Demystifying the Tar Sands of Alberta

About a year ago, Wired Magazine (among others) sang the praises of Alberta’s vast untapped “heavy oil” deposits: They are said to rival the oil deposits of the middle east, and would be worth bazillions if not for the fact that the oil is so sand-saturated that you have dig out 2 tons of the stuff just to extract a barrel. If, as investors hope, the cost of extraction were to go down, then the era of “oil independance” would take on a whole new meaning.
As usual, oil glazed eyes are missing a few major problems, as outlined today on Past Peak: “extracting oil from the sands sucks up two-thirds of the energy they ultimately render, poisoning the atmosphere with carbon in the process. Producing a single barrel of oil from tar sands emits no less than six times more carbon dioxide than producing a barrel of conventional oil.” There’s a lot more.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.