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Bill Nye does not approve of Alberta’s oil sands

Bill Nye Canada
Bill Nye Canada
Bill Nye on BNN

Bill Nye. Oil sands. Toe to toe.

He’s better known in the U.S., but he continues to speak out against Canada’s oil sands industry.

“The Science Guy” says that not only is the northern Alberta resource development an environmental nightmare but it’s proof positive that Canada isn’t doing its part to avert climate change.

On hand at a Nintendo event in Toronto, the host of the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World had a few sharp words to say about Canada’s environmental track record.

“Fort McMurray doesn’t even look as good as the surface of the moon, and it’s the extent of it that’s really striking,” Nye said in conversation with BNN. “It’s huge, and you’re never going to get that forest back. Once you do that to it, it’s gone. You cut down trees that are 1,500 years old — that’s not going to come back in your lifetime.”

Said to be the third-largest oil reserves in the world after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, Alberta’s oil sands mining employs over 130,000 workers and accounts for 8.5 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to Environment Canada, and represents 0.12 per cent of global GHG emissions.

Nye argued that aside from its environmental impact, the oil sands industry isn’t an efficient use of resources.

Bill Nye: Canada has its head in the oil sands…

“So much of the energy in the tar is used to make the synthetic crude oil, it’s crazy inefficient,” he said. “When we were there shooting a National Geographic thing, the province was in debt and people were flipping out, and it’s because you can’t control the price of oil. People on the other side of the world control the price of oil. So, the sooner we all stop doing that, the better.”

Nye also attacked the hotly debated Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, saying that it will make it more difficult for Canada to argue that it’s doing its part on climate change.

“The more oil we make available, the worse it is for everybody else in the world. I’ll prove it to you: we only have one atmosphere, we all share the air. So, whatever you do to make the air directly more polluted by producing more carbon dioxide is bad for everybody,” he said. “This is not rocket science, it’s simpler than that.”

Last month, Nye went toe-to-toe with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the pipeline expansion, which would increase capacity of an Edmonton to Burnaby, BC, pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day, saying that he has spoken to a lot of his science colleagues who are concerned about the project.

“I’ve been to Fort McMurray, Alta., and it really is the most amazing place —in the most troubling way,” said Nye.

Trudeau defended his government’s approval of the pipeline expansion by making the argument that the development of Canada’s oil resources is itself part of the national plan to transition away from fossil fuels.

“We are going to have a transition phase while we develop alternatives to fossil fuels,” Trudeau said. “So while we are developing alternatives to fossil fuels, we still need to be able to power our homes, our cars, our economy and we have to do it in the most efficient and non-polluting way.”


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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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