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Canada's climate wars

Chris Turner's new book is a thorough account of how Alberta's oil sands became one of the energy world's hottest properties—and its most controversial

Preston McEachern, a water scientist for Alberta's government, had a startling metaphor. The oil sands had become "the harp seal of the environmental movement", he told me in 2011, at the height of their notoriety—the easiest, softest target to kill. Anyone who's seen them would know why the projects divide opinion. They make for a huge, ugly fume-belching scar on the landscape—a monumental example of humanity's exploitation of the earth's resources. Or, to the petroleum engineer, a true feat of development and progress, drawing the world's economic lifeblood from a remote landscape. Either way, McEarchern was right—they're easy to pick on. You can visit the oil sands: rent a car and drive

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