January 08, 2012

A Sand By Any Other Name Would Still Stick Swell

My mother, as a recent Albertan Chemistry graduate in the 1950s, published research on petroleum extraction from what back then was unhesitatingly referred to as the Tar Sands. If you’ve seen that shit, what is technically and politely referred to as Bitumen, you’ll understand the usage. Hint: Don’t step in it if you value your footwear.

Since then, in an effort to turn black sticky sand into clean refreshing profits, there’s been a furious re-branding in favor of “oil” not “tar”, ignoring what it looks like when it’s in the ground. In practice, this means that when anyone uses the term “oil sands” you can safely assume they’re in the pay of the pipeline promoters.

— Tim Bray, ongoing.

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