Save the Arctic from Becoming a Climate Catastrophe

Shell Oil's Polar Pioneer Arctic Drilling Rig assembled in Seattle, Washington.

Target: Participants in the UN Convention on Climate Change

Goal: Save the environment of the arctic from becoming a climate catastrophe.

A climate catastrophe is developing in the Arctic. The last great unprotected wilderness on earth is under siege. A place where endangered species have found safety and native people have sought to live a subsistence lifestyle in harmony with nature is going to change. Shell Oil which has already spent seven years and $7 billion trying to find crude oil in the Arctic Ocean has a project that could hurl 150 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is a project described as “pulling the detonator on a carbon bomb.”

Ironically, the only reason Shell can drill in the Arctic is because climate change has warmed the region twice as fast as the rest of the planet and as the ice melts, huge reserves of oil and gas become more accessible. Now, Shell’s ambitious drilling project could dangerously accelerate how fast the planet is warming to a point where there is no way we can save it. At the same time, massive proposed mining projects threaten to completely eliminate what’s left of the native population’s habitat. Many natives are already suffering from cervical cancer and a rare bile duct cancer from eating fish taken from the Athabasca River, polluted from oil production.

Major oil companies eager to exploit the last giant untouched reserves in the world are competing with each other in a part of the world where territorial claims are the least clear. Five countries have territorial claims to land in the Arctic for which no concrete agreement exists, yet: Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark (through Greenland) and the United States (through Alaska).

Drilling for oil is always risky, but Arctic storms are especially strong and cleaning up an oil spill where crude is trapped under ice, would be nightmarishly difficult. Winning the battle to drill here could cost us the war over the planet. Tell participants in the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference that we must unite to save the Arctic from development or we will not save our planet from destruction.


Dear Participants in the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference,

In a single generation, the Arctic has warmed so much it’s become much easier to access. Constant warming means the ice is thinner while ice breaking technology has been improved to cut through it faster. At the same time, the demand for energy and minerals has grown. That deadly combination means the last pristine environment on Earth is easier to exploit, but it doesn’t mean it’s easier to protect. Quite the contrary. Cleaning up an oil spill during the nine dark months of the year when the Arctic is wracked by storms would be the worst sort of nightmare.

Winning the battle to drill could mean we lose the war to save our planet. If we allow monied interests to disregard everything the climate is telling us, we will certainly regret it, but by then it will be too late. Prevent a climate catastrophe. Fight exploitation of the Arctic.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Chas Redmond

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