'Time to Act Is Now': North American Scientists Unite Against Tar Sands

“No new oil sands or related infrastructure projects should proceed unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health, and respect treaty rights.”

So begins a letter (pdf) published Wednesday by more than 100 leading scientists from the U.S. and Canada, two days after G7 countries pledged to be free of their reliance on fossil fuels by the end of the century.

We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit news service. All of our content is free to you – no subscriptions; no ads. We are funded by donations from our readers. This media model only works if enough readers pitch in. We have millions of readers every month and, it seems, too many take our survival for granted. It isn’t. Our critical Mid-Year fundraiser is off to a very slow start – only 301 readers have contributed a total of $11,000 so far. We must raise $39,000 more before we can end this fundraising campaign and get back to focusing on what we do best.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, we need you.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to our Mid-Year Fundraiser now!

Extraction of tar sands is incompatible with the U.S. and Canada’s vow to fight climate change, the letter states, outlining 10 reasons that a moratorium on any such projects is crucial to preventing irreversible damage to the world’s climate and significant negative impacts on the global economy, among other things.

Those reasons include:

  1. Continued expansion of oil sands and similar unconventional fuels in Canada and beyond is incompatible with limiting climate warming to a level that society can handle without widespread harm;
  2. Oil sands should be one of the first fuel sources we avoid using as society moves to non-polluting forms of energy, not the next carbon-intensive source we exploit;
  3. Current oil sands environmental protections and baseline data are largely lacking, and protections that exist are too seldom enforced;
  4. Contaminants from oil sands  development permeate the land, water and air of the Canadian boreal landscape, and many of these impacts are difficult to mitigate;
    “Working together, we can solve the energy problems before us. It is not too late, but the time to act is now.”
  5. Less than 0.2% of the area affected by Canadian oil sands mining has been reclaimed, and none restored to its original state;
  6. Development and transport of oil sands is inconsistent with the title and rights of many Aboriginal Peoples of North America;
  7. What happens in North America will set a precedent for efforts to reduce carbon pollution and address climate warming elsewhere;
  8. Controlling carbon pollution will not derail the economy;
  9. Debates about individual pipeline proposals underestimate the full social costs of the oil sands, and existing policies ignore cumulative impacts;
  10. A majority of North Americans want their leaders to address climate change, and they are willing to pay more for energy to help make that happen.