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The following is the first in a series of pieces highlighting how our dependence on oil has pushed us to the age of ‘Extreme Energy’ where increasingly risky environmental and public health trade-offs are accepted as the status quo in the ravenous pursuit of energy.

by Jessica Hendricks, Program Coordinator

If you have been paying attention to the global debate on climate change, most likely you have come across the tar sands, one of the dirtiest types of crude oil out there.

Tar sands oil comes from the pristine forests of Canada, surprisingly the largest supplier of foreign oil to the United States. Tar sands is crude oil mixed with sand and rocks meaning it takes much more processing to become a final product like gasoline. Imagine actually squeezing the oil out of rocks and sand and you get a pretty good idea what tar sands is like. The production and refining process emits 3-5 times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil and uses about twice as much water, a natural resource we can’t waste, as conventional oil drilling. It has been predicted that by 2015 tar sands could emit more greenhouse gases than the nation of Denmark (population 5.4 million).

Tar sands “oil” is the oil industry’s scheme to scrape the dirtiest, most dangerous waste at the bottom of the barrel.

This last ditch effort has propelled industry and consumers into uncharted territory, marking extreme devastation and dire consequences to human health and the environment. This is what happens when our oil addiction exceeds our natural resources.
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Why is oil still leaking uncontrollably in the Gulf of Mexico?  Why has every solution failed? How come we don’t know how to stop it?

Probably because this oil addiction has led us into uncharted territory, where the industrial pursuit for energy exceeds their ability to contain the environmental and human health impacts.  This uncharted territory is being coined as “Extreme Energy”. Read the rest of this entry »