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Winner of the National Business Book Award
Longlisted for the 2018 BC National Nonfiction Award
Bestselling author Chris Turner brings readers onto the streets of Fort McMurray, showing the myriad ways the oil sands impact our lives and demanding that we ask the question: To both fuel the world and to save it, what do we do about the Patch?
The Patch is the story of Fort McMurray and the oil sands in northern Alberta, the world’s second largest proven reserve of oil. But this is no conventional story about the oil business. Rather, it is a portrait of the world of the Patch, showing just how deeply the oil sands continue to impact the lives of everyone around the world.
At its peak, the oil sands represented an industrial triumph and the culmination of a century of innovation, experiment, engineering, policy, and finance. Fort McMurray was a boomtown, the centre of a new gold rush, and the oil sands were reshaping the global energy, political, and financial landscapes. But in recent years, a new narrative has emerged. As the cold, hard, scientific reality of the Patch’s effect on the environment has become clear, the region has turned into a boogeyman and a lightning rod for the global movement combatting climate change. Today, the streets of Fort McMurray remain the front line of a high-stakes collision between two conflicting worldviews—one of industrial triumph and another of environmental stewardship—each backed by major players on the world stage.
The Patch is the definitive account of this ongoing conflict. It follows a select group of key characters who live and work in the oil sands. Through an insightful combination of global perspective and on-the-ground action, The Patch shows how the reach of the oil sands extends to all of us. From Fort Mac to the Bakken shale country of North Dakota, from Houston to London, from Saudi Arabia to the shores of Brazil, the whole world is connected in this enterprise. And it demands that we ask the question: In order to both fuel the world and to save it, what do we do about the Patch?
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