Garth Lenz is a photographer who created the exhibition The True Cost of Oil. His shocking photos capture the environmental devastation of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project and have become a pivotal part of the resistance against Alberta Tar Sands mining.
The Canadian boreal forest houses the largest oil reserves in the world outside of Saudi Arabia. These reserves contain vast amounts of the tar-like substance bitumen. To harvest the bitumen, there are two methods. The first is mining. There are ten mines so far in the Alberta Tar Sands, and each mine is huge - one mine is compared to a large metropolitan area in size.
The next method is called the "in situ," which involves the heating and pumping of colossal amounts of water underground through a tunnel-like network system. Both of these methods are incredibly damaging to the environment, partly because this type of oil - bitumen - is called the world's dirtiest oil. This type of oil required more water than any other oil process.
One of the most devastating ecological effects of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project is how it has affected the food chain of the people who live in the area - namely remote Northern aboriginal communities. It's too expensive to fly food into the area, so these people are forced to hunt and fish in order to survive. The fish are carcinogenic due to all the toxic byproduct waste deposited into unlined "tailings ponds" (more aptly called wastelands), which has led to cancer rates in the region to rise to up to 10 times higher than the average in the rest of Canada.