Protect the Arctic permanently—Now
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This article was written by the NooWorld Editorial Team. To submit an article for publication, please write email@example.com
Oil and gas wells leak. That’s not the exception—it’s the rule. And the deeper the well and more extreme the environment, the more likely it is to leak.
Experts estimate that the Arctic’s as-yet untapped fossil-fuel reserves make up an eye-watering 13 percent of the world’s unused oil and 30 percent of its unused natural gas. Accessing those supplies would involve deep, dangerous drilling, in extreme weather conditions, in a remote region without the infrastructure to quickly respond to a leak. And remember: no company has ever successfully cleaned up a major oil spill.
In short, oil and gas drilling in the Arctic—and the inevitable leaks it would cause—would be catastrophic for an already severely threatened ecosystem. The Arctic Ocean is warming more quickly than any climate models predicted, endangering perhaps the world’s most critical region for climate stability, which also happens to be home to four million people and countless animals, including endangered species such as the polar bear and the Arctic fox.
So what’s the current status of oil and gas exploration in the Arctic? Thankfully, the Biden administration has revoked some of Trump’s executive orders that opened the region to fossil-fuel projects. But this fight is far from over. There are still no permanent protections in place—and worse, some leases on Arctic land have already been sold to fossil-fuel developers. In a last attack on the Arctic before leaving office, the Trump administration tried to auction off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Thankfully, the sale was a flop, making $14 million as opposed to the slated $900 million. Even so, 600,000 acres have now been leased to fossil-fuel developers, making it even more difficult to stop dirty infrastructure and dangerous drilling moving in.
We need permanent protections against Arctic oil and gas drilling, now. Here’s why:
WHAT‘S AT STAKE
- Global climate stability: tapping vast new reserves of oil and gas will, without doubt, send the global climate beyond any manageable tipping point.
- Pristine ecosystems: the Arctic is already severely threatened by rising temperatures. Adding dirty infrastructure would destroy an already delicate ecosystem.
- Indigenous rights: the Arctic is home and ancestral ground to many indigenous peoples, who have been fighting oil and gas exploration in the region for years.
- At-risk species: destroying the Arctic would drive countless threatened species to extinction, including the Arctic fox, polar bears, beluga whales, narwhals, walruses, and more.
TAKE ACTION: FROM HOME
- Sign Arctic Refuge Defense’s petition for long-term protections for the Arctic refuge.
- Use Earthjustice’s tool to tell your member of Congress to fight to protect the Arctic.
- Sign the National Resources Defense Council’s petition to the Biden-Harris administration for Arctic protections.
- Join the Sierra Club’s campaign against Arctic drilling.
- Take Action with Defend The Sacred Alaska
Though no major US banks will now fund Arctic drilling, it’s still essential to Stop the Money Pipeline and hit Big Energy where it hurts, so they can’t destroy any more pristine ecosystems. Check out XR’s divest toolkit and the resources from the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition.