The Reality of the Tar Sands with Tzeporah Berman.

Photo by howlmontreal | flickr.com

Photo by howlmontreal | flickr.com

At Beyond Green, I attended a workshop by Tzeporah Berman in conjunction with the Tar Sands Solution Network. The workshop focused on the reality of the Alberta tar sands - petro-state politics and environmental degradation. Berman’s encouragement to resist tar sand production resonated with many of the attendees and provided inspiration for future action. This article focuses on the importance of civil engagement and highlights some eye-opening facts about the tar sands.

To foster engagement, Berman provided some shocking facts on the tar sands. Here's some of them:

  • Tar sands production emits more greenhouse gases than producing conventional crude oil, making it one of the dirtiest forms of fuel in the world. It emits more greenhouse gas per capita than either the United States or China, and as a result, Canada has become one of the largest contributors to global climate change.
  • The tar sands is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas in Canada and is the reason our country is unable to reach its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
  • To make matters worse, the government and oil industry plan to drastically expand tar sand production. As a result, the oil industry will double its emissions again this decade, from 48 million tonnes in 2010 to 104 million in 2020.
  • Alberta has already approved enough tar sands projects to produce pollution that exceeds the combined emissions of 150 nations. If we do not put a stop to the expansion Canada will be a major reason the world warms six degrees Celsius, or in other words, reaches “climate catastrophe.”
  • For Canada to meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, the oil and gas industry need to reduce emissions by 42% by 2020. To achieve this, there must be a significant cut back in tar sand expansion and/or putting a price on carbon emissions.
  • We can influence these necessary changes by participating in anti-tar sand protests, speaking with our members of Parliament, and spreading the message to other Canadians. This responsibility may seem daunting; however, if we don’t contribute to our future now, we will have to live with the consequences.

Berman emphasized that being engaged citizens is an essential part of the fight against the tar sands. Part of our democratic duty involves voicing our opinion and having our input considered by decision-makers. In the next few months, there will significant debate and decisions made about tar sands pipelines that could lead to the “tipping point” of environmental degradation. The result of these decisions could result in permanent damage and a drastic impact on our communities. We do have a say in what happens in our country and we need to stand up for the environment, for our health, and for our future.

On November 16th, thousands of Canadians will come together in their communities to create a united wall of opposition to pipelines, tar sands expansion, and reckless non-action. The nation-wide protest will take place in various cities around the country - possibly even yours! We encourage you to call your Member of Parliament, attend a rally, and spread your enthusiasm for a clean Canada! You can check out DefendOurClimate.ca for more information on this campaign.

To learn more about the tar sands and the impact it has on the world’s climate situation check out http://tarsandssolutions.org and http://oilsandsrealitycheck.org.