The Alberta government says the depiction is “fair,” and Jim Prentice, the federal Environment Minister, brushed it off as “just one article.” But the latest issue of National Geographic—featuring a 20-page story/photo spread of Fort McMurray’s oil sands—is so much more than a blip of bad publicity. In fact, some have gone so far as to describe the exposé as the “baby-seal moment” for Alberta’s oil sands—a PR nightmare that no amount of damage control can ever reverse. The story features, in glossy detail, sludge-filled toxic ponds, discoloured fish, and other snapshots of environmental devastation. The words are equally troubling. “In northern Alberta,” the author writes, “the question of how to strike that balance [between economics and the environment] has been left to the free market, and its answer has been to forget about tomorrow. Tomorrow is not its job.” Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was quick to criticize the fact that Stephen Harper has “done nothing” to clean up the oil sands, but he, too, jumped to the defence of the industry responsible for all those nasty images. “Am I proud of this industry? You bet,” he said “It’s a world leader. We just need to make it better. But I don’t take lessons from the National Geographic.” For those of you who do want to take lessons from National Geographic, here’s the story.