A little perspective on the oilsands, please

Wind turbines and cats, not oilsands, are the big bird killers, says Tory MP


Sometimes a little perspective is in order, and today’s comes courtesy Brian Jean, the Conservative MP for Fort McMurray-Athabasca. Exasperated with the environmental uproar surrounding the oilsands—including last year’s news that 500 ducks had died in a tailings pond—Jean compiled some statistics on bird deaths. “How do you balance” those 500 ducks with the 6,000 birds killed annually on Toronto skyscrapers, the 200,000 caught in wind turbines, or the untold number killed by cats, he asked the Commons environment committee yesterday. Four wrongs don’t make a right, of course. And the environmental degradation wreaked by oilsands mining goes far beyond that committed by tall buildings or wind mills. Still, if bird deaths are the yardstick of society’s eco-sins, the citified critics of the oilsands might want consider damage being done by their proposed replacements for fossil fuel power—and by the condo towers they live in.

Calgary Herald

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A little perspective on the oilsands, please

  1. At least the minister has the grace to acknowledge his own sophism here. Yes why don’t we get caught up in yet another dreary debate about who kills more birds, fluffy the cat or tailings ponds. The industry and the AB govt only has itself to blame for its problems. Sticking yr head in a tailings pond may help for a while, but eventually those birds are gonna come home to roost – that is if there’s any left. Get on and fix the damn problem or admit you can’t and scale back. There is still oil in the ME, and they do want to sell it still!
    Concerned ciizen who lives down stream of Fort Mac!

    • kc says: “There is still oil in the ME, and they do want to sell it still!”

      Of course they do; that black gold buys a lot of rockets to lob into Israel.

      If you want to see real degradation of the environment, wait until one of these ricj oil states finally get the bomb. I’ll take some tailing ponds drowning a few ducks over the devastation of a nuclear winter any day.

  2. The Macleans editorial staff is engaging in aiding Jean’s sophism. As JAWL said:

    Ignoring the fact that the 500 ducks died within minutes of landing in the tailing pond and that the tailing pond was big enough for a flock of 500 ducks to land in, it is the rampant, uncontrolled, destruction and pollution of the land, air and water that most concerned North Americans are focusing on


    • The minister is indeed hitting on the right point. The bird killings IS NOT and SHOULD NOT be used as a yardstick. The tailing ponds is indeed a great eco issue but not by how many birds or how fast it kills them. It is pretentious for the green movement to latch onto this issue and chew on the public’s eco-awareness because of the 500 birds killed. That will only lead to pointless short-term solutions to be elected to solve the “bird” problem, which as the minister pointed out, isn’t the real problem at all. Let’s concentrate on finding a way for the oilsands industry to be more accountable with regards to tailing ponds management instead of some stupid bird-safety system.

      • Aaron, eco-fraudsters never, really want to see the tar sands close down, the same way they really don’t want to see the seal hunt end. Without them, how would they hoodwink all those suckers into sending them money and government grants. Lizzie May made a lifetime career complaining about the tar ponds in Sydney. She is the biggest reason the clean up isn’t finished long ago. Now that she and her big mouth have left Cape Breton for greener pastures the job of cleaning up the mess is well underway by people who really care about the environment and and are prepared to do the heavy lifting. I’m sure Lizzie is busy flying of to some eco-meeting in some exotic place or calling a news conference to tell anyone who will listen how great she is. There is only one thing you can ever do or say to shut these people up…appoint them to the Senate. Cheers.

        • eco-fraudsters never, really want to see the tar sands close down, the same way they really don’t want to see the seal hunt end

          Bad comparison, wayne moores. The oilsands are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The seal killing industry is mere pocket change.

      • A big net over the ponds will not address the environmental problem. We need to find a way to extract the valuable material in a more acceptable manner.

  3. I can’t use big words like sophism, so I won’t. Maybe I’ll just say I don’t agree? Maybe we should consider muzzling all cats when they are out in public?

  4. The killing of 500 birds in the tailing ponds does require a little more perspective. It is not a big number when compared to the total number of bird deaths due to other causes. However, all these 500 deaths occurred in a very short period of time when the guns that drive away the birds were temporarily inactive. Normally, these guns are used to scare away the wildfowl who like to roost on the tailing ponds.

    Just imagine what would happen if the oil companies move out and stop using the guns even for a few days during the spring season.

    I am totally in support of rapid oilsands development to maintain Alberta’s prosperity, but only when all proper safeguards are put in place. The companies must be held accountable for cleaning up the mess they leave behind.

    The oilsands are very valuable resources and they must be developed with proper environmental responsibility. And with today’s technology, this type of development is entirely possible. We have carbon capture technology to reduce emissions and surely there is technology available to clean up the tailing ponds.

    • I agree, and we should also put the same pressure on the wind power and other so-called “green” industries. Wind power fields are bird-killing machines. You couldn’t possible devise a more efficient method of killing birds.

  5. Is it really true that wind turbines kill birds? I know for a fact that skyscrapers and house cats are both devastating for song bird populations. (The impact of house cats running loose is no exaggeration.) But the wind turbine – dead bird connection seems based less on evidence and more on some sort of “everybody knows that” assumption.

    I’m not defending wind turbines. I think they are an ugly scourge on the environment, completely inefficient at producing power once the costs of linking them to the grid are considered, and a colossal mistake that will make the ethanol racket look tiny by comparison. But is there some credible evidence that they kill birds?

    I hope there is, because that’s one more reason for me to hate wind turbines. But I like to back up my hatred with facts. I feel more righteous that way. :)

  6. 47,5000 Americans killed each year in automobile accidents. Injuries are ,ofcourse much more.

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