Athabascan Tar Sands Case Study

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The Athabascan Tar Sands: Why Tree Hugging is Good Business
We are divided between the unethical and the irresponsible. We contribute to global emissions that are rapidly snowballing out of our control while trying to balance a precarious economy. Yet some feel that to benefit one would inherently be to the detriment to the other. Canada can not afford to view the world through the lens of this false dichotomy and reconciliation between these two sides is the only option. The exportation of Canadian fossil fuels is destroying our environment and is sacrificing our long-term economic prosperity for fleeting gains. A sensible and sound opposition to the expansion of the Athabascan Tar Sands must be taken, if not for our morals then for our wallets.
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The green house effect is a climate phenomenon caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that trap heat in the atmosphere (Shaftel). While necessary to maintain life on earth, this fragile ecological process can be tipped too far in either direction. Sadly, this is exactly what has been happening. Global temperatures have increased to an unprecedented 1.1 degrees since industrialization (Hansen et. La.). This may not sound momentous so to put that into perspective. 20,000 years ago, at the height of the last ice age, global temperatures were five degrees colder than now (Shaftel). Or for something a little closer to home, sixteen of the last seventeen years have been the hottest years ever recorded, with each new year setting the new record after the last (Shaftel). In 2014, 1300 independent leading ecological scientists convened for the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations. They concluded there was a 95% chance that this increase has been the direct result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels (Intergovernmental Panel). The temperature increase has far deeper consequences than just hotter days, though. As the temperature increases weather patterns are exaggerated, with a tendency of more arid climates. This means increased desertification, more powerful storms, and harsher droughts. Large bodies of ice, like glaciers or the polar ice …show more content…
They lack the existing infrastructure and the ability to allocate resources towards preparation and relief. Without the proper infrastructure, already existing tensions are exaggerated as basic commodities become scarce in the wake of the increasingly common natural disasters. Starvation, theft, and violence can become common place (Warrel). As people struggle to survive, the pre-existing in-out groups are deepened and the battle for resources escalates (Warrel). These extreme survival conditions devastate nations by pitting neighbour against neighbour with violent sectarian rhetoric. After all, when you lack enough food to go around it is those closest to you that you prioritize. Though Canada may have it in abundance, fresh water is one of the most at-risk resources world wide. The World Bank has estimated “[up to] 6% [decline] of GDP by 2050 due to water-related impacts on agriculture, health, and incomes.” (High and Dry) for the regions of the middle east, central Africa, and east Asia. This makes sense as we know the world is becoming more arid. These regions of the world are due to experience momentous tragedy in the coming

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