OilGerald Herbert:Getty Images

Elizabeth Kolbert puts the BP spill in context:

While the point of “peak oil” may or may not have been reached, what Michael Klare, a professor at Hampshire College, has dubbed the Age of Tough Oil has clearly begun. This year, the United States’ largest single source of imported oil is expected to be the Canadian tar sands. Oil from the tar sands comes in what is essentially a solid form: it has to be either strip-mined, a process that leaves behind a devastated landscape, or melted out of the earth using vast quantities of natural gas.

(Image: Oily water is seen at sunset at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill May 11, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. By Gerald Herbert/Getty Images.)

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