This process is proven to generate up to four times the amount of greenhouse gases per barrel of the finished product than the extraction of oil from conventional sources (i.
This is just a statistic, what does it mean in real terms? Tar sands projects affect all areas of the natural environment, from land and water to air and trees and it makes for scary reading.
All mining leaves some kind of wound on the landscape, some can be healed but others leave permanent scars - tar sands projects are one of these.
Here are just a couple of ways in which the extraction of oil from tar sands affects the environment.
The lie of the land The major result of extracting oil from tar sands is deforestation, as a large part of these mining operations involves clearing trees and shrubs to get to the tar sands.
Despite one of the conditions of being granted an oil mining license being that a reclamation plan must be put in place, the incredibly long time scales that these large oil companies work to mean that repairing damage to land becomes a very small dot in the distance.
How does it affect water levels? Let's start with the numbers - Greenpeace gives the volume of water used for oil sands operations across the world as 349 million cubic metres per year, to put that into context, this is more than twice the amount of water used by the city of Calgary.
This gluttonous use of water threatens the supply of water to households neighbouring the mining areas and this, combined with the very real effects of global warming, is a big concern.
It's quite simple, until a less destructive method is found of extracting oil from tar sands, it must stop - oil is undoubtedly a vital resource for the human race but sheer profit is not a valid reason to destroy our planet.