With oil prices remaining strong Canada's production will continue to rise. The National Energy Board is now forecasting the tripling of oil production from Alberta's oil sands by 2015, with massive impacts in store for climate and the Canadian environment.
With an estimated 180 billion barrels of recoverable crude, Canada is second only to Saudi Arabia in known reserves, and this is only the beginning. In total, Canada's reserves are closer to 1.7 trillion barrels in volume, with 180 billion barrels recoverable with current technology and market prices. If better technology becomes available, or commodity prices continue to rise, Canada may become the world's primary supplier of crude. However, the toll on the environment could be catastrophic.
According to the industry itself, each barrel recovered requires two to five barrels of water, carves up four tons of earth and uses enough natural gas to heat a home for between one and five days.
The resulting impact is a moonscape of open pit mines, polluted air and degraded water, with the physical scars of current projects clearly visible from space.
For a better perspective on the environmental costs of these projects visit google maps and search for "Fort McMurray, Alberta". In the satellite map you can clearly see the major developments just north of the city.