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General News · 12th February 2014
Bill Wheeler
This note is in response to Tom Fletcher’s BC Views column that appeared in the Jan 24 issue of the Campbell River Mirror and to Rex Murphy’s CBC television piece that also is related to Neil Young’s recent comments regarding Alberta’s tar sands.

Mr. Fletcher objects, among other things, to Neil Young’s use of Hiroshima in comparison to the tar sands development. From his CBC platform, Rex Murphy also doesn’t like the use of Hiroshima and pontificates at length about the inappropriateness of the comparison. I agree, they are two quite different things. The war criminally heinous Hiroshima bomb blast killed well over 100,000 people. What Hiroshima and the tar sands strip mining project do have in common though, are the vast expanses of devastated, toxic, lifeless landscape. In that way, at least, I think the analogy is quite apt. But then, another way that Hiroshima and tar sands mining differ is in scale, the area affected by tar sands mining is approximately 100 times as big as the area devastated by the Hiroshima blast.

Both Tom Fletcher and Rex Murphy used a bunch of personally derogatory assertions about Neil Young as if that was somehow relevant. Rather than respond to any more of what they said I’d like to say that I am just sick to death of people putting themselves up there as if they are being reasonable and rational and yet still seeing something of benefit in strip mining the tar sands like we are.

If you go by the science of it, it is clear that we can burn only a small percentage of the fossil fuels we know about before the earth and the climate become severely inhospitable to life as we know it. And it is equally clear that the tar sands must be among the reserves that are not developed and burnt.

In this day and age, anyone who uses their public platform to advocate for strip mining the Alberta tar sands is acting in a highly irresponsible manner. There will be no net social benefit to mining the Alberta tar sands. A few corporate people will make a lot of money. The rest of us will be left to clean up, as best as possible, and live with all the toxic messes, pay for increased health care costs caused by the poisonous nature of the project, and deal with a more and more unstable atmosphere. It seems to me that support for strip mining Alberta’s tar sands comes only from delusion or greed.

James Hansen's done the math
Comment by David Shipway on 13th February 2014
Neil Young's comparison is not just visual, it has some thermal validity too: Anthropogenic climate forcing is now the equivalent heat output of 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day.
Staggering statistic!
That could have something to do with our species' fondness for 12o billion overheated energy slaves.

See Barry's article here, which has a link to Hansen's TED talk: