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The Negative Environmental Implications of the Athabasca Oil Sands

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THE NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE ATHABASCA OIL SANDS

“The modern era began with the discovery that started the most brilliant, inventive, and destructive age in the history of mankind. The age of energy.” The Athabasca oil sands were founded in the late 1960s and have now developed into a major player within the Canadian economy, acting as its prominent supplier of crude oil. With roughly 2.5 trillion barrels of oil in the ground, the oil sands are one of the largest deposits in the world. However, a problem arises with the extraction process, as it is both expensive and cumbersome with the presence of bitumen within the oil (a highly viscous, black hydrocarbon). Therefore, the extensive extraction process that is required by oil mining companies leads to negative environmental implications. As a result, this paper will discuss the extent of these environmental implications in terms of escalating greenhouse gas emissions, the depletion and contamination of water reserves, and the destruction of terrestrial ecosystems within the Boreal forest. In addition to this, the underlying notion of Alberta’s unlikely future for a sustainable environment.
Greenhouse gases (GHG) are emissions within the atmosphere that absorbs and emit radiation, thus damaging the ozone layer. Taking this into consideration, the expansionary development associated with the Athabasca oil sands are rapidly increasing the level of pollution emitted within Canada. The oil sands alone are a source of more than one billion kilograms of air pollutants, placing the province of Alberta as the leading contributor within Canadian industry. Of these pollutants, the most commonly released by industry-burning fossil fuel companies are criteria air contaminants (CACs). CACs include carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide (all of which are primary components of greenhouse gas)....

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