A Changing Climate and Keystone XL — Yes They’re Connected

Photo: Lou Gold
Are you familiar with tar sands oil? It’s the black sheep of the oil family. It’s extremely difficult to get out of the ground (using three times as much water as extraction of crude), it produces lake sized reservoirs of toxic waste, and releases toxic chemicals into the air when refined.  So why is the United States thinking about investing in projects like the Keystone XL pipeline which would carry this dirty fuel across our country? It makes no sense: investing in tar sands is risky, expensive and dirty.

How Tar Sands Impacts Our Changing Climate

Tar sands production in Canada’s Boreal Forest is fueling the climate crisis (not to mention destroying wildlife habitat in the largest terrestrial ecosystems in the world). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has the potential to increase carbon pollution by 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 6.2 million cars on the road for 50 years.  Woah! That’s a lot of emissions. This project would lock us into decades of dirty fuel dependence at the exact moment in history when we need to take serious action against a rapidly changing climate and embrace our clean energy future. We need to get it together. Our future depends on it.

What This Means For Wildlife

Scientists warn that without significant new steps to reduce carbon pollution, our planet will warm by 7 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with devastating consequences for wildlife. The climate crisis is already changing the playing field for wildlife and urgent action is needed to preserve America’s conservation legacy, according to our new report: Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis.

“We know what’s causing the climate changes Americans are seeing in their own backyards and we have the solutions to secure our climate and safeguard our wildlife for future generations,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “What we need is the political leadership to make smart energy choices and wise investments in protecting our natural resources. We can’t leave this problem for our children and grandchildren to fix – they’ll judge us based on what we do now.”

How We Can Transform Our Energy Future

Photo: Marine Jaouen
Fortunately, it’s not too late to make the change (although we’re getting close).  Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis, calls for a “transition to cleaner, more secure sources of energy like offshore wind, solar power and next-generation biofuels while avoiding dirty energy choices like coal and tar sands oil.” Americans are ready to see a real shift away from dirty energy. That is why thousands (including myself) are descending on Washington D.C. in February to tell President Obama that we’re serious and that if he’s serious he’ll start taking action to fight climate change by rejecting Keystone XL. I believe that our voices have the ability to change our energy future. This rally will be the largest climate rally in history and a moment this movement will never forget.

On Sunday, February 17th, join thousands of Americans at a historic rally in Washington D.C. to protect polar bears and other wildlife at risk from climate change.

Take Action

Protect wildlife from dirty fuel that is contributing to climate change!