APTN National News
American science educator Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is in northern Alberta filming a climate change show.
Nye visited the tar sands and after taking an aerial tour of the mining areas told APTN National News it was a “depressive” sight to see.
“Producing all this oil that’s producing all this carbon dioxide, that’s not good from a global stand point,” said Nye.
“And from an environmental point of view locally, it’s astonishing and overwhelming.”
He went on to say that it’s difficult to describe witnessing the scale of industrial activity that is taking place and that he was “amazed” at the size of production happening in the tar sands, and the damage it is causing.
“Furthermore consider all the toxins that are being used to move the fluid around and then they put in these enormous ponds, or lakes, or encampments,” he said. “It’s very much out of nature’s natural state.”
Nye visited the community of Fort McKay First Nation Monday. Fort McKay is encamped by tar sands activity and has suffered the consequences of environmental damages over the many decades since the tar sands were discovered in their traditional territories.
He said after learning of the community’s history and relationship with industry he thinks Fort McKay still has a battle ahead of them.
“I think anybody would say that First Nations have rights that have been abridged or catastrophically curtailed,” said Nye.
However, he added that Indigenous people can have an impact on climate change if their treaties are held up to law.
While in Fort McMurray, Nye noticed the local news headlines regarding the province’s grim financial situation and rising unemployment. The new Alberta NDP government provided its first fiscal update today revealing a deficit of almost $6 billion and growing.
He called it the “boom and bust of oil.”
Nye said hope for the environment may lie in the upcoming Canadian federal election and said “everybody is talking about the very strong possibility” that the Harper government will be voted out.
If that were to happen, new leaders with different views and values regarding the environment would be helpful to address the climate change issue, he said.
“Everybody says they feel like the tipping point’s been reached. Everyone we speak with, where enough is enough kind of thing. But then you have people that are in denial of climate change, who justify all of this extraordinary exploitation to the environment,” he said. “It’s amazing the scale of it, is just very hard to believe and very troubling.”
Nye is one of a growing number of celebrity big names that have visited the Alberta oil sands in recent years others have included actor Leonardo DiCaprio, singer/songwriter Neil Young and South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu.
Nye is working with National Geographic filming a show for their Explorer series scheduled to air in November.