Many plants and animals are finding it tougher to survive as global warming shifts ecosystems in latitude and altitude. Then there are the "old-fashioned" threats posed by our addiction to fossil fuels: well drilling and pipeline construction, as well as road building and increased truck traffic through wilderness areas. A recent report by the Endangered Species Coalition, Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink, focuses on ten "particularly vulnerable" animals, plants, birds, and fish that are at risk of extinction due to the massive footprint of our energy infrastructure. The list is a reminder of what we are sacrificing to maintain the conveniences of our fossil fuel-reliant lifestyles.
More online: View the entire list at www.earthislandjournal.org
(A) Bowhead Whale: Threatened by potential oil spills, noise from offshore oil drilling, and collisions with ships.
(B) Greater Sage Grouse: Coalbed methane gas development in Wyoming's Powder River Basin has coincided with a 79 percent decline in the greater sage-grouse population. The cause is habitat fragmentation due to roads, pipelines, power lines and other human activity.
(C) Wyoming Pocket Gopher: It's estimated that fewer than 40 of these rare animals exist today in their sole range in Wyoming's Sweetwater and Carbon counties. Truck and vehicle traffic associated with increasing oil and gas activities have cut off potential mating opportunities, endangering their survival.
(D) Tan Riffleshell: This endangered mollusk plays a critical role in the health of Appalachian river habitats by filtering pollutants and restoring nutrients to the water. Acid mine drainage, sediments from coal mining, and coal ash landfills are contaminating the mussel's habitat and breeding areas.
(E) Kentucky Arrow Darter: Toxic waste from mountaintop removal coal mining is poisoning streams and killing the rare Kentucky arrow darter fish (and contaminating the drinking water of human communities downstream). The arrow darter has been wiped out from more than half of its original range.
(F) Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle: The most seriously endangered of all sea turtles in the US due to the lingering impacts of the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, its only breeding area. The spill killed more than 600 turtles.