Media, Pipelines, and Energy Addiction?

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Okay. I’ll admit it. I watch Survivor. I have been addicted since Season 1 and I always dream of being able to play the game if and when they allow Canadians on the show. I guess a Canadian version would be out of the question, given that people could freeze to death. I suspect Canadians would also dominate at the physical portion of the game (Ha!)

In any event, the other night I was watching TV and I noticed the advertisement from the Government of Canada below. It’s an ad for the Canadian Economic Action Plan, an initiative started a few years ago to help Canada cope with the economic collapse of 2008.

A few things in the ad made me stop and think. I started to contemplate how long we could simply keep using natural resources – at what point does it all come to and end and why is the Government not discussing this? Secondly, I thought the Oil Sands were a big part of our natural resource industry. How come I don’t see them in the video? Would the Government purposely leave them out?

I was wondering if folks could help me out. Firstly, could we investigate what the Oil Sands are and what the Keystone XL pipeline is we discussed in class yesterday? What are oil sands and why do they get a bad rep.?

Secondly, if oil in Alberta is a priority, why would it not be included in the ad?

Thirdly, and as we create national energy policies in our mock Parliament, is there a problem with having an economy based solely on natural resource extraction?

Invite a friend from a different school to blog with us. It would be great to get an outside perspective.  I have listed some links below to help us with our investigation. Please add more! It’s very interesting to see how certain websites paint different pictures of the same issue.

Government of Alberta Oil Sands
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
David Suzuki Foundation
What are oil sands?
Canadian Geographic
Green Peace
CBC article related to Albert Premier


12 thoughts on “Media, Pipelines, and Energy Addiction?

  1. Firstly, Oil Sands or Tar Sands are a mix of sand or clay, water and bitumen oil. Oil Sands have a bad reputation because they look so bad, are expensive and are bad for our environment. The Keystone XL pipeline is a pipeline system to transport oil from northeastern Alberta to many different places throughout the United Sates. Secondly, the oil in Alberta is a high priority but is not in this commercial because they are not very nice to look at and are not “attractive” to the public. Thirdly, there are negatives to having an economy based only on natural resource extraction as the resources will eventually run out and we will have to remodel our whole entire economy and what it is based off of.

  2. Oil sands are also known as Bituminous sands. They are potentially sandstones or loose sand with a type of thick petroleum in them. There are many other names for these sands, and one of them happens to be "Scar Sands". It made total sense when I looked up the extraction process of these oil sands. If this isn't damaging, I am not quite sure what is anymore. The extraction of oil sands can be done through strip mining or an in situ technique .Strip mining is atrocious to our environment. Firstly, they would truck down all the trees and bushes before dumping it elsewhere. Secondly , they drill holes on the ground and blow up the place with explosives. Thirdly, they take huge peices of oil sands out of the ruins. They do this again with another area, filling the last pit with the remains from the first pit. This leaves a lot of leftovers around the area. When it precipitates, the mine dirt combined with the area's soil causes the river to overflow and flood the place, polluting the water.They could also pumping the sands with steam, hot air, or solvents to decrease the the thickness of the oil sands.This probably brings up harmful chemicals from underground into the air. Both of these techniques are used, but unfortunately, both of these methods are damaging to the environment.So yes, like Brendan said, the end result isn't a pretty one, and it's not pleasing to the public's eyes, but nor is it to the environment.There is also the transport of oil that we need to watch out for. The key stone XL pipeline (according to Transcanada) stretches from Hardisty, Alberta , to Steele city, Nebraska. It is 1, 897 Km long and is meant to 100, 000 barrels of oil everyday to the USA. That's how much oil we are allowing the USA to access. Alberta is certainly okay with this decision. They are completely dependent on the oil from their oil sands! They rely on the money they make from their oil to fund their resources and pay their debts. Alberta doesn't want the public to see the damage done to their environment (as Brendan stated), because it would cause their customers to rethink their oil usage. Alberta wouldn't be happy if they started losing customers! They've become so dependent on their oil that they would have trouble supporting themselves without it. I strongly agree with Brendan in his statement with oil being an indefinite resource. It's going to run out someday and then what will we do? It's best if we learn to sustain ourselves before it's too late.

  3. According to the Government of Alberta website, under Alberta Energy, it states that “oil sand is a naturally occurring mixture of sand, clay or other minerals, water and bitumen, which is a heavy and extremely viscous oil”. Oil sands can be found in approximately seventy different countries around the world, though large quantities have been been found in Canada. The largest oil sands, the Athabasca oil sands, are located in northeast Alberta. The oil sands, though said to be beneficial for the production of energy and for the economy, have caused a lot of environmentalist concern. There is an increased dependence on oil as a form of energy, used to produce fossil fuels, rather than on alternative forms of energy; this can result in more greenhouse gas emissions and increased levels of global warming, which can cause potential damage to our environment. Alberta’s “tar” sands are currently responsible for producing five percent of all of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as disrupting six hundred kilometers of boreal forest and polluting surrounding water and air. Studies have also been conducted to show that the toxins released from these oil sands have polluted the Athabasca river, causing much harm to the First Nations communities that depend on the river. The Keystone XL pipeline, an addition to the Keystone pipeline, was initiated by TransCanada. This pipeline, which is approximately 2,736 kilometers long, is designed to carry approximately 700, 000 barrels of oil from Alberta to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. According to the CBC News, it states that Alberta Premier, Alison Redford’s “government sees Keystone as a key component in its plan to expand access to foreign markets to boost the price for its oil”. Others, however, have different views on the pipeline and the amount of damage that can potentially cause to the environment. The oil sands in Alberta have not been included in this advertisement, nor in any of the other recent advertisements concerning Canada’s Economic Action Plan. This is because the Canadian government is trying to persuade Canadian taxpayers about the importance of using Canada’s natural resources for economic growth. Last year, Leger Marketing was hired as a part of the government’s proposed advertising campaign. According to the Leger study’s introduction, "the government of Canada's natural resource policies are expected to continue to attract a high degree of public and media attention, particularly in the area of energy development”. As well, Leger’s focus group later reported that “the image of a field being brought back to its original state after exploitation was a strong one, as was the image of a scientist examining a test tube besides a running river. Both images conveyed the impression that efforts were being made to preserve this beauty, a strong source of pride for Canada”. It makes sense that the government would not use images of oil sands from Alberta in advertisements, which could strike a lot of concern from the general public, but would instead use images to reinforce Canada’s natural beauty and reassure Canadians that the government is focusing on helping both the economy and the environment. There could be many problems with an economy based solely on natural resource extraction, depending on the forms of energy that are being used. An economy with such a high dependency on non-renewable natural resources, including oil, cannot be sustainable for very long. Though it may seem that Canada, namely Alberta, is abundant in natural oil sands, these resources will not be sustainable for future generations and will cause damage to the ecosystem, especially Canadian forests, water, and air. Fossil fuels created by oil sands also cause much damage to First Nations communities. I think that alternate forms of energy, such as wind or solar energy, should at least be incorporated in Canada’s energy sector aside from fossil fuels so that Canada is not fully dependent on forms of energy that are not sustainable nor environmentally friendly.

  4. Oil Sands are also known as tar sands and bituminous sands. They are a combination of mostly clay, sand and water but they are partially bitumen. Bitumen is the near solid form of petroleum. Bitumen can be used for many things and is also known as tar. The Government wouldn’t advertise Oil Sands because they aren’t attractive and it doesn’t give Canada the image of being environmentally friendly. Burning all the bitumen left would add 0.36 C to the overall temperature of the Earth (CBC Feb 2013). Although it’s only a fraction of 1 C, it’s a huge amount.The Keystone XL is supposed to be a pipeline system that will transport oil and bitumen from Alberta to various locations in the US.Like my classmates Brendan, Vanessa and Maryam have already stated, the problem with having an economy which relies on only natural resource extraction is that it’s unsustainable and we’ll eventually deplete it. We do not have an unlimited supply of anything. Eventually, all the resources will be gone and there will be nothing left for us to use. It’s like one of my favourite childhood books, The Lorax. If no one cares, nothing will be done!

  5. The reason why the oil sands were not presented in this commercial because they are not “pretty” to Canadians and other viewers from different countries who are not familiar to Canada. The government did purposely leave the oil sands out because they are ugly, are very expensive, and are bad for our environment. Even though they represent a huge part of our industry they decided that it does not best represent Canada instead they show beautiful crops, people working, and a clean safe environment. The Oil Sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit states Wikipedia. It is sand that is mixd with clay, water, and some sort of petroleum. The Keystone XL Pipeline project in a 1,897-km pipeline that runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. It is going to be used to transport synthetic crude oil from the Athabasca oil sands to Alberta, Canada and to multiple locations in the United States. There is a huge problem with having a nation solely based on the extraction of natural resources. What will happen when we run out of natural resources to extract? What kind of pollution will be produced with the creation of the many products that us Canadians purchase? And what will we do to dispose of stuff like plastic when they aren’t useful?Well, when we run out of resources to extract we would simply go to other countries and extract their resources. But when their resources run out the government will corrupt. The economy will fall. Markets will have nothing to sell and consumers will have nothing to consume. This will put thousands of people out of jobs in the market industry.The type of pollution that will be produced in the production stage will be devastating. The pollution will go into our breathing air harming us and the wild life. The pollution will get into our drinking water. Acid rain will be produced harming the environment such as the trees and our buildings and most famous structures will also be destroyed.Lastly we will through away all of our junk into landfills or to the incinerator. The problem with both of these are that they both cause major environmental problems. When we dump a bunch of plastics into the soil, the plastics don’t break down but the unleash a very harmful chemical into the earth harming us, animals, and the plants. The problem with incineration is that all the junk products change state into a harmful smoke state which as I stated before it will cause serious health concerns for humans and animals and will seriously harm the environment.These are the problems with having a nation which is solely based on the extraction of natural resources.

  6. First of all, oil sands are essentially a mix of loose sand, water, clay, and partially bitumen. For this reason they are also known as bituminous sands as well as tar sands. These oil sands get a bad rep for a few reasons. One big thing is that they are very bad for our environment. On top of this, they are very unattractive, and the extraction process is unruly. It gives Canada a much better reputation when its good features are shown, such as a clean environment and people working, rather then the ugly and un-enviromentally friendly part of it. As Vanessa said, Alberta is very dependant on its use of oil. Many people want this oil and are willing to pay big money to get it. If people were to start realizing how awful and un-enviromntally friendly the tar sands really are, they would surely stop buying so much of this oil, and start re-thinking their usage. However, many of my classmates already stated that this type of production is very unsustainable. After a very long time there will be a huge amount of global warming created from this. Oil also is not a renewable source of energy and will run out. If people were to find out all of this, they would defiantly not consume the Alberta oil sands as much as they do. There are so many problems with having an economy based solely on natural resource extraction. As I stated before, it creates tons of pollution. Eventually the oil will run out and we will not have it to use at all. Vanessa and Brendan both asked this question, what are we going to do when the oil runs out? Surely the economy in Canada will not react well at all. We see the affects that this process is causing in the environment right now. Global warming continues to get worse and worse, and surely this is not helping at all. These are the problems with having an economy solely based on this, and why the Alberta oil sands are never used in the media.

  7. To start, I will be explaining what oil sand are. Oil sands are a mixture of sand, water, clay, bitumen that occur naturally in the ground. Oil sands are a thick oil, that can be used to make products such as gasoline and diesel. This viscous oil can be extracted from the Earth by two ways, drilling and surface mining. Surface mining is the more commonly used method, as it makes up for over half of the 1.2 million barrels of oil extracted daily. The Keystone XL pipeline is a pipeline with a 36 inch diameter that begins in Alberta and extends to Nebraska. This pipeline is used to send oil to places in Canada and the US. The reason for the oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline to have such bad reputations are because of many reasons. Firstly, the oil sands themselves have bad reputations as they are a detriment the our environment. The oil sands pollute many greenhouses gasses nto the air as well as risk water contamination. Oil sands bring harm to the land where the mine is, and emits carbon dioxide into the air. The burning of the bitumen in the oil sands is said to bring the Earth temperature up too. The oil sands are just not worth the risks they put to our Environment.As for the Keystone XL pipeline, there is much controversy surrounding the project as it brings too many problems along with it, that outweigh the goods. The pipeline is also a detriment to our Environment, as there is too much at risk. For example, the oil spills. Since the pipeline began in 2010, the pipeline has spilled around 14 times, including a spill that leaked 21, 000 gallons. The pipeline will also not create many jobs for our people, but it will put our wildlife, land and rivers at risk. The pipeline will run through wildlife that inhabit around 20 endangered species, as well as run through about 1,750 bodies of water. This puts at risk the contamination of drinking water for millions of people. It will increase the already vast damage of our beautiful Boreal forests, and increase the pollution of fossil fuels. There are just too many risks for this pipeline and the oil sands. This all would not be included in the ad, as the government wants the public only to see what they want to see, and that is a healthy environment and clean product production. Not the oil sand extraction process, which as Hannah said is unattractive and unruly. There is too much put at risk surrounding the oil sands and the pipeline. Along with the big risk of all this being unsustainable. For just how long does the government think we can keep extracting these oils from the ground, before our environment is completely destroyed or the oils simply run out? Nothing lasts forever, and that certainly applies to this. The economy can not be based off of something so unpredictable as this. We need to stop the extraction of oil sands and the use of the Keystone XL pipeline, before it is too late.

  8. As we know and explained by other classmates, the tar sands are located in Alberta. They contain a plentiful amount of oil, but they must be exploited in a way that is harmful to the environment. Because this is a huge business, the environment is hurt a lot. The issue with the Keystone pipeline, is that it encourages the use of the tar sands at an accelerated rate. This is a major issue, because we are already in an environmental catastrophe. Not only that, but it also discourages the use of sustainable energy in a sense, because the sustainable energy will not be of a greater quantity, and will therefore not be used. This also hurts Alberta, because they will lack sustainable energy once they run out of oil. With all that being said, the bad reputation of the Keystone pipelines is relatively clear.Another concern with the pipeline, is that oil may spill. Furthermore, if the oil leaks into a body of water, or where animals live, then the natural ecosystem will be damaged. To add insult to injury, this would cost some money, which would nullify some of the money made, thus destroying the whole purpose of this (as opposed to sustainable, "less profitable" energy). I think we can all come to an agreement that one of the main reasons that the tar sands were not shown in the advertisements, was because they're not visually appealing. I also believe that Canadians would get curious as to what the tar sands were if they saw them. This would then lead to people becoming more educated, and in the end, going against the tar sands, as diabolical as that sounds. Of course, the Canadian government (the Conservatives at the very least) would NOT want that.With an economy based off of a limited resources that is used to create energy, there are several issues. First, it's limited. Once we run out, we're out. Heck, since people are so focused on the oil sands, we have no plan B, therefore we're at high risk. Second, we have one main item. As stated before, if we only have a single major resource to base our economy around, we cannot afford to have that resource become less popular. As stated earlier, there is no plan B in this extremely risky situation. As a whole, it is clear that basing our economy around a limited form of energy is extremely risky, and it is imperative that something changes in the near future.

  9. Firstly, oil sands are a natural mixture of sand, clay, various minerals, water and bitumen. (Which is a very strong oil that must be modified before converted into gasoline or diesel.) They get a bad reputation because they are incredibly un attractive. Also, they take up a very large amount of space and they pollute a lot. This would not look great in a video advertising the Canadian government. This is why they did not show it.The keystone XL pipeline is a 1,179 mile pipeline that carries oil from Canada to the United States. If this pipeline is approved, it will carry oil directly from the oil sands in Alberta to the United States.Yes it is a problem if we strictly base our economy off of the extraction of natural resources. If our economy is based off of this then what happens when resources are too scarce or just simply gone? We would have to create a whole new economy without natural resources! That would be a very long, grieving process.

  10. Oil sands, also known as tar sands, extra heavy oil, or bituminous sands are basically just giant black, molasses like tar pits. These oil sands are really made up of 90% clay, sand and water, with 10% bitumen. So perhaps this is already an issue right here. The oil sands in Alberta are very important, but because of the fact (like Brendan said) that they are not being commercialized, and they are not pleasant to look at, people do not realize the importance of them. That is why I believe it was not in this commercial.In class we looked a little bit into what they keystone xl pipeline was, and from my research I learned that it is a project that was started in 2008 to transport petroleum products through pipelines in Canada and in the northern parts of the US.I happen to believe that there are both pros and cons with having an economy based solely on natural resource extraction, but the biggest issue for me is the fact that we will not be able to sustain all these resources for very long.This is why the keystone XL project is important, and needs to be the priority. NOW.

  11. We tend to cover up the bad things and make it seem like we live in a perfect world, which we all know is not accurate. In fact our world is far from perfect. In this ad, our government, has created these perfect images of what they want us all to think of our world but they have left out the aftermath. Brendan A has included a great description of what Oil Sands are. The government is trying to persuade us to think that these Oil Sands are a great way to supply a reliable energy source, but their missing the actual outcome of what their truly doing to our planet. Oil Sands are expensive, destroy our soil/natural environments and create an "ugly" atmosphere. Oil sands may be a good idea in our governments eyes, but it is not a good idea in my eyes.

  12. Oil sands, also known as tar sands, are a mixture of sand, clay, water and bitumen. This naturally formed mixture is like the density of the tar that you find in the cracks in the road. This tar like mixture is naturally made so it is one of Canada’s Natural Resources. The oil sands are mostly in 3 parts of Alberta, Peace River, Athabasca and Cold Lake, Athabasca being the “big” one. There is approx. 1.2 million barrels of oil being extracted from Alberta’s grounds daily. If the Government keeps taking this much oil from Alberta and selling it to companies in China and around the world, soon we will not have any oil at all. There are two sides to the story, a good and a bad. I have already touched on the bad side briefly. If we keep taking this much oil out of the ground it will soon be gone. Right now, the Government is selling this precious oil to other countries and companies around the the world. Now they are also wanting to build a pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. This isn’t only an expensive project it will also be running through water bodies, national forests, mountains and the home to many animals. With approx. 700 000 barrels of oil running from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico you have to watch out for spills breaks in the line. Now the good side, the Government brought up the point of how this pipeline and the extracting oil will bring Canada more jobs. This is not true. Right now in Canada we only have the companies and equipment to extract the oil from the ground. When we sell this oil we are not selling it as liquid oil it is still in the tar form. If we get new companies to be involved with changing the oil to gasoline or other useful materials, then jobs will come with these companies as well. It does sound a little selfish to keep all the oil to our citizens, but in the future it will do more good than harm. In all these Government videos they don’t show many views of the oil/tar sands. This is because of the look of them. These sands are not pretty. These companies are not respecting the land. They have ruined lakes, rivers, forests and the ground in general. If we find a way to extract the oil from the ground without ruining it these sands might be a success, but if we keep selling it in the quantities that we are there is no way these sands are going to last much longer.

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