More Astounding Footage from Alberta

May 4, 2016

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14 Responses to “More Astounding Footage from Alberta”

  1. indy222 Says:

    As we sow, so shall we reap, it seems. A little superstition might do good in that god-forsaken town. Take it as a sign, Ft McMurray’ns!

  2. Sir Charles Says:

    Fort McMurray evacuated during massive wildfire

    One of the threats most clearly identified with climate change in high latitudes—bigger, hotter, earlier forest fires—came home to tens of thousands of households in Canada’s tar sands/oil sands capital Tuesday, as authorities ordered all 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray to evacuate in the face of out-of-control flames.

    The full evacuation order came Tuesday at 6:20 PM local time. By then, CBC was reporting that the fire had reached the downtown core, and Fort McMurray’s hospital was evacuating all its patients by bus, critical cases first.

    “All of Fort McMurray is now wondering if they will have homes to return to, as the fire that started Sunday quickly overwhelmed firefighters and the city’s resources,” the Edmonton Journal reported last night. As evacuees headed south, they “saw much of their city on fire. The immolation of the Centennial Trailer Park was nearly complete, with the flames stripping all that was flammable off the metal skeletons of mobile homes and vehicles.”

    And “tomorrow [is] expected to be a more intense burning day,” according to a Tuesday evening tweet from Global News Calgary, citing Alberta’s assistant deputy minister of forestry.

    “It’s apocalyptic,” said Dr. John Connor, a local family physician who has treated patients with health problems in Fort McMurray and Fort McKay related to tar sands/oil sands pollution. “The place looks like it’s all going,” he told the National Observer, adding that local residents breathing ash-filled air faced serious health risks.


  3. This thought just occurred to me. That region is a tar sand region. Now that this fire has burned the arboreal forest which overlays the tar sands, the companies that mine the tar sands will have an easier time making the case to widen their practices. I bet they won’t even give the forest time to recover, and are already chomping at the bits and making plans to exploit the tragedy.

    • neilrieck Says:

      What if the tar catches fire?

      • otter17 Says:

        I was wondering this myself, if the possibility existed that such a fire could spread similarly to a coal seam fire. Might have to look if any geologists or combustion scientists have weighed in on the idea.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          “In their natural state, the oil sands themselves aren’t particularly flammable. Bitumen has the consistency of molasses at room temperature, and is mixed with sand, making it burn at a slower pace if ignited (plus, 80 per cent of it is buried deep underground)”.

          http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/could-the-oil-sands-catch-fire/

          Another commentary from someone who seems knowledgeable.

          “The answer is sort of yes and no, depending on where the bitumen is.

          Fires in the boreal forest are a normal part of the forest cycle. And the current events at Ft McMurray bear out several typical features of these fires: they get huge, they come in quick, they burn themselves out (in a given spot) relatively fast and they are driven by the wind.

          What happens to bitumen in these circumstances is really a function of where it is. Surficial bitumen is fair game for a good burning, whether natural bitumen in an oil seep or man-made bitumen-related products such as asphalt and tarred roof-tiles. Being at the surface, they can be exposed to open flames and have access to oxygen. Those will burn.

          But northern forest fires are essentially surficial processes, they do not burn deep. They might smolder for a couple of days a few inches under ground as embers work their way along spruce and jack-pine roots once the worst is past, for instance, but they will not go at depth. That’s because contact with naked flame, access to wind and access to abundant replenishable free-oxygen are limited at depth. Northern soils are often made of poorly sorted glacial material (till) which will not allow air (let alone fire) to pass through easily. The water table also limits how far the fire can reach. So as long as bitumen stays under ground, it is pretty much sheltered from the effects of such fires. Consider current reserves in the Athabasca Basin, given the countless cycles of forest fire which have happened over the centuries, they would be severely depleted if they were vulnerable to such fires.”

          (Someone else added that the molecules in bitumen are complex and do not burn easily)

          • otter17 Says:

            Ah, well much thanks. I was just about to take a couple minutes this evening to look into the matter. So, it sounds like the surface infrastructure would be at risk, but there doesn’t exist similar conditions to coal seam type fires starting. It also seems like it would be difficult for the tailing ponds to light up.


    • No doubt some company executives are convinced that the real problem has been the environmentalists. If tar sands development had gone ahead full speed the landscape would have had the prestine look of the surface of the moon. No forests, no forest fires. Mining would continue uninterrupted.


  4. A little compassion might be in order here. We are talking about people – men, women, children – human beings, just like you.
    And yes, these people might be contributing to climate change more than most, but don’t forget that for the most part these are simply people trying to feed, house and look after their families the only way they can.
    If you want to vent some righteous indignation, do so, by all means. But aim it at the people who are making the profits in the government and fossil fuel industry, and at an economic system that encourages them.
    If you want to criticise any of these people, go ahead. But take a look at yourself first. Are you completely without sin? Does you life depend on cheap fossil fuels? Do you fill up your car with gas? Do you have electric lights in your house? Is the computer you use to read these posts run off a solar panel?
    There will be lots of time for post mortems in the future, but for right now, all efforts should be toward putting out the fires and minimising the human tragedy.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yes, a “little” compassion is in order here—-about the same amount as is given to those who build houses on the ocean side of the dunes on barrier islands in NC or NJ or on the banks of rivers in TX because “it’s so nice to have the water right there at your door”. These folks are human beings, yes, but they have made some poor choices (or haven’t even thought about it at all).

      “Aiming righteous indignation at the people who are making the profits in the government and fossil fuel industry, and at an economic system that encourages them” is closer to the mark—-and ALL of us who live in “modern societies” are ultimately to blame—-it’s simply a crap shoot as to which ones of us are going to be hammered next and pay the price for everyone’s “sins”.


    • Richard, you wrote,

      “Does you life depend on cheap fossil fuels? Do you fill up your car with gas? Do you have electric lights in your house? Is the computer you use to read these posts run off a solar panel?”

      I’ve read these same questions made by folks who support the fossil fuel industry more times than I can shake a stick at, in just as many online forums.

      In my opinion, the people there, the ones who are there raping the ecosystem there for a living, and to profit the energy companies that pay them to help rape that environment, have made their bed. They can sleep in it.

      Where the fire burned will recover fairly quickly, where the tar sand mining took place will require an eon to recover, if it does at all.


  5. A little compassion might be in order here. We are talking about people – men, women, children – human beings, just like you.
    And yes, these people might be contributing to climate change more than most, but don’t forget that for the most part these are simply people trying to feed, house and look after their families the only way they can.
    If you want to vent some righteous indignation, do so, by all means. But aim it at the people who are making the profits in the government and fossil fuel industry, and at an economic system that encourages them.
    If you want to criticise any of these people, go ahead. But take a look at yourself first. Are you completely without sin? Does you life depend on cheap fossil fuels? Do you fill up your car with gas? Do you have electric lights in your house? Is the computer you used to make your post run off a solar panel?


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