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Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, Revised and Updated Edition Paperback – July 29, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Andrew Nikiforuk paints an alarming picture ... As oil reserves dwindle worldwide, this book sheds frightening new light on the future of energy"— Society of Environmental Journalists

"Nikiforuk lands a knockout blow on the kissers of the oil industry, oil-friendly bureaucrats, and petrol-guzzling North Americans"— Sustainablog

"Required reading for the President in preparation for his first foreign trip"— Huffington Post
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Greystone Books; Revised Edition edition (July 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553655559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553655558
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,315,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A thorough examination of the consequences of the tar sands project in Alberta. The author looks at this situation from a number of angles, including the project's water and methane usage, the wasting of the Athabascan watershed and millions of acres of boreal forest, the ruinous air quality in the area where the bitumen is refined, the devastation of community and economy in the area surrounding Fort McMurray, the contribution dirty oil makes to climate change, the possibility of nuclear reactors being used simply to help power the project, the failure of the project to benefit the citizens of Alberta, the redirection of the oil itself to the United States, and the growing "Saudi Arabization" of Canada and particularly of Alberta.

My biggest complaint with the book is that the author all but ignored making any consideration for the Dene people, whose ancestral land is being turned into a moonscape in the name of "energy security". I also disliked the author's nonsensical belief that driving less is an effective means of helping to halt the tar sands project. As a non-driver, I do not believe this. I can understand a corporation using the "It's up to individual consumers to change things" remedy to social and environmental ills, but it's depressing to hear it come from the social and environmental activists themselves.
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Format: Paperback
This book is in the tradition of the muckrakers of a century ago. Other reviewers are correct: this book is biased, and the author has a strong opinion about the USA. None of that negates the accuracy of most of his information. The most basic fact is that in the vast Canadian tar sands there's hundreds of billions, possibly trillions of dollars to be made, and a related smaller fact is that Alberta's government is closely allied with the producers. There can be no doubt that some of the environmental impact is highly negative.

Readers doubtful that there is a problem should Google "tar sands" and read about the process and product. There is a lot of oil and also a lot of pollution resulting. How significant that will be is a matter of interpretation. I agree with the author that it could be catastrophic.

The oil in tar sands is free from the complications of Middle Eastern politics, in a friendly and close-by country. Canada stands to make a great deal of money, so the usual Canadian concern for environment is going to vanish.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nikiforuk writes an excellent background book of the disaster that is the so-called tar sands debacle in Alberta Canada. These tar sands had been known for centuries, early Indigenous travelers used this tar like material to repair their canoes. Then the right wing neoliberal crowd takes over Ottawa, alters laws left and right, force a gag rule on Canadian scientists [just as the Soviet Union used to last Century], and Canada, per capita, has the highest or nearly the highest carbon footprint of any country in the world. The Prime Minister with his Big Oil pals dreams of Canada becoming another Petro-State, maybe along the lines of Saudi Arabia - public beheadings next, I assume? At least any Canadian can learn of the duplicity and outright lies their Federal government. and that's a start.
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Format: Paperback
I am drawn to write a review of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent after reading the negative reviews of Nikiforuk's book. He does like to paint a vivid picture, and sometimes lapses into hyperbole, but the wealth of information in here is comprehensive and well-sourced in an extensive bibliography. This book covers the history, culture, production, corruption, social impacts, and ecological devastations of the Tar Sands oil extraction in Alberta, Canada. The author also provides his own predictions (as terrible as that may seem), and offers a set of common sense solutions. The corruption of local and national political forces by big oil conglomerates, however, makes any of the solutions presented difficult to imagine really occurring.

This book gives necessary background on an important and colossal, yet somewhat hidden from Americans, ecological rape happening to the North American continent. My only criticism is that I wish he had included more perspectives from First Nation people such as the Athabascan nation. This is a book to read, and then get angry over, and then move to become active in promoting environmental justice and sanity over the extreme greed of the oil industries.
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Excellent book, clearly written and full of facts. If you haven't been following this issue, you will be jarred by what he has written. It is worth noting that this is not just Canada's problem. The United States has substantial quantities of bitumen in Utah and smaller deposits in southern Appalachia. And energy companies are starting to go after it. Anyone who has decided that Peak Oil was another case of ill informed alarmists crying wolf, should read "Tar Sands" and ask "Why would anyone go after this garbage if there were still abundant reserves of conventional oil?" When you get done with this one, read "Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future" by Richard Heinberg. When the fracking "miracle" wears itself out in a few years, North America, having ignored conservation and done little to develop alternative energy sources, will find itself relying on dirty, expensive, thirsty tar sands and oil shale, burning up the rest of our natural gas in the process of turning this gunk into gasoline. So much for the new Saudi Arabia!
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