Beautiful Destruction is a book of photographs of and essays about the Canadian tar sands. The photographs were taken from the air by Canadian artist and photographer, Louis Helbig. Essays were contributed by artists, policy makers, industry members, and environmentalists and so span a wide range of views about the tar sands.
Many of the photographs are abstract and artistic, while others expose the dirty business of mining oil from the ground. Even with aerial photographs, it is difficult to grasp the scope of the tar sands, which cover a landmass of 54,132 square miles—a region larger than 24 US states. Fully exploiting these sands for oil could release more climate pollution than the USA and China combined have released in all their history. It could surpass all the oil ever burned by humanity.