油砂

埃德蒙顿——就好比马塞诸塞殖民地民众不可能理性地探讨巫术一样,今天的人们也不可能平心静气地探讨环境问题。从加拿大东北部阿尔伯塔省阿塔巴斯卡油砂公司向得州海湾炼油厂运送石油的拱心石XL输油管道计划引发的夸张争论就是实例。

阿尔伯塔省政府和背后的石油公司把“焦油砂”改叫“油砂”,似乎改个好听点的名字就能摆脱环保主义者的批评。而反对输油管项目的环保者也出于同样的心态将其称之为“脏油”。难怪旁观者质疑哪种做法更不可取——是蹩脚的更名还是蹩脚的俏皮话。

虽然笨手笨脚,但政府和环保主义者的说法的确都有真实的成份。焦油砂其实是绵延数百平方公里的沥青矿层,不但黏度高而且具有腐蚀性。土壤的表层浸透了沥青,尤其在有沉淀物的地方埋得更深。抓一把河岸边的泥土手上确实能沾上不少油脂,而油质粘土的确也含有沙质成份。

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