According to a study released by a coalition of environmental groups, the extraction and refining of oil from Canada’s tar sands could kill up to 166 million birds in the next 30 – 50 years.
The tar sands lie in Canada’s Boreal forest and it’s estimated that half of America’s migratory birds nest in the area.
The process of extracting oil from the sands is energy and water intensive – tar sands mining in Canada is licensed to use more water than a city of 3 million people. The tar sands boom now accounts for Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.Additionally, it’s highly destructive, stripping the land of vegetation and poisoning rivers and streams.
According to the report, poisons in ponds close to tar sands operations already result in 8,000 to 100,000 oiled and drowned birds each year. 500 ducks were killed in a single incident during 2008 after landing in one of the polluted ponds.
It’s quite incredible the lengths we go to in order to maintain our addiction to black gold in this age of Peak Oil. Much like a drug addict, we seem quite happy to destroy everything good around us – and it really doesn’t have to be this way. It’s simply a case of pouring more cash into the development of other cleaner technologies.
However, our oil hungry combustion engines certainly aren’t going to disappear overnight even with a massive cash injection, so in the meantime we can all reduce demand by saving gas wherever we can.
It’s something to think about the next time we fill up our cars – how many people lost their lives in wars; how many animals died, how much land was destroyed in order we can zip down to the store to buy stuff we really don’t even need? The answers to those questions can provide some incentive to cut the amount of unnecessary driving we do.