Alberta Tar Sands


Alberta Tar SandsThe term “tar sands” refers to thick oil called bitumen that is mixed in with sand, clay, and water. Intensive energy is required to process the sands into crude oil. Tar sands oil emits high volumes of greenhouse gasses due to the difficulty of extraction, posing potential problems for birds struggling to adapt to climate change. Tar sands projects are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions growth in Canada, and emissions from the tar sands are expected to continue rising over the next decade. Projects such as the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline would likely fuel further tar sands development.

Climate change isn't the only threat tar sands oil poses to birds. In 2008, around 1,500 ducks landed in a toxic tailings pond and subsequently died. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, according to experts. Habitat loss and degradation are likely a much larger threat, along with the contamination of air and water near tar sands development.


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Banner photo credit: CPAWS, by Juri Peepre