The most pressing environmental issue facing Western Canada today

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  1. topic is “In your opinion, what is the most pressing environmental issue facing Western Canada today? What actions would you recommend be taken to address the issue you identify?

the answer is no longer than 450 words (not including reference) and need at least three reference.

  1. and write a response should be no longer than 300 words(not including reference) and need at least three reference.

Over the last few decades, environmental issues for Canada have become an increasing concern due to the fact that humans, wildlife and the climate are being negatively affected. Western Canada is currently facing many environmental problems, but in my opinion the most pressing of these issues is the oil sands in Alberta. Western Canada’s oil sands are a naturally occurring mixture of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, and are the third largest proven oil reserves in the world (Natural Resources Canada, 2019). Since this is the case, there is many drawbacks that the environment has to face as a result. Oil sands prove to be Canada’s largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, meaning that the oil industry is the most carbon intensive industry (The Narwhal, 2019). This demonstrates how oil sands can negatively impact the environment in Canada.

One of the reasons on why Western Canada’s oil sands can be considered a pressing environmental issue is because of the way the climate is directly impacted by greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are the gases that are in the earth’s atmosphere that help determine the average surface temperature on earth, and over time these emissions from the oil sands have quadrupled from 1990 to 2012 (McWhinney, 2014). This means that these emissions have contributed to global warming as well as the rise of the temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere, known as the greenhouse effect. Oil sands also affect the environment through impacting water and air quality. An immense amount of water is used for the extraction of bitumen from oil sands, which is why water use is of great concern when dealing with oil sands (Donev, 2019). The problem with this amount of water use is only a small amount of water can be recycled and returned to the natural water cycle. Lastly, the air quality is affected because oil sands developments release air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere (McWhinney, 2014). Pollutants such as these can have harmful side effects on the environment as well on human health.

The actions that I would recommend be taken to address the environmental concerns about oil sands is an increase in support from the government of Canada to reduce the environmental footprint caused by oil sands. The government of Canada supports the innovation for oil sands by investing $200M into research and development (Natural Resources Canada, 2019). I believe that the oil sand industry can take steps forward to becoming more environmentally friendly and efficient, if the government continues to increase their funding. I also think that the government should continue to cap oil sand emissions, by implementing a specific output-based allocation approach. This approach will ensure oil sand companies have a $30/tonne carbon price which will encourage reduced emissions and carbon competitiveness (Government of Alberta, 2019). With a new approach such as this, past intensity levels of production from oil sands will no longer be accepted, benefiting the environment in the long run.

In conclusion, oil sands in Western Canada prove to be causing environmental problems by emitting greenhouse gases, and negatively impacting water use and air quality. With increasing help from the government by setting in place new initiatives, Western Canada could reduce overall emissions that are produced by oil sands, which will help sustain Canadians’ health and their environment in the future.

References:

Donev, J. (2019, January 4). Environmental impacts of oil sands. Retrieved from https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Environmental_impacts_of_oil_sands.

Government of Alberta. (2019). Capping oil sands emissions. Retrieved from https://www.alberta.ca/climate-oilsands-emissions.aspx.

McWhinney, R. (2014, July). Oil Sands Environmental Impacts. Retrieved from: https://ceri.ca/assets/files/Study_143_Full_Report…

Natural Resources Canada (2019, March 25). What are the oil sands? Retrieved from sands/18089.

The Narwhal. (2019, November 8). Environmental Issues in Canada. Retrieved from https://thenarwhal.ca/topics/environmental-issues-canada/.

 

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