At first glance it may appear as if we've just removed the 's' from Star Wars, cooked up a pretty impressive Princess Leia sequence, added aerial footage of our recent action in the tar sands and called it a Greenpeace - Star Wars spoof.
But really - there's so much more to it than that. (Bear with me here while we do some Star Wars plot analysis:)
The plot of 1977 sci-fi classic Star Wars and what is happening in the tar sands developments of Northern Alberta, Canada share key plot points:
At the end of Star Wars the rebel alliance (including Luke, Leia, Han, and the gang) are rushing off to destroy the DEATH STAR - the ultimate weapon developed by the Galactic Empire under the evil influence of the Emperor and Darth Vader - which is poised to destroy the planet Alderaan at any moment.
The tar sands (or DEATH TARS for our purposes) represent a threat on a similar scale to the DEATH STAR - but a threat based in reality.
Developing this source of unconventional oil involves: destroying forest, decimating and polluting fresh water, and emitting massive amounts of carbon dioxide - the main contributor to climate change. To continue to power this destructive process the tar sands industry plans to invest in expensive and experimental carbon capture and storage technology, and potentially build nuclear power plants, to replace the natural gas it is already burning as a power source.
This would create a kind of 'perfect storm' of unsustainable, dangerous and environmentally destructive energy sources. (And it certainly sounds like the description of an 'ultimate weapon' to me.)
In Star Wars Darth Vader and that hooded guy with the glowing eyes are always creeping around exerting their evil influence on the Galactic Empire, whereas in the case of the tar sands we have the powerful fossil fuel industry creeping around exerting their own kind of influence on governments, investors, media, etc. (For example, the American Petroleum Institute's recent attempt to fake anti-climate legislation protests in the US . Similar examples chronicled on DeSmogBlog.)
At the close of the film the DEATH STAR hovers menacingly over Alderaan, but the tar sands aren't just hovering menacingly - they are already directly impacting local communities like Fort Chipewyan and their continued development pushes us closer and closer to catastrophic climate change. The consequences of which hover over all of us.
In the heart-pounding final moments of Star Wars the rebel alliance has discovered the DEATH STAR's weakness and rushes off to save Alderaan. The tar sands have a weakness too - people who want a future that is sustainable. People like you.
A strong and binding climate treaty that drastically reduces emissions is what we need to stop the tar sands. The UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen is the place to get it.
*Added bonus - our 'Tar Wars' Princess Leia is from Alberta. Fitting, no?
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