings ponds
© Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon

Q: What the heck is a tailings pond?
A: It’s the toxic wastewater, chemicals, sand and clay that’s left over after separating heavy crude oil (bitumen) from the soil in what are commonly referred to as Canada’s tar sands.

Wikipedia: "Tailings, also called mine dumps, slimes, tails, refuse, leach residue, or slickens,[1] are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction (gangue) of an ore."

I recently viewed a film titled Petropolis and was shocked by how little I knew about the actual size of this industrial misadventure. I had clearly been sucked in by the oil companies’ environmentally-concerned TV ads. I suspect it has required a massive public relations budget to keep the full scope of this pillage out of the news.

Have you watched or read ‘The Lord of the Rings’? Do you remember when Saruman the White ordered the destruction of the forests? Even the words of J. R. R. Tolkien and the images of Peter Jackson would have a very difficult time portraying the devastation clearly shown in Petropolis.

A few things that just don’t make sense to me:

  • it requires about three barrels of water to produce every barrel of bitumen, that’s apparently enough water to service a city with a population of two million
  • the tar sands daily consumption of natural gas is enough to heat four million homes
  • carbon dioxide emissions equal the total emissions of every car in Canada
  • we’re getting rid of trees that reduce pollution to produce oil that increases pollution

Q: Who is profiting from this devastation of Canada’s environment?
A: The oil and gas companies. According to The Toronto Sun 20120409 (VINCENT MCDERMOTT, QMI AGENCY), “In the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute study, completed in mid-March (2012), the Edmonton-based think-tank concluded the oil and gas industry has raked in $260-billion in pre-tax profits since 1986, while the public received less than $25-billion — less than 6% of the total value.”

The oil companies would have us believe that the Canadian tar sands are a wonderful resource, after all it’s the second largest oil reserve in the world. I’m not so sure because there are clearly enormous environmental costs to this type of industrialization. When oil prices were lower, the tar sands had potential, but it was simply to expensive to separate the heavy crude from the sand and the clay. Today, high oil prices have made heavy crude oil extraction economically feasible, but it doesn’t appear to me that technology has progressed to the point where oil can be produced in an environmentally friendly manner. That plus, what about the environmental impact of the required, very controversial, pipelines.

Aren’t we trying to move away from carbon-based fuels? Wouldn’t it be far less expensive and far more friendly to our environment to build solar farms and wind farms? What about solar panels on every home and garage? There must be a clever way to use the tar sands, on a small scale, to help us fund Canada’s transition to green technologies.

Update (20120530): Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, referring to Canada’s tailing’s ponds stated, “…you’ll be able to drink from them and you’re gonna be able to fish from them…”. He was interviewed on CBC’s Power and Politics by Evan Solomon. My question to Mr. Oliver is, “When?” Perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years from now that may be possible. I suspect Mr. Oliver will issue a correction in the near future, because, bluntly, if he believes what he said, he’s been drinking far too much of Big Oil’s Kool Aid.

Canada’s Environmental Irresponsibility

I’m embarrassed by Canada’s environmental irresponsibility and specifically by Canada’s current conservative governance. The most recent embarrassment is Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol; making Canada the first country in the world to abandon this historic, international, environmental treaty on climate change.

Abandoning Kyoto was irresponsible. It’s also humiliating, Canada is better than this.

Fact: Over sixty percent of Canadian voters, who cast ballots in the last federal election, did not vote for the Conservative Party, the political party that just humiliated most Canadians.

Q: How could the Harper Government back out of a treaty that Canada ratified years ago? Where was the debate? Why wasn’t this momentous decision brought to a vote?

Some time ago, I laughed in agreement when Brian Topp wrote, "Unfortunately, the angry old uncles are now in charge of the government of Canada…" If I could edit that article for The Globe and Mail, today, I’d add a couple of words, "Unfortunately, the angry, arrogant, greedy, irresponsible, old uncles are now in charge of the government of Canada."

"Unfortunately, the angry old uncles are now in charge
of the government of Canada"

Q: What can we do?
A: Make sure that your voice is heard.

Frustrated Canadians, might want to consider:

  1. electing more women
  2. encouraging the Green Party and the Liberal Party to merge
  3. electing Elizabeth May to lead the ‘New Green Party’.

1883 Twenty-Five Cents Canada

1883 Twenty-Five Cents Canada

I lived in Regina Saskatchewan from 1958 to 1965 (ages 9—16). Home was the RCMP’s Depot Division, we just called it the RCMP Barracks. Depot Division has been training RCMP recruits since 1885. My father was in charge of the Crime Lab, that day’s version of today’s CSI. As a kid I spent many days exploring ‘the pasture’ that was on the outskirts of the barracks. Accompanied by a friend or two and my trusty bow and arrow we whiled away many summer and the occasional winter days. One sunny day, while on a new adventure, I noticed something shiny in the dirt. It was the 1883 quarter pictured above. It was shinier in the 1960s.

I recently rediscovered the 1883 coin in my sock drawer. I don’t imagine it’s worth anything other than the memories its discovery triggered, but to put my quarter in perspective:

In my first post about My Sock Drawer I referenced my unbelievably low 1972 $113/mo mortgage payment. 1972 was a time when the dollar had more value than it does today. The gal/guy who lost this quarter, lost it another 89 years before 1972 when the dollar had an even greater value. I’ve always imagined an RCMP recruit hauling hay for the horses with a hole in his pocket. Imagine how he felt when he reached in his pocket for his 25 cents.

Canadian MLM – Network Marketing in Canada

Stack of Canadian 20s

Are you a network marketer or potential networker who lives in Canada? Are you trying to find a Canadian MLM?

Network marketing in Canada has its challenges. If you’ve been networking for long, you may have experienced some, or perhaps all, of this scenario:

  • you discovered a ground-floor, potential money-maker, but it started in the USA and wasn’t open for business in Canada
  • you set up a US address to get a head-start and made frequent cross-border trips to pickup your orders and cheques
  • when the opportunity finally arrived in Canada, the product was “for personal consumption only, not for retail”
  • the variable currency exchange rate and shipping costs made your product expensive and thus difficult to market
  • hassles with Canada Customs
  • Canada Post handling charges
  • you joined a network marketing company that was already well established in the US, but was pre-launching in Canada only to discover that existing, high-ranking, US distributors were more appealing to your fellow Canadians than you were.

What if instead, you discovered a company that:

  • was only six months old (20100601) and launched in Canada at exactly the same time that it launched in the U.S.
  • had a Canadian office, staffed by Canadians
  • had products that ship directly to you from the Canadian office without going through Customs
  • was very competitive in a trillion-dollar industry
  • had reasonable shipping costs with no charges for orders over $200
  • made it easy for you to do business online
  • offered low startup and low monthly costs
  • featured a remarkable commission structure that removes most, if not all, the roadblocks to your financial success?

Hey, even our President’s wife was born in Alberta.

My name’s Dr. Frank Eves, I live in a gorgeous village on Canada’s west coast. XYNGULAR Canada will allow me to network the world from the comfort of our home. My commute is over when I grab a chilled glass of fresh orange juice from my fridge.

  1. call # ### ###-#### to hear what I heard
  2. >> click here to discover XYNGULAR

Link deactivated

Update 20111103: I’m no longer involved with network marketing.