Fossil fuels is one the great aspects that kick started the epoch in Earth`s History that we refer to as the Anthropocene, and it seems also to be one of the aspects that will force us to change it radically because of the problems that we see today, especially with global warming and the social, economic and ecological degradation that it brings.
First out of the different fossil fuels to be used in a larger industrial scale was coal in the 18th Century in England, a starting point from which also the Anthropocene to a large extent was born. Even from the start with this early industrialisation it was clear that this kind of energy source were damaging to the environment with problems with smoke, soot and dangerous exhausts.
The extraction of oil started in the late 19th century and became fast what we refer to as the “black gold”, and is also today one of the most important and lucrative source of energy. But the resources to this “black gold” is limited, and with peak oil just around the corner and the lack of alternatives the methods of extracting and production of oil has become more and more desperate. One of the latest ways to extract oil from the crust of the Earth is Oil Sand mining.
The picture above shows Oil Sand mining in Alberta, Canada. The Landscape in the photo used to be boreal forest. Oil Sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollutions in Canada. Other great impacts of this mining is toxic tailing dumps and hundreds of square kilometers of stripmining and drilling which ruins the boreal forest for all future to come (Pembina, 2013).
In history oil and the Anthropocene has walked hand in hand, but never without problems and conflicts. Equally valuable for production as it has been, equally uncompromising is this energy source when it comes to destroy important parts of the living conditions on Earth, both geological, ecological, athmospheric, social and cultural. Is Oil Sand showing the end of this relationship between oil and the Anthropocene , or is it just another sad continuation of this relationship? Whatever the answer is to this, the picture above is a real illustration of an unsustainable operation with natural resources that is happening right now. The values that are lost with this activity are not only large scale important natural resources and biodiversety, but also great and important cultural values for the local people that are living around these boreal forests.
All credits to the photographer Julia Kilpatrick from Pembina Institute who has taken the photo above. The Pembina Institute has the Copy Write to the photo and I have been given permission to use it.