Stop oil exploration in the Arctic

Unlike the Antarctic, there is no international treaty in place to prevent countries competing to exploit the mineral wealth of the Arctic region. This is a travesty for a number of reasons. However, the two biggest reasons why the Arctic is now so severely threatened are that it is much closer to the developed countries who wish to exploit it; and that the sea bed is much more accessible than the land beneath the Antarctic ice cap. Therefore, when Hilary Clinton popped-up in Greenland in May trying to dress-up exploitation as conservation, I was so furious I set up a Facebook page to protest that the Arctic should not be touched; and here’s why: Greenpeace International has a campaign running to stop exploratory drilling in the Arctic primarily on the grounds that, in a region prone to a great deal of bad weather, an oil spill or accident would be even harder to fix than it was in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, the Arctic region is even more important to a large number of aquatic species than is the Gulf. But logistical and biodiversity challenges are just, ahem, the tip of the iceberg. When it became widely understood that smoking cigarettes will hasten your death, most people stopped smoking. Therefore, now that we know that burning fossil fuels is warming the planet, it might be a good idea to stop it (and invest in alternative technology instead). Instead of this, we find that oil companies are spending ever-increasing amounts of money on trying to find oil in ever-more challenging locations. In the final analysis, this is the reason that Greenpeace says we should “Go Beyond Oil“. As George Monbiot has said, “[t]he problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much – and don’t seem to realise that it is time to kick our filthy habit. Just because we can dig up fossil fuel and burn it, does not mean that we should. As the good book says: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly” (Proverbs 26:11); and “‘I have the right to do anything’, you say—but not everything is beneficial” (I Cor. 6:12). NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally, was reported in the New York Sun newspaper on 12 December 2007 as having said, “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now, as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines”. This year, the minimum extent of sea ice came very close the all-time record of 2007 and the trend is clearly heading towards an ice-free summer within the next decade or so (especially if the rate of melting continues to accelerate). This NOAA animation of the period 1987 to 2010 shows how most of the oldest and thickest ice (more than 10 years old at any given time) has now disappeared; by being flushed down the east coast of Greenland into the Atlantic Ocean. If this makes you as angry as it does me, please sign Greenpeace’s e-petition to stop oil exploration in the Arctic here. ———————- Update (13 Oct): This just in from Climate Denial Crock of the Week: ‘Sea Ice: 2012, A Prediction’. It includes excellent clips of erroneous statements of deniers like Bastardi, Watts, and Goddard; and compares their predictions with what is actually happening. Yet again, far from being “unreliable” or “alarmist“, IPCC predictions have been shown to be too cautious. Rate of loss can and will only accelerate as average albedo is lowered and heat absorption rises. Net result: Arctic Ice will probably be gone within 5 to 20 years!


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Arctic, Climate Science, Economics, Environment, Greenpeace, Politics, Scepticism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Stop oil exploration in the Arctic

  1. Pingback: Is Antarctica safe in our hands? | Anthropocene Reality

  2. pendantry says:

    Thanks for (1) the nudge towards Peter Sinclair’s website (a site that I should visit more often) (2) taking the time to set up your Facebook page protesting the abuse of the Arctic and especially (3) the link to Greenpeace’s petition for action to protect the Arctic (signed). However: you say that one of the “two biggest reasons why the Arctic is now so severely threatened” is “that the sea bed is much more accessible than the land beneath the Antarctic ice cap”. While technically true, a skim-reading of this will, I feel sure, leave one with the impression that “the Arctic’s sea bed is accessible” — which is far from the truth. I saw a documentary not so long ago (sadly, I cannot recall where) in which the point was made that the technology now employed to reach the seabed (whether Arctic or not) is so advanced that it’s akin to exploring another planet. And since such things are rarely, if ever, designed with backup systems that realistically acknowledge that catastrophic failure can occur (nobody ever builds anything truly believing it can fail), I’m reminded of the truth that in the event of a problem with a manned space mission, there are no lifeboats; and there are no backup missions on the launchpad fueled and ready to go to the rescue. We’ve already seen one high-profile catastrophic deep sea oil drilling misadventure (and there are other examples that, not being on the USA’s doorstep, were ‘undeserving’ of such high profile!). Unless we stop the insanity, there will be more.


    • Rick_Altman says:

      Thanks for all your comments and skill in spotting typing errors (mine corrected and your comment amended). You are right, the Arctic seabed is not easy to access and – as Greenpeace argue – this makes both the likelihood and consequences of an accident much greater.


  3. Pingback: Is there an up-side to an ice-free Antarctica? | Anthropocene Reality

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