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Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has criticized former U.S. vice-president Al Gore for comments he made in a magazine interview in which he attacked the massive oil-sands industry in northern Alberta.

Mr. Gore told an interviewer in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that oil-sands processing is a huge waste of energy and creates an eyesore on the landscape of Western Canada.

"For every barrel of oil they extract there, they have to use enough natural gas to heat a family's home for four days," Mr. Gore told the magazine.

"And they have to tear up four tonnes of landscape, all for one barrel of oil. It is truly nuts. But you know, junkies find veins in their toes. It seems reasonable, to them, because they've lost sight of the rest of their lives."

Mr. Gore concluded that the United States must reduce its dependence on oil as the primary source of energy to save the planet from the devastating impact of global warming.

Mr. Klein, who was recently in Washington to promote the oil sands as a reliable source of energy for the United States, said Mr. Gore's views are simply not realistic.

"I don't know what he proposes the world run on, maybe hot air," he told reporters on Tuesday. "I don't listen to Al Gore in particular because he's a Democrat. And not only that, he's about as far left as you can go.

"The simple fact is America needs oil. They need gas. And unless he can find some other source, fine."

Mr. Klein has stirred controversy in the past by rejecting scientific data suggesting industrial pollution is one of the leading causes of global warming.

He has even said global warming trends that occurred millions of years ago may have been caused by "dinosaur farts."

He conceded for the first time, however, on Tuesday that the current causes of global warming are "man-made."

"I don't argue with the science that all of us - as we exhale, as the population grows, as there are more vehicles on the streets and more carbons produced - that we contribute to global warming."

Mr. Klein said although Alberta strongly rejected measures in the Kyoto accord to reduce global warming, he believes the province is taking a prudent approach in reducing emissions.

"We take the matter of global warming very seriously. We just don't think that the Kyoto Protocol is the way to go," he said. "As far as I know, we're the only jurisdiction in Canada to put in legislation to reduce greenhouse gases."

Kevin Taft, Alberta's Liberal Opposition Leader, said he does not think Mr. Klein's Progressive Conservative government has given global warming the kind of attention it deserves.

"For the Alberta government to stick its head in the sand on this issue is just nuts," Mr. Taft said. "The world is going to switch to other forms of energy. There will be no choice."

He said Alberta needs to keep pace with the rest of the world by investing in research of alternate forms of energy.

Mr. Klein said Alberta is taking the right approach for a province that has "a carbon-based economy."