Everyone knows that the Tar Sands are a danger to the environment, and the past few years have been rife with news about how the tar sands have endangered species and created a great deal of problems for local environments. Well, a new study released by the NRDC shows that birds will be severely affected if tar sands are allowed to continue to expand.
The northern Boreal forest in Alberta and Saskatchewan is an important area for birds to nest and breed. With the many wetlands up there, it is very important for the birds to go to this habitat, but with a growing use of the tar sands, those birds will be several endangered to get one of the dirtiest and hard-to-get fuels in the world.
The report states that each year 22 to 170 million birds go to the area to breed, areas that may eventually be taken over by the tar sands. As a result, over the next few decades, as much as 166,000,000 birds could die as a result of the tar sands. This is happening even though there are man international treaties in place to protect many of the birds that are dying in the tar sands of Northern Alberta.
In 2008, we already saw what the tar sands can do to the environment when 500 ducks landed in a tailing pond, a highly polluted storage lake, where all but two died. Each year, 8,000 to 100,000 birds die from drowning or poisoning in tailing ponds, putting huge dents in bird populations that are already being hit hard with hunting, pollution and global warming.
In the coming years, 740,000 acres of forest and wetlands could be lost, which will begin to fragment habitats and contribute to the death of the birds. On top of that, mining will degrade the existing wetlands, toxins will be released into the air and high amounts of CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere because of the high intensity of carbon in tar-sands oil.
It is sad what is happening for the sake of oil, even oil that is not that easy to get. Hopefully as we move into the future, our need for tar sand oil will be replaced by clean technologies and millions of birds will be saved.