Brave New World

October 27, 2012

Book Cliffs, Utah

A state panel gave a key approval Wednesday to start a tar sands mine in Utah’s wild Book Cliffs in eastern Utah.

After hearing from the company behind the project, Alberta-based U.S. Oil Sands, as well as the group that appealed the initial project approval, Moab-based Living Rivers, board members voted 9-2 to uphold the state’s previous OK of the project, the nation’s first fuel producing tar-sands mine.

Athabasca Oil Sands

The Athabasca oil sands or Athabasca tar sands are large deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada – roughly centred on the boomtown of Fort McMurray. These oil sands, hosted in the McMurray Formation, consist of a mixture of crude bitumen (a semi-solid form of crude oil), silica sand, clay minerals, and water. The Athabasca deposit is the largest known reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of three major oil sands deposits in Alberta, along with the nearby Peace River and Cold Lake deposits


Satellite image of Athabasca Tar Sands Operation

An Athabasca Boreal Forest

Tight Oil

Tight oil (also known as light tight oil, abbreviated LTO) is a Petroleum play that consists of light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of relatively low porosity and permeability (shales).[1] It uses the same horizontal well and hydraulic fracturing technology used in recent boom in production of shale gas. It should not be confused with oil shale and shale oil as it differs by the API gravity and viscosity of the fluids, as well as the method of extraction.[2]

Tight oil formations include the Bakken Shale, the Niobrara Formation, Barnett Shale, and the Eagle Ford Shale in the United States, R’Mah Formation in Syria, Sargelu Formation in the northern Persian Gulf region, Athel Formation in Oman, Bazhenov Formation and Achimov Formation in Russia, and Chicontepec Formation in Mexico.[1]

According to North Dakota government statistics, daily oil production per well seems to have peaked (or at least reached a plateau) at 145 barrels in June 2010.[27] Although the number of wells doubled between June 2010 and December 2011, oil production per well remains essentially unchanged. However, total oil produced continues to increase, as more wells are brought online.

Shale Gas

Oil Shale

Oil shale, also known as kerogen shale, is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil (not to be confused with tight oilcrude oil occurring naturally in shales) can be produced. Shale oil is a substitute for conventional crude oil; however, extracting shale oil from oil shale is more costly than the production of conventional crude oil both financially and in terms of its environmental impact.

Mountain top removal mining

Peer-reviewed studies show that mountaintop mining has serious environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity and toxification of watersheds, that mitigation practices cannot successfully address.[6] There are also adverse human health impacts which result from contact with affected streams or exposure to airborne toxins and dust.[6]

Mountain top mining site

Reclaimed (?) mining site

Satellite image – Hobet, WV 1984

Hobet Mountaintop mine, 2009

And the effects of burning these expensive, hard to extract fossil fuels?

Climate Change


     Gas Preindustrial level
[citation needed]
Current level
[citation needed]
Increase since 1750
[citation needed]
Radiative forcing (W/m2)
[citation needed]
Carbon dioxide 280 ppm  396 ppm 116 ppm 1.46
Methane 700 ppb 1745 ppb 1045 ppb  0.48
Nitrous oxide 270 ppb  314 ppb  44 ppb 0.15
CFC-12 0  533 ppt 533 ppt 0.17

Carbon Increase 250 years

Top: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as measured in the atmosphere and reflected in ice cores. Bottom: The amount of net carbon increase in the atmosphere, compared to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel.

Climate change contributed to a fivefold increase in weather-related natural disasters in North America over the past three decades, according to Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer.

“Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America,” Peter Hoeppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, told reporters in Munich today. There was a four-fold gain in disasters in Asia, while the number doubled in Europe, the reinsurer said.

Major wildfires in US last 14 years


2012 Drought in US

Flooding from hurricane Irene


And for all our friends and loved ones along the east coast of the US for the next several days, please be careful out there.

NWS infrared satellite image of US NE coast today
October 27, 2012

Increasingly, this will be our new reality.  Welcome to the REAL new world order.  Welcome to our brave, new world.


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