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Good Reads: ugly oil harvests; dueling environmentalists; and morality in animals

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The US presidential campaign kept a laser focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs” that left environmentalists wondering if anyone still cares about the condition of the planet. A remarkable photo essay in the Daily Mail puts the need for economic development versus the preservation of wild places in high relief. Aerial photos of the mining of tar sands in northern Alberta – the world’s third-largest oil reserve – reveal how a landscape of what was once lush green forests, an area larger than England, is being turned into an oily, nightmarish desert.

Boreal forest in Canada is disappearing at a rate second only to that of the deforestation of the Amazon. The operation provides thousands of jobs, huge tax revenues for Canada, and a potential oil supply for the United States from a friendly neighbor. But the photos are a reminder to those who live far from this strip mining of what is being lost. “The tar sands should be classified as an act of ecocide and rendered illegal under international law. This is, in effect, a crime against humanity,” argues one environmentalist.

Where is the environmental proof?
Environmentalists decry how climate change skeptics ignore or try to discredit copious scientific evidence indicating that human-induced climate change is taking place. But environmentalist Fred Pearce says that on other issues the environmental movement needs to make sure it isn’t itself turning a blind eye to scientific evidence.

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