Neil Young said many provocative things about the oilsands, but the one that became a lightning rod for criticism was this: “The fact is, Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima”.* He later explained that the reference to Fort McMurray was meant to symbolize all of the oilsands operations in northern Alberta.
Is the comparison appropriate?
Michiko Sakata in a letter to the Calgary Herald said yes:
I am from Nagasaki, which was A-bombed together with Hiroshima. My late sister was one of the survivors.
Last fall, I was at the Natural History Museum in London and saw the exhibition for the wildlife photographer of the year. A photograph of the oilsands entitled Oil Spoils, by the Canadian photographer Garth Lenz, was the runner-up for the World in Our Hands award.
Although Hiroshima and Nagasaki were incinerated and thousands of people were killed, the aerial photograph of the oilsands which I saw for the first time is much more scary, ugly and disturbing than photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I agree with Neil Young regarding this matter. We should all work to stop the further terrible destruction of the planet.
Michiko Sakata, North Vancouver, B.C.
Here’s the Garth Lenz’s photograph “Oil Spoils”.
Mr Lenz describes his subject as the landscape—both natural and industrial. He uses photographs to tell an ecological story. They’re brilliant.
He produces haunting photographs of large scale industrial operations from all over the world and admits to being “gobsmacked” by the sheer size and scale of the Athabasca oil sands. He describes its colours, shapes and light in organic terms.
“It’s like this growing thing and its roadways are like metaphors for this industry just reaching out. I keep thinking if you look at what we have achieved with the oilsands and we applied that same kind of commitment in research, money, entrepreneurship and technology to some kind of renewable energy, what would that look like in 10, 20 even 30 years?”**
*The Telegraph, Sept 13, 2013
**Victoria Times Colonist, Nov 29, 2013