Ecocide Photography – Tar Sands and Destructive Beauty

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28 Responses to Ecocide Photography – Tar Sands and Destructive Beauty

  1. S Ritchie October 25, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    I hate all this sh*t about how the oil sands are so bad. I’m a photographer and pilot, I was flying into the oil sand regularly. Showing pictures of tail ponds and cut down tree’s and labelling it mass destruction is just such BS. You fail to mention all the efforts into how the companies are preserving the place, replantation etc… There is two side to all of these stories and let’s not forget that all the cameras and video production equipment that supports guy’s like Chase comes from petroleum. I love the environment as much as the next person but the oil sands is a huge project that supports families from the east to west coasts. Maybe start looking in your own backyard before criticizing your northern neighbour.

    • obama October 26, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      I bet ritchie is a romney supporter… outdated and misguided by his own miseducated information. Note that I said information, not knowledge.

      • S Ritchie October 26, 2012 at 11:02 am #

        Romney supporter not likely, I’m Canadian you idiot ! Miseducation ? Would love to know what you know about the oil sands, I spent three years working out of there and flying people, workers that is in and out there. The statement “and turned forest into a toxic landscape of oily ponds and scarred earth that stretches to the horizon”, is complete BS. When you see it from there air you can see Ft Mc Murray clearly and all the surrounding forrest. On the scale of seeing the horizon from the air at 30000 ft the oil sands project is only a small part of the picture. Outdated, was last in there in 2011 so wrong again.
        Seems you are the miseducated and misguided one here buddy !

      • suede October 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

        That was a smart move to bring American politics into the argument a Canadian is making. You do sound like an Obama supporter.

    • Chris Bernard October 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      I totally agree. To hear all this one sided BS from today’s favorite eco group gets old fast. Its so transparent and they make sure only half the story is told. This example is no different. I have seen stunning images from reclamation areas where the forests and environment has been re established with wildlife thriving. Chase, you were the one who posted this one sided crap. If you are truly intent on sharing the …your words “real goings on ” about whats happening here in Alberta share this link to a short vid on just how these areas are really left .

  2. Scott McQ October 25, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Beautiful images. Whether the situation is or not is a different discussion. Images are arresting, interesting.

  3. Kenton October 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I too am disappointed by the way you have chosen to describe the oil sands area of northern Alberta. You make it sound like they’ve clear cut 141,000km of land and dug big lakes and filled them with toxic sludge. The vast majority of northern Alberta is untouched wilderness as far as the eye can see. Is there environmental damage? Absolutely and these images are a very interesting (beautiful?) way of documenting that.

    Unfortunately he actually left a great deal of mystery about what is going on up there and I wish he had ventured out to show some of the natural beauty of the area as well.

    I never saw Koyaanisqatsi, but I remember my sister seeing it when it came out and she has always raved about how incredible the movie was. I’ll have to try and see it sometime.

  4. Jay October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I must politely agree with S Ritchie and Kenton. This is not the whole story and Canadian oil will always be twenty times cleaner, both ecologically and socially than middle-eastern oil. How ironic that this article from Petapixel ( referred to this Calvin and Hobbes strip today.

    I live next door in Saskatchewan and oil sands production has begun here. If they maintain their current practices they are welcome to come. No industry is spotless and any can appear filthy if that is what you focus on exclusively.

  5. Dennis Katinas October 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    The worst destruction. winning oil from sand is the most stupid thing. Why do all the effort to win ancient sunlight while fresh sunlight is coming down on us every day. It doesnt make sense. Great photos, horrible subject.

    • suede October 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      You would need a solar/wind field the size of Colorado to do such things.

  6. Sy S October 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    I definitely agree with S Ritchie, Kenton, and Jay. Time to let the “environmentalists” find a way to power our homes, feed our kids and progress into the future. It is utter idiocy to frown upon and chastise an industry which you heavily rely upon without even thinking about it. I am an avid outdoors man and am very much supporting of good stewardship of our planet, it just seems like too many liberals out there have time to criticize an industry that keeps them warm, fuels their cars, and provides them with the goods that they use to convey that same criticism. Stop biting the hand that feeds you, your iStuff is helping pollute nature than the oil sands ever will..

  7. Sam October 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Staying on topic, great photos. Reminds me of some kind of toxic alien planet.

  8. John October 25, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    I love all the apologists here, even “avid outdoorsmen” who will stomach any amount of environmental destruction so that they can keep driving their SUVs. Yes, there is lots more to Alberta, and there will continue to be until we strip-mine the last square inch of it. So what? Is that an excuse for all this destruction? No. They are strip-mining the landscape, and the destruction will be there for hundreds of years.

    If there were ever any real restoration, then I might have more sympathy. But all over the US and Canada, mining companies essentially never restore anything. Look in the heart of Ontario, for example (London-Waterloo-Toronto). It is *filled* with mining pits that have never been restored. (Look on a satellite view in Google maps, there are scars everywhere.) Companies destroy everything and then either just walk away or shift their assets away and declare bankruptcy. Nobody cleans anything up. And what is happening in Alberta is vastly worse.

    • Michael October 26, 2012 at 12:50 am #

      Well said John, Thank You. Love the photos!!!

    • suede October 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      Where do you want your oil from? Destroyed earth from the middle east or destroyed earth from Canada with at least a few companies trying to restore the forest as well? Or should we just all buy a Prius and do far worse things by mining nickel then charge our car with electricity and pump more coal fumes into the atmosphere? I guess having the sun burn the forest would be better.

      Everything you want or use comes from some sort of destruction. Showing one side of it that is complete destruction and neglecting what restoration work they are doing is not right either. You can’t argue that “any real restoration” is happening where there people commenting on the restoration they have seen companies doing. To say “nobody cleans up anything” and using the general word “companies” is just the start to a terrible argument because it is completely untrue.

    • Sy S October 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm #


      I am curious, do you drive a car or rely on fossil fuels in any way? Of course you do! I gather that you cannot understand the point of most of the “apologists” here, I don’t want to see our landscape stripped and scarred. Please stop being hypocritical, using the resources and damning the means. By the way, this “apologist” traded in his gas guzzler years ago for a way more efficient vehicle , and no, not just to save money.

      • S Ritchie November 1, 2012 at 1:38 am #

        Like ))

  9. Russell October 26, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    I would love to see more of these powerful images Chase. You may lose some of your more reactionary supporters, but, in my opinion, the earth and its inhabitants of all species are far too important to worry about that.

    Thank you for introducing me to the work of Ashley Cooper.

  10. faisal October 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Destructive beauty which looks the part.

  11. Erin Wilson October 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    You might want to check out the work of Louis Helbig, if you don’t know him already.

    Stunning, damning work.

    ps. thank you for bringing this issue to more folks who just don’t know the cost of keep up our current lifestyles.

  12. Anonymous November 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    eeesh. It always makes me cringe seeing these sorts of things….though as the first commenter said…the photographer may not be showing the whole picture. While at present time oil is completely necessary for the world to go on, I can’t help but think a bit more caution might be taken by the companies gathering it to ensure that long term harm to the overall environment doesn’t result from their actions.

  13. Samuel Photographer November 14, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Awesome photos!

    Hopefully we will see more these kind of photos in this blo gin the future. It was very nice to get familiar with Ashley Cooper ‘s work so I have to check more of her work.

  14. James January 10, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    I guess in this case them word only told one story which is why bloggers are far from journalistic quality. But thanks all for those of you who pointed out the other sides out in the comments.

  15. Red January 10, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I live in Alberta and work in the oil sands. The band wagon hippies around here that live amongst the oil and gas community and take advantage of the great lifestyle it allows our province to maintain make me sick when they slam the oil sands and post their articles and pictures claiming how terrible it is. (Especially when they are flying in a helicopter to do it) you can show all of the “ecocide” type pictures and show the dirty side of the business but do your job properly and show what the land looks like after it is reclaimed. This is just dishonest. Go see it for yourself before becoming one of the sheep that put down Canadian oil because you heard from a friend who heard that its a “toxic wasteland” I’m sure there is an honest photographer out there that has documented the reclamation process.

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