The Arctic environment really is really unique quiet corner of the planet earth, which in most part has been left alone from commercial interests for mining and drilling the Arctic natural resources. The Arctic area with sea ice at least 15% of the sea surface is observed and documented for Scientific analysis. The Arctic sea ice area fluctuates according to the cycles of winter and summer seasons, and there are also large variations from year to year cycles. The recorded average between 1981-2010 was over 6 Million square kilometers. Most recently between 2012-2013 the Sea ice area dipped below 4 Million square kilometers.
The polar region during the winter is mostly covered with ice and permafrost, there is only some partial tree cover and protection on the rim of the Arctic Circle, and inside the proper polar region it is entirely treeless. Which makes it more vulnerable and subjected to rapid climate changes, the cap is held together by frozen ice and snow cover. So why should anyone care? What goes on in that part of the planet, where the eyes of the people are not watching?
Antarctic case study
Well a good case study can be found in the Antarctic region, much can be learned from the history of the Antarctic, and it has become more of International Science project than a quick cash fix and economic rush for its hidden riches and resources in crude oil and mineral deposits. It is therefore not surprising that the question of a special Arctic treaty has been raised since the nature of self-serving humanity is well documented by history.
But does the world need more raw materials, or should the world learn to be more efficient with what it has already achieved and produced, at least in the default lifestyle standards as in the Western World. For example, how much less would the world use if it gave up on the idea of using motor vehicles for recreational use when at the same time there are health problems related to poor health overweight, and obese peoples.
Recreational driving of motor vehicles on the weekends for many hours just for fun (it’s the year 2013 now), it is possible that other alternatives to be discovered instead of indulging in the recreational burning of fossil fuels, the invention of the wheel is said to have been the greatest invention, so why not use push bikes for the weekend recreation. The problem of the fossil fuels being used by transport vehicles and other vehicles is that they consume a ton of fuel and they are relatively inefficient in what they give in return. Maybe the consuming world should stop, and think hard for a while, and count the cost, what is important, what really matters, does it make sense to continue consuming and producing carbon dioxide emissions at the current rate, which transportation emissions produce around the world as it burns tons of fuel in the process contentiously per each minute, day and night.
Irreversible World Population spike
The Arctic is a delicate and fragile environment, affected by temperature changes of the climate and the interference of the environment by mining of the natural resources and the human migration and occupation of the natural areas, which in turn produce exhaust and heating omissions and food and water waste. Since the early history a large percentage of the humanity has proven to being creative, innovative in the development to provide better housing, warmer clothing and foot ware, reliable food sources and drinking water, a better understanding of good health and health care and also secured a safer future, by extending the average life span at places by a double.
The global population in year 1 AD was approximate 200 million, today there are more than 200 million people in Brazil. By the year 1000 AD the world population was over 275 million, today there are more than 600 million people in North America. In the year 1500 AD the world population was over 450 million, today there are more than 600 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean combined. Today there are more than 7000 million (7 Billion) people on the planet earth. That is an increase of over 370 %. World population.
“China and the United States were the main engines driving fossil fuel markets in 2004, accounting between them for nearly half the increase in world oil demand”.
“Ten countries are responsible for about two thirds of global carbon emissions from fuel use. The United States, with 5 percent of the world’s population, accounts for nearly a quarter of the total. Between 1990 and 2003, U.S. energy-related emissions rose 16 percent. China ranks second, with a 14-percent share.”.
“Oil is the world’s primary fuel source for transportation. Most oil is pumped out of underground reservoirs, but it can also be found imbedded in shale and tar sands”.
Arctic Industrial revolution
Since the early days of human development especially during the big push from the Industrial revolution, technology has increased momentum in leaps and bounds, and the increase of industrial, travel, domestic and recreational carbon emissions are said to be causing a greenhouse effect that is affecting the climate of the world with global warming, which in turn is affecting the North Polar Circle region of the Arctic.
Unfortunately, the evidence of change is already showing up, that the Arctic sea ice on average, comparing years 1981 to 2010, and 2012 to 2013. The Arctic sea ice had reduced by 1/3, which is dramatic. The first reactions by the large mining corporations were not of alarm but rather triumphed optimism for new opportunities unheard of in the previous decades with the old technology. If the global warming continues and the North Polar region continues to break up and melt then that will open the Arctic region up for humans to explore in more ways that imagined before. Not that the Ice barrier has stopped the pioneers from exploring, both of the polar regions were discovered a long time ago. And also, the far distance and the lack of oxygen has not stopped the pioneers of space going to the moon and also sending rovers to the planet Mars, at a great expense. But part of the full story is that there is a green eyed monster inside the Oil coveting corporations defended by their States that are hell bent of getting there to the Oil fields and Mineral riches before others beat them to it. They are lusting after the natural resources like crazy,k which in their greedy for natural resources minds is the last Bonanza of the last exploitation frontier.
What about the Arctic future?
Oil and gas companies want to drill, and they want to do it in the already fragile environment. Drilling in the Arctic most likely would have dire consequences:
- A natural sanctuary for unique Arctic fauna and flora
- Extreme cold environment to work in
- Drilling is an aggressive violent act to Nature
- As with anywhere, there is the threat of an oil spill
- Clean ups and rescues much more complicated by the extreme freeze
- Exploitation viral to the last corners of the planet
There is also the opportunity in history to stop and to re-consider the sanity of the high consumer consumption and the trends it is setting globally for the technologically and economically undeveloped world. The mindless blowing of fossil fuels into the air. Humanity needs good clean oxygen much more than they need smoke pollution in the cities and smog polluted working areas.
By letting go of all the stops and allowing drilling to go ahead regardless of what impact it may have on the natural environment, it is a value statement to the global community, saying nothing else matters as much in their society and in their part of the world as the exploitation and the consumption of the natural resources. To burn up the fossil fuels and grind and drill the raw minerals selfishly from the underwater mountains of the Arctic.
Also in theory the carbon emissions raised greenhouse gases which cause global warming to increase. The increase in global warming destroys the sea ice. Professor Rick Steiner from the Oasis Earth Sustainability Consultancy wrote the Guardian saying:
“Put simply, oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean cannot be done safely – there will be chronic degradation, there will be spills…And, perhaps a larger issue is that all of the carbon produced from the Arctic seabed will ultimately be emitted into the global atmosphere and oceans, further compounding climate change that is already devastating the Arctic ecosystem.”
Along with oil and gas drilling, the Arctic is opened up to fishing grounds and shipping routes. Overfishing is a risk with the Arctic ice receding. As for shipping, in 2012 forty-six ships carrying a total of 1.3 million tons of goods used the route from Russia to China. The new route will reduce the distance and reduce the emissions per delivery, but the risks will increase in the extreme environment, such as oil spills from unexpected accidents.
The agenda of the oil and mineral exploration companies is not to protect the environment, any more than a hunter of wild animals will be contemplating the seasonal cycles and the souls of the wild animals, and what is the real value of the kill to the hunters personality. Will the beauty of the natural wild animals somehow add value to the killer hunters self worth. They move with a primitive tunnel vision to their target to bag it. So far, it seems no company has the technology or infrastructure available to deal with the Arctic’s unique climate, it is off the radar. But that doesn’t stop the oil and gas companies from pushing for drilling rights. The rewards in the mining right of the Arctic may promise employment for many hundreds of people, but they consider the alternatives, they don’t count the cost to the Natural environment, that has intrinsic beauty, and typically they will not make sacrifices in their personal lives for those things that have moral and spiritual value.