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The rise of the oil sands was an industrial triumph and the culmination of a century of tireless innovation. And Fort McMurray was the industry’s boomtown and the center of a modern gold rush as the oil sands reshaped the global energy, political, and economic landscapes.

But in 2008, the story started to change rapidly. As financial markets collapsed and the cold, hard, scientific reality of the Patch’s environmental impact became clear, the oil sands turned into a global pariah. The streets of Fort McMurray became the front line in a high-stakes collision between two conflicting world views—one of industrial triumph and the other of environmental stewardship.

The Patch is the definitive story of this global conflict, told through the eyes of those who live in it day-to-day—from the shift workers, entrepreneurs, and politicians who make a living mining the oil sands’ material riches to the scientists, activists, and Indigenous peoples who seek to curb the region’s unrestrained growth.

With remarkable clarity and urgency, The Patch shows how deeply the oil sands business affects all our lives. From Fort McMurray to factories and refineries in the Midwest, from Washington to London, from Saudi Arabia to China, the whole world is connected to this colossal enterprise. How have we got to this point? What will come next? And, most importantly, if we are to both fuel the fast-growing world and to save it from catastrophic climate change, what do we do about the Patch?

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"Chris Turner is a voice of sanity in an increasingly shrill and polarized world. He looks at matters critically, cleanly, and honestly, without ideological blinkers. Anyone who wants to understand the complex nature of the oil sands should start with this book."
—Will Ferguson, Giller Prize-winning author of 419

“The twenty-first century will be defined by how civilization reconciles its powerful hunger for energy with the toll taken on the planet’s equilibrium. The trial run in that long contest is underway today in the Patch.”
—from the Preface

©2017 Chris Turner