Tag Archives: calgary

An Oil Sands Tribe: I Like It

Earlier today, Jeremy Dietz, a Calgary-based professional communicator, shed light on a recent trend. His post, Shifting Sands?, talks about the emergence of an Oil Sands Tribe –  an online community of people that are progressively  adding their voices to the oil sands / tar sands rhetoric. An online space that has been dominated by the anti-oil sands / anti-tar sands faction for a while now.

Jeremy Dietz

The first indication (at least to me) that this online debate was evolving beyond its lopsidedness was when I scanned through the comments on an NRDC anti-oil sands blog post. I was amazed to find that the vast majority of the people lending their voice to the debate were not NRDC supporters, but were pro-oil sands readers. Furthermore, these comments severely out-numbered those of the anti-oil sands online community.

I like this idea. I like this idea of an Oil Sands Tribe so much, that I wish I had posted about it first. Kudos Jeremy, kudos. Looks like we’ve both been reading some Godin.

I place myself in this camp, in this tribe. Yet as with all tribes, there are differences on the individual level. Some of us in the tribe try to use reason and facts to prove points, and some of us don’t. I prefer to think of myself as belonging in the former.

Those of us that rely on reasonable arguments are starting to have an impact, we are asking questions and probing lines of thought. This is needed.

Rational, intelligent debate is needed on issues of importance, and the oil sands are definitely important. They do after all impact the things that make the world go round: the economy, the environment, the transportation-slash-production-slash-everything- we-base-our-society-on sectors are all impacted by this industry, this community, this tribe.

So go read Jeremy’s post, and then come and interact with the tribe. You don’t have to share the same point of view – in fact, considering how complex the issue is, I can guarantee that you don’t. Heck, we don’t even all agree – it’s a complicated, multi-faceted topic, and informed discussion is a good thing.


Myth Busting: Dare to Compare the Air

Downtown Fort McMurray - Courtesy of Gord McKenna

Downtown - courtesy of Gord McKenna

Once in a while, I’ll have someone assume that the air quality in Fort McMurray is terrible, due to the fact that we’re a resource-based town… so I quickly ask them to show me the data from their local air-monitoring stations so we can take a look at their own, home-grown air quality. I usually get a blank stare back. “Um, what? Maybe we could check the paper?”

Wood Buffalo Environmental Association

You see, whenever we want to see how our air is, we can go to the WBEA (Wood Buffalo Environmental Association) and check out what the nearest monitoring station has to say for itself. So for instance, as of 3:00 p.m. today, station #6 up in Timberlea was showing this data:

Parameter Hourly Average Guideline
SO2 1.00 ppb 172 ppb
TRS 0.15 ppb 10 ppb
NO 0.59 ppb
NO2 0.23 ppb 212 ppb
NOX 0.75 ppb
THC 2.33 ppm
O3 43.31 ppb 82 ppb
NH3 0.00 ppm 2 ppm
PM2.5 -0.50 ug/m3
Temp @ 2m 11.13 deg. C
Wind Speed @ 10m 13.06 km/h
Wind Dir. @ 10m 282.20 deg.

Air Quality Index

Now I’m not pretending to understand what that all means, but the “Air Quality Index” rating of 22 from that station shows me that the air it’s reporting fits into the highest rating possible of “Good” (a score of 1 to 25). And it changes every hour. Try that with your newspaper.

If I compare the average data, let’s take the really tiny particles in the air (Particulate Matter – PM2.5), of station #6 to some other stations around the province, I can see that we’re lower than all of the Calgary and Edmonton stations – and that’s just pointing out a few. In fact, that’s about as good as Genesee or Lethbridge. Check out the WBEA’s How Does Our Air Compare section if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, just one more thing you now know about Fort McMurray. If you keep coming back to read this blog, can you imagine what you’ll know in a year?