Sunday 18 April 2010

Dirty Oil - the film

This is an eye opening and sobering film about the development of tar sands for oil extraction in Alberta, Canada.

Many US citizens are probably not aware that this is a major source of fuel for the USA. Most people are probably not aware of just how damaging tar sands development is for the environment and for people living in that environment.

This film introduces us to native aboriginal communities living near the tar sands, communities that have over ages developed a way of life in tune with their local environment of forest and lakes who now find themselves without clean drinking water and facing excessive incidences of cancers. We see the devastation the mining causes to the environment, vast areas of boreal forest being removed leaving desolate landscapes. The oil companies involved have only replanted a small proportion of the damaged land and then with plantation species rather than with natural forest communities.

Towards the end of the film there is some hope, the medical doctor who was sued for causing undue alarm by discussing the cancers in the area is cleared of most charges against him and the Alberta Government accepts that there are more cancers in the area due to the tar sands. BP agrees after huge public outcry and campaigning not to pump more pollution into Lake Michigan (the location of the refineries that use the tar sands oil).

There is also a summary of alternatives to our dependence on oil, though it is a real oversight that the film doesn't touch on reducing levels of consumption of oil and oil products (it does cover efficiency well though as well as renewables, though its attitude to large scale industrial windfarms seems a little too unquestioning given the issues around such developments). These issues aside though, in terms of dealing with the issues around tar sand development, it is a vital film to watch.

If you want to find out more about the issues or find out when the film is showing in a cinema near you (UK only) visit the Toxic Fuels website.


P. M. Doolan said...

Thanks for this suggestion. I'll check out the film.

I also recommend viewing "Crude: The Real Price of Oil", about Chevron deliberate abuse of tribal people in Ecuador and the detruction of their habitat.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks PM Doolan, i had intended to see Crude, but couldn't make it, it does sound like essential viewing for anyone interested in the issues.

Kay said...

sometimes I feel hopeless in the face of the consumer and corporate machine chewing up our poor little blue planet

Glenna said...

Oh, dear. It's a very upsetting thing, isn't it? I always wish there were more I could do--I take public transportation, which is something, but I know it isn't enough.

I loved the earlier photos of the rhodies!

RG said...

Don't despair - keep pressing and educating and talking and writing letters! Earth Day 1 was 40 years ago. We have come a long way!!!

Owl Who Laughs said...

Thanks for this!! I will use this film in some way and some form in my environmental ethics class. VERY HELPFUL.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, it seems that things can only about to get "environmentally worse"!!! Here in BC the government is about to go ahead with a new "Site C" dam project that, most interesting, will create 50% of the power needed to extract natural gas at a site nearby; natural gas that will then be piped over to Alberta TO HELP WITH OIL EXTRACTION IN THE TAR SANDS. I can only hope enough people fight this, I am so sad to say.

Here is a link to the grassroots Western Wilderness Committee page: