Tar Sands Are The Coolest!

from Wildlife Promise

Hey kids! Want to learn about fossil fuels while racing around Canada on your gnarly snowboard? Pow! Zap! Now you can, with the latest incredible scam iPhone game from Syncrude Canada:

Image: Syncrude Canada

Shred the slopes at Vista Ridge. Zip through the forests and wetlands at Gateway Hill on your bike. Soar over Wood Buffalo on a hang glider – but watch out for those tall trees! Three games, endless fun! Get Syncrude’s Trail Blazer now! Play, learn and explore Wood Buffalo, Alberta with three high-octane games where you play Syncrude Canada’s über-cool mascot, the Wood Bison. Collect as many coins as you can along the way, and you could find yourself at the top of the leaderboard.

I wish I was making this up, but that’s a screenshot and promo from “Trail Blazer,” a new game that Syncrude (one of the the world’s biggest tar sands companies) hopes will brainwash kids into thinking that oil is totally dope, or fresh, or baller, or whatever word people use for “awesome” nowadays.

Look at all those fresh green trees and pristine snow! We must’ve had it wrong all this time — apparently, the tar sands region looks a lot like Aspen, Colorado instead of the mining colony from Avatar. So, just to make sure I wasn’t getting Alberta mixed up with some other place, I double-checked and…oh, wait a sec…here’s a photo of what it really looks like:

Photo: Peter Essick

That’s the “Millennium” tar sands mine, right outside of Fort McMurray. And here’s Syncrude’s refining complex nearby:

If you look closely, you can see a bison in a red coat skydiving into one of the totally rad (but toxic) tailings ponds, where Syncrude stores all of the annoying carcinogenic waste left over from its mining and refining. I don’t spot any trees but that’s probably because Syncrude chopped them all down to make it easier for their mascot to do BMX stunts on his way to the next level.

Image: Syncrude Canada

Actually, there’s one shred of truth in the game description: “Collect as many coins as you can along the way, and you could find yourself at the top of the leaderboard.” Replace “leaderboard” with “corporate ladder” and you’ve got the real reason Syncrude bothers with games like this — they make people forget that tar sands mining is a crime against nature, so oil companies can go ahead and destroy the landscape and make a boatload of money.

If you want to find out what’s really happening to Canada’s wildlife, a slick game is the last place to start. There’s a name for this kind of thing–it’s called “greenwashing” and it basically means pretending to be eco-friendly while doing the exact opposite in real life. This is hardly the first time the industry used pretty graphics to lie to the public (remember Enbridge, Inc’s fake map?) but it’s in the running for “Sleaziest Advertising of 2012.”

Felice Stadler, NWF’s director of energy campaigns, visited Alberta a while ago to tour the tar sands region — I still remember how shaken she was when she came back — and her reaction to seeing the game was bitter:

Believe me, there are no trees after Syncrude has paid a visit to the boreal forest.

But there’s more at stake than trees and wolves. We just re-elected a president who says he’s committed to battling climate change–the most dangerous threat to our planet’s future and the survival of people and wildlife everywhere. Now, he has a chance to prove it by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would speed up development of the tar sands and light the fuse of the world’s biggest carbon bomb, but so far the White House has sent mixed signals about its intentions. Hurricane Sandy was a harsh reminder of what happens when that carbon bomb explodes, and Americans need President Obama and Congress to draw a line in the sand and say “NO!” to KXL and projects like it.


Take ActionMake your voice heard! Tell the White House to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and prevent climate catastrophe.