Call to Action for a Clean Energy Future and Preservation of the Arctic Regions
Drilling in regions as remote and as fragile as the Arctic sea-ice, raises deep concerns for the safety and preservation of this fragile ecosystem.
In light of the recent tragic spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it is imperative to consider what a spill would mean on the sea ice. Hard as it is to clean in the open ocean, oil is virtually impossible to clean when trapped in ice. Because the arctic sea ice is merely a frozen crust on the surface of the ocean, it moves, shifts and melts at the mercy of external conditions such as winds, currents, tides and temperatures. These shifting conditions would spread a spill over thousands, possibly millions of square miles.
The ice drift represents an enormous energy force making oil platforms especially vulnerable to a spill. In fact, independent estimations point to a 33-51% chance of a major spill per platform on the sea ice.
Containment is made all the more challenging given the harsh working conditions of these frigid environments, their isolated location, and the limited travel condition on the ice's surface.
A spill on the sea ice would have a catastrophic impact on the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
The polar bear, for one, would find one more reason to be endangered. A clean animal, it would likely poison itself to death by cleaning its fur or that of its cubs if it were soiled with oil. The same fate would apply to the arctic fox. A major spill would poison fish and plankton life, affecting seal populations and migrating whales.
The United Nation sanctions as criminal the voluntary spill of oil in a natural setting. With a guarantee of a major spill every two to three platforms, does this not make a government complicit in a crime if it allows drilling of its shores in such volatile and challenging areas?
Finally, let us examine the breakdown in common sense logic inherent to piercing the Earth's crust to drain its carbon reserves only to turn around and burn it into the atmosphere, perpetuating the cycle that made drilling in these region more accessible to begin with. Since we know oil resources to be finite, does it not make more logical sense to commit to infinitely renewable natural resources such as the sun, the wind, oceans, tides, geothermal, and hydro to name a few?
It is time to establish an international treaty protecting the Arctic from the short term solution of drilling, and its dire implications, and commit to a clean energy future.
In defense of our planet,
Sebastian Copeland & The SEDNA Foundation