In the vast, pristine forests of Western Canada, the war for water has already begun
Thanks to Albertas Athabasca oil sands, Canada is now the biggest oil supplier to the United States. A controversial billion-dollar industry is heavily invested in extracting crude from the tarry sands through a process so toxic it has become an international cause for concern. Four barrels of glacier-fed spring water are used to process each barrel of oil, then are dumped, laden with carcinogens, into leaky tailings ponds so huge they can be seen from space. Downstream, the people of Fort Chipewyan are already paying the price for what will be one of the largest industrial projects in history. When a local doctor raises the alarm about clusters of rare cancers, evidence mounts for industry and government cover-ups. In a time when wars are fought over oil and a crisis looms over access to clean fresh water, which resource is more precious? And what price are we willing to pay? — Gisèle Gordon.