As the Climate Changes, Species Move North or Go Extinct
While arguing with an industry representative recently during my local city’s drilling task force meeting, he told me that wind turbines kill birds.
The problem with his argument wasn’t only that he had showed up in my town from another city to try to influence our drilling ordinance, or even that what he said isn’t true.
The problem is that climate change is killing far more bird species now than wind-generated power is, power that is helping put a damper on rising carbon levels.
According to the U.N. Environment Programme, about 200 unique species go extinct every single day. This is roughly 1,000 times more than the normal or “background” extinction rate that typically occurs naturally.
A new study conducted over the past 20 years examined nearly 11,000 bird and butterfly species. Analysts found that many species are living hundreds of kilometers above their normal climate zones, while others are dying off as they become unable to adapt to the warming temperatures.
The phenomenon has been dubbed “climate debt.”
Other bird species are facing the threat of extinction because their primary prey cannot stand the heat. While some birds have been able to move north and find food, others haven’t.
Some are looking to rectify what is becoming a grossly obvious problem by suggesting endangered species be relocated to more habitable regions. The problem with that solution is invasive species which upset previously balanced ecosystems.
The real solution? Stop burning fossil fuels—yes, that means natural gas, too.
In President Obama’s State of the Union address, he proposed expanding offshore drilling and natural gas exploration while simultaneously pledging to broaden renewable energy resources by using public land and giving tax breaks to clean energy.
While many have hailed natural gas as a transition fuel that burns cleaner, the process of hydraulic fracturing actually releases huge amounts of methane, one of the strongest greenhouse gases.
We can’t continue to policy dance around mass extinction prompted by human-caused climate change. Put up more wind turbines and stop fracking. The turbines might kill a few birds, but not any more than your cat might deliver to your door step over its life.
Candice Bernd is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @CandiceBernd.