Like jet skis, the oil sands mines are a classic example of a harmful technology that should never have been created but was, simply because it could be, and because it would make a few people fabulously rich.
As Marsden describes it, the industry is so damaging and irrational that you'd think someone would slam the brakes.
Instead, projects are rubber-stamped and supported with generous tax breaks and lax oversight. Through the stories of families sickened or financially devastated by polluted water or air, Marsden describes how the government and regulators ignore victims and trample opponents.
In fact, he says, the oil sands, combined with Alberta's growing mania for extracting natural gas from coal seams by injecting toxic chemicals into the ground – thereby poisoning some of the dwindling supply of drinking water – threaten to create a parched, deforested, polluted wasteland. "At the end of the day you will have a pot of gold with no place to live." ::The Star