US Mexico Border Wall: Potential Environmental Impacts
by Paul Davies
Donald Trump's ecological policies are probably best outlined by the US Mexico border wall. The US border wall with Mexico was a cornerstone of Donald Trump's successful 2016 presidential campaign.
The US Mexico border stretches for 1,954 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and 1,000 miles of it is set to be ‘secured’ by the wall. The other half will be secured by nature, including the Rio Grande river and mountains.
“Whatever they build, it’s going to be destructive to natural habitat,” explains Bob Dreher, who heads up Defenders of Wildlife conservation programs.
5 potential impacts of the US Mexico border wall on the environment and ecology
1. Diverse landscapes threatened
The proposed US Mexico border wall will cover different eco-systems, including forests, deserts and wetland marshes. These habitats are home to 62 species listed as critically endangered. Construction of the wall will also increase soil erosion and alter the natural patterns of water and wildfire, changing the landscape forever.
2. Increasing the effects of flooding
In 2008, flash floods occurred in Arizona. These were made worse by 15ft high wire mesh fencing that had been erected under George W. Bush’s time in office. The fences trapped flowing debris, causing the water to rise up to seven-foot high and millions of dollars worth of property damage. The US Mexico border wall will probably require many large storm gates, that can be opened to negate this potential environmental and economic damage from being increased.
3. Disrupting animal populations and migrations
Current border fencing between the US and Mexico already disrupts the seasonal migration of animals. With the proposed US Mexico border wall increase, over 100 native species could be at risk of survival, including gray wolves, jaguars and ocelots. With diminished hunting grounds and isolating populations, even birds such as the Pygmy Owl will be affected (as they only fly 5ft off the ground).
4. Putting plants in jeopardy
By limiting the migration of animals, this can have a direct effect on plants. For example, mesquite tree seeds are eaten by javelinas and coyotes. These seeds germinate best when they have been through the digestive systems of these animals. With the border wall in place, this may heavily reduce the biodiversity of plants and trees alongside animals.
5. Ignoring environmental laws
Unfortunately, the Trump US Mexico border wall does not have to meet over 30 of the most effective environmental laws put in place across the United States. This is because Homeland Security has the right to waive any laws in the name of national security. Some of these laws include the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The US border wall with Mexico may have helped win Donald Trump the US presidency, but implementing his grand idea is another challenge entirely. The outcome of the 2020 US Presidential election will be a defining factor as to whether this ridiculous plan is ever completed and the impacts on nature and wildlife. Given the current standard of construction (in January 2020 portions of the wall in California blew over in high winds much to the amusment of...almost everyone) the wall might not be standing for long, no matter who is in charge.
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