The Athabasca bituminous sands are being engineered at a scale equal to or greater than any other human landscape project. They are a monument to human ingenuity, power and technology. While not designed or articulated as such, they are a continuation of the landscape expression of humanity’s power over nature ñ a style that landscape architects will recognize as the driving force said to be behind Andrè Le Nùtre’s design of the grounds at Versailles. In this French formal garden, regular geometry was designed and constructed intentionally to emphasize King Louis XIV’s absolute power.

In the case of the Athabasca bituminous sands, perhaps it will be said that irregular geometry was being designed and constructed as an unintentional expression of an unwillingness to accept humankind’s capacity to modify nature. We are living in a society that requires environmental destruction for its continuation. We appreciate the luxury, security and stability that this society affords, but we also feel guilt for the sacrifice being made by the environment. Why guilt for matter that shows no preference for its state of organization, shows no opposition or resistance to its destruction, and continues to reproduce in even the most reduced of environments?  All glory to maximum entropy!