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Photos give world a glimpse of oilsands

Images of oil-slick tailings ponds and behemoth smoke stacks from Alberta’s oilsands will be viewed by roughly 10 million people around the world in a feature story inside the March edition of National Geographic.

Images of oil-slick tailings ponds and behemoth smoke stacks from Alberta’s oilsands will be viewed by roughly 10 million people around the world in a feature story inside the March edition of National Geographic.

The article refers to the mills as “dark” and “satanic” and the images show glimpses of what life’s like in Alberta’s once booming oilsands and in Fort McMurray.

In one photo, a photographer captures an extremely long lineup of customers in a Mac’s convenience store.

In another image, a radar device floats in a slick tailings pond. The device is designed to scare away birds from landing in the toxic water.

“The magazine does have an international reach and for the first time, many people around the globe are going to get a sense of the tremendous environmental and human rights costs of tarsands extraction,” said Mike Hudema, a spokesman with Greenpeace.

“Being able to show that to the world ... is a good step in the right direction.”

The article says the province’s carbon emissions will level off by 2020. By 2050, it adds, they will decline below levels that were seen in 2005.

The article says the commitment to reducing carbon emissions is greater than that of the U.S.

government. The article also included an interview with Premier Ed Stelmach, the government confirmed yesterday.

Jason Chance, a spokesman with Alberta’s energy department, says the article is fair in its approach to the oilsands as it also covers the industry’s successes.

“It has tried to provide some balance and some of the statements in there are made by different individuals who may not have a fully balanced approach,” said Chance.

Hudema says the magazine will further harm Alberta’s image because of its “real” look into the oilsands.

“It’s a really horrific site of what we’re doing (in Alberta),” said Hudema.

“We’re talking about carving massive amounts of boreal forest and ecosystems to build massive gigantic tarpits.”

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