In the last 30 years, we’ve lost as much as three-quarters of the floating ice cap at the top of the world.
For over 800,000 years, ice has been a permanent feature of the Arctic ocean. Now, scientists say, the melting is in a ‘death spiral.’ Why should we care? Arctic sea ice keeps the polar regions cool and helps moderate global climate.
According to Save the Arctic:
The sea ice melt is would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there—but for the rest of us too. The ice at the top of the world reflects much of the sun’s heat back into space and keeps our whole planet cool, stabilizing the weather systems that we depend on to grow our food. Protecting the ice means protecting us all.
Big oil couldn’t be happier.
I will be one of those persons most cheering for an endless summer in Alaska.
~ Peter E. Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska
In the coming weeks, Shell is due to begin exploratory drilling at two offshore sites in the Alaskan Arctic.
Shell’s Slaiby said his company could effectively clean up an oil spill in the Arctic with heated booms and in situ burning. The efficacy of those methods, however, remains in doubt in the minds of many, including U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, who served as the federal coordinator for the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I would never be confident [we could handle a major spill],” Zukunft said. “You’ll never get all the oil. It’s just not feasible. But that’s the expectation here.”
(Side note: Shell is the sponsor of National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge initiative.)
I had a chance to ask Mark Terry—United Nations advisor, decorated polar explorer and award-winning documentary filmmaker —what he thought of the situation. He said,
The Arctic’s fragile eco-system is under attack by record-setting changes in our climate. With more than 40 percent of the summer ice gone in the past 30 years, the remaining ice is much thinner and will soon be gone as well. Any kind of commercial activity will aggravate the polar collapse affecting flora, fauna and man.
September 17, 2012 update: Shell suspended drilling due to damage to safety equipment. We need to keep the pressure on.
What we can do:
- Sign the petition to declare a global sanctuary in the Arctic. (www.savethearctic.org)
- Join the Save the Arctic twitter protest here and tweet the livin’ daylights out of your stand against drilling using the hashtag #StopShell. Tell them to keep their f*cking hands off the Arctic.
- Share this post far and wide. Email, twitter, facebook, streaking around your neighborhood Shell station—whatever it takes.