Life Imitates “Avatar”

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Just in time for tonight’s Academy Awards ceremony, leading environmental groups have run full-page ads in Hollywood trade publications to praise Oscar-nominated filmmaker James Cameron for exposing the dangers of tar sands oil in Avatar.

Environmental Defence Canada’s ad in Variety (top left)shows a 797B Heavy Hauler, one of the first trucks used to mine the tar sands—and identical to some of the trucks used in Avatar. It also features the vast open pit mines that cut across the once-pristine boreal forests in Cameron’s Ontario hometown.

“We want Hollywood, and the powerful thought leaders there, to know Avatar does a great job of exposing the tar sands,” says EDC Executive Director Rick Smith. “It’s the world’s most destructive project. Pandora’s ‘unobtanium’ is Canada’s tar sands.”

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club has run a similar ad in The Hollywood Reporter (top right),which reads: “Pandora Isn’t the Only Planet in Peril.” The group is asking Americans to sign a petition that will be sent to President Obama.

“Avatar is like one big advertisement for our fight against tar sands oil,” says Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. “This is one of the most destructive projects on Earth, and we can’t let it expand into the U.S.”

“The photos of oil sands mining operations are frightening,” adds Dirty Fuels Campaign Coordinator Kate Colarulli. “It’s like you’re actually looking at stills from the movie Avatar. The giant trucks they use to destroy forests and mine earth are dead ringers. The lifeless, scarred earth that’s left behind looks exactly the same.

“One of the most important similarities between Avatar and the oil sands is the impacts on people,” she adds. “Indigenous communities near oil sands operations have reported high rates of cancer linked to pollution from the project. They are watching the oil industry destroy the landscape their families have lived in for hundreds of years.”

For Your Organic Bookshelf:Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

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