Oil is rubbish. I mean, obviously it's been great - you know, they way that it underpins what we call 'advanced industrial civilisation' - that we can make it into petrol, plastic, pharmaceuticals, fertiliser. That's obviously brilliant, because in my opinion all that stuff has (by and large) been great. But now that we've got better, cleaner and smarter ways to power our cities, run our cars and heat our homes forgive me if I find the black stuff a bit... last century.
It's getting harder to find the stuff, for one thing. These days big oil companies like BP and Shell have to reassure their investors about their continued ability to find new oil fields to drill, rather than just sticking a pipe into the ground and watching money magically pour out of it, which is, I understand, what used to happen.
Experts argue over when, exactly, the global supply of oil will peak, leaving that entire 'advanced industrial civilisation' thing looking like a pretty stupid move. And of course, the main reason that oil is rubbish is that burning it on a massive scale is a big part of why we're now causing our climate to behave in new, unusual and dangerous ways.
Our burning desire to find new sources of oil and the accelerating carbon emissions of our global society come together in one place - the Canadian tar sands. The tar sands are the largest industrial project on the planet today - a massive industrial wasteland of opencast mines, pipes and refineries that has been constructed across the Albertan wilderness. It's all there to get low-grade oil out of the ground, but this oil comes at a horrific cost in terms of destroyed forests, poisoned rivers and lakes, and increased carbon emissions.
If you want to know more - and we will be talking about tar sands a lot over the coming months - a new film called Dirty Oil dramatically explores the battle between industry, government, local communities and environmentalists over the development of the tar sands. Through the eyes of scientists, big oil officials, politicians, doctors, environmentalists and aboriginal citizens, the film examines the damage caused by our ongoing quest for new sources of oil.