Will Ft. McMurray destroy the world?

 John H. Richardson's article "Keystone" in Esquire this month concerns the "little Canadian town that might just destroy the world." 

Richardson interviews a large cast of characters from Ft. McMurray's mayor to Premier Alison Redford, First Nations activists, truck drivers, drunkards, lap dancers and television personalities. Boosters and critics, winners and losers populate this compelling, in-depth article.  Richardson also gains access to Big Oil's psyche via Statoil's Christian Bacher, whom he nails down on questions of carbon and corporate responsibility. 

Sort of. 

"I think, you know, it's — I think everybody can try to do whatever they can to improve. We do it on the operational part. It's sort of up to the individual to improve on the private part of it, Bacher says.

This brutally well-written story examines the tension building in Canada over the exploration of the Alberta oil sands, showing just what's at stake.  Pitting a love of nature, tradition and beauty against desire for money,  and more money, we can find pieces of the Canada we know in this story, and perhaps reflections of ourselves.

Whether to build the international pipeline, designed to convey the Tar-sands oil from the massive deposits in Western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast for refining, has not only become an explosive issue in this year's presidential election, it has become central to the debate over the future habitability of planet earth

Funny, sad, and blunt, Richardson tells a story that we all now play a part in, even if we don't live in Ft. McMurray or make our living from the oil sands.  Oil is in nearly every product we use, it fuels the economic propserity we've enjoyed for the last sixty years, according to Bill McKibben. And as one of the least wise U.S. presidents wisely pointed out, we're all addicted to it. 

With leading climatologist James Hansen calling further exploration of Canada's tar sands, "game over" for the planet, McKibben paints more tar sands mining as lighting a fuse to the world's carbon bomb.

Scary scenarios, and now scientists tell us, we aren't talking about the future. We're talking about a parched planet getting hotter by the day.

Read article.

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