Canada reported to the United Nations that the country's greenhouse-gas emissions were dropping, down 6 percent in the last year. But the government left out one teensy little detail in its report. The emissions from the oil-sands industry, which extracts hard-to-reach oil from tar sands, increased by 20 percent in 2009. Pollution from the oil sands now outweigh the emissions from all the cars on Canadian roads.
The tar-sands industry is exploding in Canada as high oil prices trump expensive extraction techniques. Over the past two decades, emissions from the industry have increased 300 percent, wiping out some of the improvements Canada’s seen in its other industries.
In past years, the Canadian government has detailed oil-sands emissions in its U.N. report. But the sector's set to grow even bigger without getting any less gross, so now is a convenient time to switch over to the “oil sands? What oil sands?” approach.