Friday, February 8, 2008

Eating Oil: From Tar Sands to Food

Alex is on vacation next week. But the show must go on! I've worked up another hot topic, for one of the coldest winters in recent years.

Yes, although it seems like a decent winter this year, due to La Nina the cooler Pacific current - you can depend on the fact that mega-tons of carbon dioxide continue to pour out of the coal plants and our smokestacks.

It turns out even industrialized agriculture is helping to heat the planet! Greenpeace has released a new report called "Cool Farming". We learn that agriculture may be responsible for greenhouse gases - anywhere from 17 percent to 30 percent of the total humans cause! Our oil-based food production, the way we chop down rainforests for more farming, the way we destroy the soil - it all adds up.

One shocking factor is the amount of nitrous oxide gas, a powerful greenhouse agent, is released by wasted chemical fertilizers. Dr. Pete Smith, an IPCC author and respected scientist in the UK, was lead author on the Greenpeace Report. I asked him how the humble fertilizer could really make a difference to our world, and all our descendants. Dr. Smith has some answers on how we can move to "cool farming."

The second interview is with Josh Brandon, in Canada, a Greenpeace agriculture campaigner. We look at the impact of industrialized agriculture, especially in North America.

But where does an increasing share of America's oil come from? The most despicable and damaging source of all: The Canadian Tar Sands. A few weeks ago a tar sands activist, MacDonald Stainsby, gave an update - and it doesn't look pretty . They will scrape away the whole surface of the Earth, for an area the size of Florida.

The toxic tailing ponds are right along the mighty Athabasca River. And most of that river is being drained away to make the oil. It takes one barrel of oil to make a hundred in the Middle East. It takes one barrel of oil to make just three in the Canadian Tar Sands. That is how incredibly inefficient it is.

Did I mention that most of Canada's northern new natural gas reserves will go into the dirty tar sands as well? Maybe Alaskan natural gas as well? Cleaner fuel to make dirty, all the while wrecking Canada's North. Keep those SUV's going - at any cost!!!

Here is the one hour Ecoshock show for 080215 in CD Quality (56 MB) and Lo-Fi (mono 14 MB). Notes: 30 sec music bed for Stn ID at 30:51

Alex Smith

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