Canada's oil sands means "game over" for planet, warns NASA scientist James Hansen

If Canada continues to exploit Alberta's tar sands, it will be "game over",  NASA scientist James Hansen warned in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Friday. 

"Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves 'regardless of what we do.'" Hansen wrote. 

"If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate."

Hansen outlined the environmental risks of developing Canada’s tar sands reserves, which contain double the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in history. (Earlier this year, VO climate writer Barry Saxifrage published an info-graphic on Canadian tar sands that was sent by the National  Resource Defense Council to every US Senator and Representative in March).   

"If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now," Hansen wrote. 

He asserted that emissions would need to be reduced dramatically in order to avoid the "apocalyptic" future of an inhabitable planet with sea levels destroyinng coastal cities and global temperatures rising to the point of killing off large portions of the earth's species.  

Although Congress did reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas) in January, Hansen urged US President Obama to take stronger action to prevent tar sands oil from accessing Gulf Coast refining in order to prevent further environmental deterioration. 

More in Environment

Canada’s first land raised Atlantic salmon achieves top eco-ranking

Canada's first land-raised Atlantic salmon has achieved the top sustainability ranking issued by the world's leading independent eco-ranking program. KUTERRA Land Raised Atlantic salmon has received...

Coastal GasLink pipeline project granted environmental assessment approval

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman and Environment Minister Mary Polak issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate to Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. for the Coastal GasLink Pipeline...
Ian McAllister tidal wolf photo - Great Bear Wild - used with permission

Great Bear Rainforest photographer urges a halt on tar sands oil

Spotting a pair of hungry wolves return to the same tidal spot on B.C.'s rainforest coast he's seen them come to for years, photographer Ian McAllister whipped into action: zipping up his dry suit,...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.

Tar Sands processing already POLLUTING TOLEDO OHIO

Pipeline... who needs a pipeline? You realize where THE DREADED TAR SANDS are ALREADY PROCESSED, thanks to progressive Congresswoman Kaptur? Yup - where there are frequent PM10 readings over 500... TOLEDO, OHIO.

Good schooling on Progressive Kaptur

Good schooling on Progressive Kaptur - best leader in Ohio, I suppose - There are currently 16 states with refineries equipped to process tar sands oil, and the BP refinery outside Toledo is one of those. Ms. Kaptur has said that she is ” . . . extremely pleased with the announcement that BP has given the green light for the Sunrise project in Alberta.” This in spite of the fact her statement came shortly after the Deep Water Horizon disaster, and eight months after the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA proposed more than $3 million in fines for42 violations of employee safety at the BP/Toledo refinery.Ms. Kaptur is not an uninformed representative. In protesting the NAFTA Super Highway in 2008, she blasted the “foreigners”: “They are so filthy rich!” Meanwhile, ExxonMobil, the producer of the tar sands oil, ripped off a record $40 billion in quarterly profits during a depression while millions of American lost jobs and homes, as cited by Lanny Colter and Paul Edwards in their hard-hitting video ¡Stop the Megaloads Now! Can you repeat, Ms. Kaptur, “filthy rich“? $40 billion in one quarter? Exxon. BP. Tar Sands. Colter and Edwards do not mince words when it comes to the actions of the people and their elected representatives: What about American states helping promote the dirtiest oil extraction in the world? . . . Maybe you don’t care about dirty oil extraction or destruction of a natural ecosystem. What about States assisting the biggest contributor to rapid climate change on the planet? . . . Maybe you don’t care about CO2 pollution. Maybe you don’t believe in global warming. Well, if not, you better ask yourself what would trouble you. How much arrogant contempt for you and your world would it take to make you fight back? What would it take, Ms. Kaptur, for you to criticize BP for the refinery in your district that is currently being retrofitted to process oil from the tar sands? For you to hold BP responsible for this environmental raping as you did for the Deep Water Horizon disaster? Repeated requests by the author for a comment from Ms. Kaptur regarding the Keystone XL pipeline were brushed off with a statement that she had voted against expediting the review of the Keystone XL pipeline. Voting with the democratic bloc against rather meaningless republican legislation is not a statement, and no further statement was forthcoming. Not only are civil disobedience and large protests necessary in DC. Local representatives and senators who allow the processing of the tar sands oil in our communities, toxic sludge brought in by dangerous pipelines, must be lobbied and held accountable for their positions. Ms. Kaptur must be held accountable to her description of herself as a “strong advocate of environmental responsibility and policies,” if she is to be considered a politician with any integrity. * I know – they don’t really exist. Dr. Trudy Bond is a psychologist who has lived in Toledo, Ohio for 34 years. She attended fundraisers and supported Ms. Kaptur the first year she ran for Congress. She can be reached at [email protected].

youre so funny

Quoting James Hasen,, thats like Quoting Homer Simpson....Except Homer is right more often...

FAlse analogy

ian Drever wrote:

Quoting James Hasen,, thats like Quoting Homer Simpson....Except Homer is right more often...

I can't help it!!!!!  Having read James Hansen, and avoided Homer Simpson for most of my life, I have to say:

The signature argument of the agressive but generally unread right wing is to hurl an name call or belittle their opponents.  Generally they need know nothing about their opponents to play this elementary little school yard game.

Luckily, the teacher supervisor is alert today:  Homer Simpson is a caricature of male arrogance and endearing stupidity;  James Hansen is a kind of icon for the lifelong commitment of actual science.  No one has to stretch to 'get' Homer; most of us have to read carefully to follow everything Hansen knows from a life of research into climate science.


So what we have here is a quick and dirty slur: and the logical fallacy of false analogy, quite possibly put forward by someone who doesn't read anything but neo liberal cant.  Its embarrassing to see such statements in print, but what can we do with people who are so sure of themselves they make fools of themselves without a moments hesitation?

Tell them it isn't working.

"Environment Canada Defensive" on its track record ...VO....

The response by Enviroment Canada to accusations it has muzzled, or is being muzzled by, the Federal Government (Harper etal) is a typical bureaucratic sideshow;  hide the truth behind a blizzard of self-praise exonerating itself from failure till it appears beneficent! There has never in the history of Canada been such a dismantling and abandonment of environmental protection and research--never before like this, and never the current muzzling of the truth- -even to the point of moving to force the joint Canadian-U.S. Arctic research team to keep secret any findings concerning climate change and ozone depletion in that hemisphere. This muzzling of scientific findings, cessation of research, and removal of protection for thousands of rivers , lakes, streams, drinking water, our wild fisheries, marine life, and communities and peoples dependending on them---amounts almost to treason, for it is advancing destruction of values intrinsic to a sustainable future for this country and its natural blessings. Canada, wake up!  Lest we find ourselves bereft of our priceless self-sustaining wild resources, and a pariah in the world community seeking to work with Nature and not against her--the only way we will ever reach the stars.