"No matter how you feel about the oil sands or the burning of all that oil, you can be sure that as long as there's a market for it and people need jobs, the oil companies aren't going anywhere."
Robert Johnson, a journalist with Business Insider and former US Army non-commissioned officer, approached an Alberta oil sands company in April 2012 for a tour of their open mining process. He was refused access to the site and rented a plane to photograph the facility and surrounding area from the air. Johnson assembled a series of powerful photographs that document the overwhelming impact that oil extraction is having on the environment.
The resulting photo essay includes detailed photos and descriptions of the mining process, offering readers a front row seat to the Athabasca oil sands north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Each photo is annotated with explanations of how the oil is extracted and processed, starting with deforestation and removal of the oil sands. He walks the reader through each step showing how the oil is converted, broken down, transported, and stored, including the giant open storage ponds that are lethal to waterfowl. He describes how the oil workers and their families are beginning to put down roots in the area, the concern that residents have about pollution, and their desire for increased transparency.