A month after over 865,200 gallons of oil spilled from Tesoro Logistics’ 6-inch pipeline near Tioga, North Dakota, the cause of the leak is still largely unknown to anyone but Tesoro. The pipeline resumed operations today. Carrying oil obtained via…
Autism is a cause of growing concern in the scientific community, with more and more children seemingly diagnosed with one of the many mental disabilities that fall under the autism label. While researchers have linked autism with obvious culprits like industrial food processing, a new study suggests a strong link between high amounts of traffic pollution and children born with autism.
The study, headed by Dr. Heather E. Volk of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, showed that pregnant women exposed to high levels of traffic pollution were twice as likely to give birth to a child with a developmental disorder. Young children exposed to high levels of traffic pollution were also three times as likely to develop autism.
While the researchers are quick to point out this isn’t conclusive evidence, it backs up previous findings by other researchers. The emissions coming out of the tailpipes of automobiles are indeed quite deadly. If anyone suggests otherwise, I tell them to stick their mouth over a tailpipe of a running car for five minutes.
This is just one more argument for a move away from a fossil fuel-based economy. We will all be better off when automobiles run cleaner, allowing everyone to breathe a little easier.
Canada’s internationally condemned tar sand oil extraction is one of the most environmentally damaging operations on Earth. We’ve covered that before, of course, and even noted some Canadians’ resentment of emerging technologies (like electric cars) that might reduce consumer demand for Canadian oil in North America and, therefor, reduce their income. That realization, that there are people out there willing to work against technologies that could improve the quality of life of their children and children’s children in exchange for a bigger TV and a flashier pickup, was pretty disappointing.
A few weeks ago, however, a Reddit user claiming to work for a tar sand oil extraction company says he quit his job over moral objections to the destruction his work was causing. He even posted the following video, below, to illustrate the point.
This video is over a year old, but none of the facts presented therein have changed. The tar sands are still an environmental disaster of epic proportions, but the oil industry and the conservative political establishment are working to push regulation (like the controversial but under-publicized Yukon XL pipeline) that will allow companies to squeeze even more oil out of the tar. This looter cash-grab is resulting in the wholesale destruction of Canada’s Boreal forests, which represent the last and largest swaths of pristine forest in the western hemisphere.
Because of the oil companies’ resistance towards outside regulation and monitoring, it’s still unclear how much damage tar sand oil extraction is doing to the public health, and officials and investigators can’t yet be sure of how much toxic waste is leeching out of the slurry pits and contaminating nearby waterways.
It’s a bad scene, in other words – one that’s been called a “carbon bomb” by one of the nation’s top climate scientists, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, who adds that continuing extraction of oil from the region would be “game over for the climate”.
Back to our new favorite person: Quitty McQuitterton. Under a post entitled “I just quit my [very well paying] job in Northern Alberta, Canada because I didn’t want to be a part of this: (video)”, Quitty (Reddit user Johnnypondwater) added some commentary. He wrote that “My job is probably already filled. The oil sands will probably continue to expand and be extracted for the next 30+ years. It is that sort of ignorant ‘oh well it’s going to happen anyway’ attitude that is sending the environmental state in a downward spiral. Me quitting my job was a personal/moral decision I made because I didn’t want to be a part of the wide destruction and contamination of the environment in that area. But hey, maybe I’m just naive. People need to think differently I reckon.”
Indeed they do, Johhny. Indeed they do.
For what it’s worth, the community at Reddit rallied to support the user’s decision when the original post came up (on Valentine’s Day), applauding him for making the right call. I think everyone here at Important Media is 100% behind Johnny, as well.
What about you, dear readers? Are you behind Johnny, or are you applying for his job? Let us know, in the comments.
Source: Reddit, via Treehugger
Alberta’s tar sands have been called “the dirtiest oil in the world” by Greenpeace and National Geographic, and “mining” these fields means high carbon emissions and serious pollution of natural water supplies. So why are Canadians afraid of electric vehicles?
Canada’s own government agents claim that the area’s boreal forests “could be gone within a generation.” Canadians in Alberta, of course, are very interested in the progress of EVs, battery technology, and alternative fuels programs …
… they’re interested, because they’re scared to death of them.
“The entire country has evolved into a petro-dollar economy,” says Canadian news source CTV News. “Canada’s fortunes – and its currency – are now more closely tethered to oil than any other industry.” So, while the rest of the world looks to EVs and new technology to safeguard resources and global environmental health, Canadian newspapers like the St. Albert Gazette worry that EVs “could put some Albertans out of work.”
Think this is a short-term problem for Canada’s environment? Think again. CTV reports that “economic power is shifting, and the trend will continue and gather momentum as oil sands production increases over the next couple of decades.”
That’s right, people. Canada is pushing for increased oil output over the next. Few. DECADES. (!?) Kind of makes your Monday morning, doesn’t it?
It’s not like the Canadian government isn’t aware of the environmental impact of the tar sand oil extraction, either. Preston McEachern, who works for Alberta Environment (a government agency in the province) says that (beyond the greenhouse emissions) the tailings ponds are his top concern. According to McEachern, the mines dump wastewater in the ponds “because they need to reuse the water. As the thick, brown slurry gushes from the discharge pipes, the sand quickly settles out, building the dike that retains the pond; the residual bitumen floats to the top. The fine clay and silt particles, though, take several years to settle, and when they do, they produce a yogurt-like goop—the technical term is ‘mature fine tailings’—that is contaminated with toxic chemicals such as naphthenic acid and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and would take centuries to dry out on its own.” (from National Geographic)
Defenders of the oil-recovery effort are quick to point out that, under the terms of their license, mining companies are required to reclaim these chemicals. However, these companies have been missing their deadlines and still have not fully reclaimed a single pond.
Are you horrified yet?
Even decidedly pro-big-block blogs like The Truth About Cars are pointing out the seemingly backwards stance the Canadian government is taking on the matter, reporting that, as Canadians are “reading the papers about the success of EVs, Albertans are worried about a bust cycle. People did what people do when they don’t know what to do: They assembled a panel of experts. The panel will first meet next Tuesday in Edmonton.”
The proceedings of the panel’s meetings will be available at www.abctech.ca, and I (for one) hope someone organizes an EV / alt-fuel rally to meet these guys at the gates.
Sources: National Geographic, CTV, TTAC, etc. (links, above).
Photos: National Geographic (full, maddening photo gallery AVAILABLE HERE).