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Task 2

Aufgaben
Download als Dokument:PDF
1.
Describe in what way the oil sands boom in Canada's Alberta province is seen as a "two-edged" sword.
2.
Analyse the means and strategies the author employs to present the negative impact of the oil sands boom.
3.
As a host student of th University of Toronto you attend the Hart House Debating Club. Today's task is to defend the further extraction of oil sands in Alberta in front of your fellow students.
Write the script for the speech also taking into account your background knowledge.
#environmentalproblems#speech#analysis#zentraleraufgabenpool#description
Text 2
$\;$
In Canada's Alberta province, oil sands boom is a two-edged sword
The oil sands industry has brought good jobs to villages such as Fort Chipewyan. But there is fear about cancer and the environment.
Fort Chipewyan, Canada - In the Cree[1] language, the word "athabasca" means "a place where grass is everywhere." Here in Alberta, the Athabasca River slices through forests of spruce
5
and birch before spilling into a vast freshwater delta and Lake Athabasca.
But 100 miles upstream, the boreal forest has been peeled back by enormous strip mines[2], where massive shovels pick up 100 tons of earth at a time and dump it into yellow trucks as big as houses.
The tarry bitumen that is extracted is eventually shipped to refineries, many in the United States,
10
to be processed into gasoline, diesel and other fuels. But the leftover polluted slurry remains in miles-long impoundments, some high above the banks of the river. Air cannons sound periodically to keep migratory birds from landing on the toxic ponds.
Oil sands production, as the procedure is called, is booming in northeastern Alberta. […]
Debate in the U.S. over the pipeline has largely focused on whether the oil sands would
15
contribute to climate change, or spill along the route. But in northeastern Alberta, the effect of the oil sands industry plays out in more complicated ways.
Oil sands are exploited by injecting high-pressure steam into the earth or by strip mining to extract the sticky bitumen, which is then washed away from clay and sand, swiftly heated and diluted with the chemicals before being shipped to refineries.
20
The petroleum industry has funneled billions of dollars into Canada's national, provincial and local economies and employs thousands of people in places with few other jobs. But the oil sands boom may also be polluting the air and water, and is stoking fear that it is damaging the health of those in its arc.
"From everything I hear from the indigenous people, their thinking seem to be 'It's a choice
25
between whether we starve to death or are poisoned to death,'" said Dr. John O'Connor, a general practitioner who has worked here since 1993.
In Fort Chipewyan, a village of 1,100 people on the north shore of Lake Athabasca, cancer and autoimmune diseases such as lupus have taken a heavy toll on its mostly indigenous Cree, Dene[3] and Metis[4] population during the last 20 years. In 2009, the provincial government
30
found that cancer rates here over a 12-year period were 30% higher than normal for such a small community (51 cancers in 47 individuals versus an expected 39 cancers).
Three weeks ago, government scientists told villagers that they had found high levels of mercury, a hazardous substance, in the eggs of migratory birds that nest downstream from oil sands production. Fishermen say pickerel[5] and northern pike in the lake show bulging eyes
35
and other deformities.
Three studies by independent scientists have shown rising concentrations of pollutants, including carcinogens, in waterways near Alberta's oil sands production.
Industry officials and the Alberta government have long insisted that the chemicals detected in area waterways are naturally occurring, not the result of pollution.
40
They also say they are taking full safety precautions to protect communities tucked into a vast wilderness. Some of the indigenous people, known as the First Nations, have hunted and fished here for thousands of years.
The oil industry is funding a government-run system to monitor possible pollution. Reclamation efforts, meanwhile, can take years, if not decades. Of the thousands of acres mined during 40
45
years of oil sands extraction in Alberta, only 247 acres have been restored to land resembling unmined areas.
"We will be here another 50 to 60 years," said Greg Stringham, vice president for oil sands for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "We're very supportive of looking at the cumulative effect of what we do."
50
Canada already is the largest exporter of crude to the United States, mostly from oil sands. Officials hope to increase production by 2030 to about 5 million barrels a day from the current 1.9 million barrels. Many of the world's biggest oil companies hold leases to develop oil sands along the Athabasca River and other parts of eastern Alberta. Syncrude[6], Suncor[6] and Shell[6] already operate upstream from Fort Chipewyan.
55
The Keystone XL pipeline, the most efficient way to ship oil, is crucial to the effort. Some local residents fear the pipeline would accelerate development of the oil sands and create additional pollution.
Beginning in the 1990s, says 71-year-old commercial fisherman "Big Ray" Ladouceur, he began catching fish with deformities from Lake Athabasca. The cause is unknown, but three peer-
60
reviewed studies by university researches since 2009 have sounded warnings about water pollution linked to oil sands development in Alberta.
Banerjee, Neela: In Canada's Alberta province, oil sands boom is a two-edged sword. http://articles.latimes.com (25.11.2015)


[1] Cree: a Native American people, many of whom live in central Canada
[2] strip mines: mines in which the process of digging happens on the surface
[3] Dene: tribes that occupy the western subarctic region of Canada includes such groups as the Chipewyan and Tutchone
[4] Metis: a person with one Aboriginal parent and one European parent
[5] pickerel: a type of fish commonly found in North America
[6] Syncrude, Suncor, Shell: large international oil companies
#article
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Describe benefits and dangers
  • two-edged sword means that a benefit carries some significant but not-so-obvious costs or risks
  • brings some advantages on economic levels
  • growing exports of bitumen to the U.S. strengthens the economic relationship to the U.S. and generates higher financial resources for Canada's industry
  • the bitumen will be processed into gasoline, diesel and other fuels - raw material that humanity will always be in need of
  • growth of oil sands seems infite
  • many of the top players in the oil sands industry have settled in eastern Alberta
  • the industry has brought billions of dollars into Canada's economy
  • creates jobs for thousands of people in areas whith few other jobs
  • Extracting the bitumen results in leftover polluted mud that is found in large pools of water
  • poisonous water basins are lethal for the environment
  • possible pipelines connecting Canada with the U.S. might be leaking and hence transferring the pollution to the U.S.
  • pollutants like carcinogen have been found in various waterways
  • oil sands production is said to contribute negatively to climate change
  • autoimmune diseases and cancer have affected the habitants of a small village close to the oil sands production site
  • Fish in closeby lakes have shown deformities and eggs of migratory birds contain high levels of mercury
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyze the means
  • very beginning of the article shows a stark contrast $\rightarrow$ oil sands industry has brought a lot of jobs to the area and at the same time the industry causes "fear about cancer and the environment" (l. 2)
  • "athabasca" - which is also the name of the river that flows through Alberta - means "a place where grass is everywhere" (l. 3-4)
    $\rightarrow$ juxtaposes that picture of lush meadows and crystal clear rivers with the image of a wasteland where strip mines and trucks rule
    $\rightarrow$ wants to show the reader how the province Alberta could look like with its rivers and atmospheric landscapes were it not for the oil sands industry
    $\rightarrow$ uses words with positive connotations for the environment like "vast freshwater delta" (l. 5) or "forests of spruce and birch" in order to emphasize the fact
  • various eye witness statements, scientific reports and quotations can be found which support her seemingly objective position
  • not really objective - all of the benefits she mentions have a negative side aspect
    $\rightarrow$ petroleum industry creates jobs but "pollutes the air [and] is damaging the health of those in its arc" (l. 22-23)
    $\rightarrow$ government tries to "monitor possible pollution" (l. 43) but it would take decades to reverse the effects of oil sands production
  • starts with presenting the reader with poor economic benefits whereas she ends the article with rather strong arguments against oil sands production - in fact she is talking about environmental destruction
  • argumentation is supported by direct quotations and examples of average people that bring her closer to the reader
    $\rightarrow$ fisherman who caught fish with deformities ever since the 1990s is just one example of many for that (l. 58)
  • oil sands industry can be held responsible for that is verified by diverse studies (l. 59-60)
  • indigenous people are hit hard by oil sands production as well
    $\rightarrow$ resources like forests for hunting have been taken away from them and they suffer from cancer and autoimmune diseases (l. 27-28)
    $\rightarrow$ "it's a choice between whether [they] starve to death or are poisoned to death" (l. 24-25)
$\blacktriangleright$  Write a speech
  • oil sands have made Canada the Number One foreign supplier of oil to the US
    $\rightarrow$ major factor in the close economic partnership between US and Canada
  • relatively secure source of energy
    $\rightarrow$ although oil supply isn’t unlimited, Canadian reserves are the second-largest on the planet
  • massive economic growth in Alberta
    $\rightarrow$ Alberta oil sands continue to generate huge profits and provide thousands of jobs
    $\rightarrow$ jobs are high-quality due to far better wages, 60% more than the average for all industries
    $\rightarrow$ jobs for Native Americans
  • producers in the area are moving forward with expansions
    $\rightarrow$ operators increase production constantly
  • oil sands mining operations involves clearing trees, brush, topsoil, sand and clay that sit on top of the oil sands deposit
    $\rightarrow$ steps are being taken to mitigate the effect this has on local animal species
    $\rightarrow$ topsoil and muskeg are stockpiled so they can be replaced and the rest of the material is used to reconstruct the landscape
  • stable source country (a rarity for oil)
    $\rightarrow$ Canada's national prosperity depends on oil sand industry's access to new markets (Asia)
    $\rightarrow$ strategic importance: 36% of American oil could be coming from Canadian soil by 2030
    $\rightarrow$ Chinese investors find this resource attracitve, low political risk
  • GHG emissions could potentially be minimized through CCS (carbon dioxide capture and storage)
  • enormous growth potential
    $\rightarrow$ less than 5 percent has been produced
    $\rightarrow$ will help keep oil prices relatively low
  • very large supply
    $\rightarrow$ second largest oil field in the world.
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Describe benefits and dangers
The text "In Canada's Alberta province, oil sands boom is a two-edged sword" focuses on the various benefits, but also on the possible dangers of the oil sands boom in the Canadian province Alberta. The title already refers to the oil sands production as a double-edged sword - that metaphor means that a benefit carries some significant but not-so-obvious costs or risks.
When concentrating on the benefits of the oil sands boom, the article makes it pretty clear that this industry brings some advantages on economic levels. First of all, growing exports of bitumen to the U.S. strengthens the economic relationship to the U.S. and generates higher financial resources for Canada's industry. Furthermore, the bitumen will be processed into gasoline, diesel and other fuels - raw material that humanity will always be in need of. That the growth of oil sands seems infite contributes to that fact and is another advantage. Additionally, many of the top players in the oil sands industry have settled in eastern Alberta, for example Syncrude, Suncor or Shell. This supports the fact that the industry has brought billions of dollars into Canada's economy and meanwhile creates jobs for thousands of people in areas whith few other jobs.
Main Part
benefits
Despite all these benefits, there is always the other side of the coin. Extracting the bitumen results in leftover polluted mud that is found in large pools of water. These poisonous water basins are lethal for the environment. People are also afraid that possible pipelines connecting Canada with the U.S. might be leaking and hence transferring the pollution to the U.S. as well. Moreover, pollutants like carcinogen have been found in various waterways - those might spread the pollutants all over the American continent. In addition, oil sands production is said to contribute negatively to climate change. It causes not only dangerous effects for humankind but for animals as well. During the last 20 years, autoimmune diseases and cancer have affected the habitants of a small village close to the oil sands production site. Fish in closeby lakes have shown deformities and eggs of migratory birds contain high levels of mercury.
In conclusion, the dangers of oil sands boom outweigh its benefits. Of course, exploiting fossil fuels is a rather cheap way to produce raw material like diesel and it is definitely beneficial for strenthening economical relationship between countries. However, it causes tremendous economical pollution and creates diseases like cancer on the long run.
Conclusion
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyse the means
Both the article "In Canada's Alberta province, oil sands boom is a two-edged sword" and the picture published with it serve the author Neela Banerjee to broadcast her view on the oil sands boom in Canada. Her standpoint might not seem obvious at first but looking closer at the text and the picture, it is made clear that she stands not in favor of the oil sands production.
The very beginning of the article shows a stark contrast. The author starts by how the oil sands industry has brought a lot of jobs to the area and at the same time, she explains that the industry causes "fear about cancer and the environment" (l. 2). Then again, she states that the word "athabasca" - which is also the name of the river that flows through Alberta - means "a place where grass is everywhere" (l. 3-4). One sentence later, she juxtaposes that picture of lush meadows and crystal clear rivers with the image of a wasteland where strip mines and trucks rule. Banerjee wants to show the reader how the province Alberta could look like with its rivers and atmospheric landscapes were it not for the oil sands industry. In order to emphasize this, she uses words with positive connotations for the environment like "vast freshwater delta" (l. 5) or "forests of spruce and birch" (l. 4).
Main Part
contrasts
Throughout the article, various eye witness statements, scientific reports and quotations can be found which support her seemingly objective position. Yet, she is not really objective - all of the benefits she mentions have a negative side aspect. Hence, the petroleum industry creates jobs but "pollutes the air [and] is damaging the health of those in its arc" (l. 22-23). Furthermore, the government tries to "monitor possible pollution" (l. 43) but it would take decades to reverse the effects of oil sands production according to Banerjee. Basically, she starts with presenting the reader with poor economic benefits whereas she ends the article with rather strong arguments against oil sands production - in fact she is talking about environmental destruction. Therefore, her choice and the sequence of of aspects and quotations have influence on the reader.
Her argumentation is supported by direct quotations and examples of average people that bring her closer to the reader. The fisherman who caught fish with deformities ever since the 1990s is just one example of many for that (l. 58). That the oil sands industry can be held responsible for that is verified by diverse studies (l. 59-60). The indigenous people are hit hard by oil sands production as well. Resources like forests for hunting have been taken away from them and they suffer from cancer and autoimmune diseases (l. 27-28) - for them "it's a choice between whether [they] starve to death or are poisoned to death" (l. 24-25) says Dr. John O'Connor who works at one of the villages.
means
quotations/reports/eye witness statements
The author Neela Banerjee has used a lot of stylistic devices in order to convince the reader of her attitude towards the oil sands boom in Canada. Of course, she would mention the benefits of that boom only to destroy them with various means such as quotations or studies. Those convince the reader to believe her and to assume the same attitude as Banerjee's.
$\blacktriangleright$  Write a speech
"Dear listeners,
pure evil has finally reached Canada and it has a name: the oil sands boom. But have you ever wondered, where Canada's wealth comes from? Where Canada's people work? Why we rank the 20th richest country on earth? Why we place under the top 10 countries with the greatest oil deposit? And do you really think that this is oh so bad for our economy? Let me convince you of the opposite!
Introduction
First of all - think about it - oil sands have made Canada the Number One foreign supplier of oil to the US and this is a major factor in the close economic partnership between the US and Canada. And guess what? This puts us in a superiour position since it is us who can stop that partnership in case we ever needed to. Also, the oil sands industry generates massive economic growth in Alberta for instance. The oil sands there continue to produce huge profits and provide the people there with thousands of jobs. If not for that industry, those people would be unemployed with little chance to take care of their families. Those jobs are in addition of high quality due to far better wages - actually 60% more than the average for all industries.
And if you now think that the oil sands supply must be limited and that because of that the employment might end abruptly, than you are completely off track. Oil sands are a relatively secure source of energy and although you might be right in that the oil supply isn't unlimited, the Canadian reserves are the second-largest on planet earth. Moreover, producers in the area are moving forward with expansions, meaning that the operators increase the production constantly. The producers also see an enormous growth potential since less than 5% of the oil sands have been produced. On the long run, this will help keep oil prices relatively low.
Now listen all of you environmentalists: you might wonder what will happen to all those little animals when the oil sands mines are established. Guess what, pretty much nothing! Of course, oil sands mining operations involves clearing trees, brush, topsoil, sand and clay that sit on top of the oil sands deposit. But don't worry: steps are being taken to mitigate the effect this has on local animal species. The topsoil and muskeg are stockpiled so they can be replaced and the rest of the material is used to reconstruct the landscape for instance. Moreover, we should be proud that we are a stable source country which is a rarity with regard to oil supplies - just look at Iran, Iraque and Russia! And Canada's national prosperity depends on the oil sands industry's access to new markets in Asia for example. Chinese investors find this resource very attractive due to its low political risk. The industry is also of strategic importance since 36% of Ameircan oil could be coming from Canadian soil by 2030.
Main Part
Pros
So, remember all the things I have told you today when you are busy looking for a job or combatting the oil sands industry. An industry with great potential and opportunities - and NOT a polluter!"
Conclusion
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