The report this video is based on is available online at:
“At a time when bird populations are rapidly declining, this report puts into perspective the far reaching effects of tar sands oil development on North America’s birds,” said the report’s lead author Jeff Wells, Ph.D. of the Boreal Songbird Initiative. “The public needs to understand the real and long-term ecological costs of this development and determine if this is acceptable.”
Canada’s Boreal forest is a globally important destination for birds as a nesting area and breeding habitat, especially for an array of wetland-dependent birds. Unfortunately the rapidly expanding tar sands oil extraction industry increasingly puts these birds at risk. It is estimated that half of America’s migratory birds nest in the Boreal forest, and each year 22–170 million birds breed in the area that could eventually be developed for tar sands oil. The report projects that the cumulative impact over the next 30–50 years could be as high as 166 million birds lost, including future generations. The report suggests impacts will increase in the next 30–50 years, despite international treaties to protect these birds.
Almost every aspect of oil development affects migratory birds throughout the flyways of North America. In Alberta, tar sands mining and drilling causes significant habitat loss and fragmentation. Toxic tailing ponds result in 8,000 to 100,000 oiled and drowned birds annually (for example, this year 500 ducks died in a single incident after landing in one of the polluted water storage lakes). Tar sands mining is a water-intensive process, licensed to use more water than a city of 3 million people.
The threat to birds is not contained exclusively in Alberta. Increasing development of tar sands refinery and pipeline infrastructure is creating a direct pollution delivery system into the Great Lakes. The resulting decrease in air and water quality affects migratory birds, which will suffer elevated mortality numbers as a result of contaminants and toxins from refining. Most importantly, global warming changes already affecting Boreal birds are exacerbated by the tar sands, which account for Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Pipelines fail. The Exxon pipeline that failed under the Yellowstone River was small compared to the huge XL pipeline. The Exxon pipeline that failed had transported tar sands crude, but was not doing so when it broke. Discussions on the rupture suggested that tar sands crude may have made the pipe more prone to failure. An XL sized rupture on any environmentally sensitive area, like the Yellowstone River would be a major disaster.
Ten-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a human songbird, needs our help. Her world is being destroyed by the most massive mining operation on earth. An area, the size of Florida, the size of England, is being raped for the world's dirtiest oil.
Ten-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney stood outside Enbridge Northern Gateway’s office on July 6, waiting for officials to grant her access to the building. She thought she could hand deliver an envelope containing an important message about the company’s pipeline construction. But the doors remained locked.
“I don’t know what they find so scary about me,” she said, as she was ushered off the property by security guards. “I just want them to hear what I have to say.”
The Sliammon First Nation youth put in a great effort learning about environmental issues and the pipeline in particular, and hoped to share her knowledge and carefully crafted words. Enbridge officials said they were unable to provide Ta’Kaiya space or time and failed to comment because the Vancouver office is staffed by a limited number of technical personnel. Their headquarters are located in Calgary.
So Ta’Kaiya stood outside, accompanied by three members of Greenpeace, her mother, and a number of reporters and sang her song “Shallow Waters.” The song’s video has hit YouTube and been viewed more than 53,000 times.
She co-wrote her song after learning of Enbridge’s bid to build twin 1,170 km pipelines to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to British Columbia’s north coast. Like the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline that would connect the Canadian tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Enbridge’s Alberta-B.C. pipeline is widely opposed, largely because it would bring hundreds of oil supertankers a year to the Great Bear Rainforest—an ecologically significant region along a particularly dangerous route for tankers.
“Oil pipelines and tankers will give people jobs, but if there is an oil spill like the [BP spill] in the Gulf of Mexico, that will take other people’s jobs and the wildlife will die,” said Ta’Kaiya.
Adn please check out the indigenous environmental network.
The Indigenous Environmental Network fights to protect the environment of indigenous people.
What can you do?
In addition to participating in our blogathon as blogger, reader, or commenter, you can sign up to join Bill McKibben in civil disobedience August 20-September 3 in front of the White House.
We know what the future will look like with the XL pipeline.