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Bill Nye Depressed by Tar Sands' 'Extraordinary Exploitation’ of Environment

Energy

Bill Nye recently took a trip north to the Alberta tar sands while filming his new science documentary and he did not mince words about the state of Canada's crude oil reservoir.

“Producing all this oil that’s producing all this carbon dioxide, that’s not good from a global stand point,” the children's television icon told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (or APTN, a Canadian television network).

"From an environmental point of view locally, it's astonishing and overwhelming," he said.

After taking an aerial tour, Nye added that the sight of the oil sands was "depressive."

The Alberta tar sands is one of the largest bitumen (extremely heavy crude oil) reserves in the world, as well as one of the largest source sites of carbon pollution on the planet. (In case you didn't know, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport this toxic muck right through the U.S., from Alberta to refineries in Texas.)

During his trip Nye visited Fort McKay First Nation, a community that's been choked by the damaging effects of the mining operations.

"The Science Guy" told APTN he was "amazed" by the size of the tar sands production and commented on its wreckage to surrounding ecosystems.

“Furthermore, consider all the toxins that are being used to move the fluid around and then they put in these enormous ponds, or lakes, or encampments,” Nye said. “It’s very much out of nature’s natural state.”

He added, “I think anybody would say that First Nations have rights that have been abridged or catastrophically curtailed.”

Nye told the network about how the upcoming Canadian federal election and the possible ousting of Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper could spell hope for the environment. “Everybody is talking about the very strong possibility” that the Harper government will be voted out, Nye said.

“Everybody says they feel like the tipping point’s been reached," he continued. "Everyone we speak with, where enough is enough kind of thing. But then you have people that are in denial of climate change, who justify all of this extraordinary exploitation to the environment. It’s amazing the scale of it, is just very hard to believe and very troubling.”

Nye has spoken out about the tar sands and the Canadian Conservative Leader before. "The government in Canada is currently being influenced by the fossil-fuel industry," he told VICE last year. "Stephen Harper is a controversial guy in the science community because [of] the policies, especially in Western Canada."

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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