Take Action

There’s a reason scientists call it “the world’s air conditioner.”

The Arctic cools the entire planet down and regulates our climate. The Arctic impacts each and every one of us.

In addition to regulating the world’s climate, the Arctic is one of the world’s greatest features, home to innumerable species- including our own.

Generations of native populations have made this beautiful place their home. Unique creatures including polar bears, Arctic foxes and the majestic narwhal depend on the Arctic for their survival. However global warming is causing temperatures to rise in the Arctic faster than anywhere else. Arctic ice is melting fast. People and animals are quickly losing their homes, and, as ice stored in Arctic glaciers melts, sea levels the world over rise.

The health of the Arctic is a signal of the health of our global ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the very people responsible for global warming—fossil fuel companies and the governments who take their money—are on the other side. In a show of unbelievable cynicism and disregard for all life, they want to exploit the Arctic’s new accessibility to drill for oil. That oil, of course, will only push global warming further along.

Why the Arctic Matters

  • About 13 million people, across eight countries, populate what is known as the ‘circumpolar north,’ or the area surrounding the Arctic. Among these are millions of indigenous people, comprised of more than 40 distinct ethnic and cultural groups. As the Arctic disappears, so does the land of their heritage, languages, and ways of life. For this reason alone, destroying the Arctic is nothing less than a global crime.
  • Arctic ice and the terrestrial arctic are home to mammal species like the polar bear, the arctic fox, the caribou, and the musk ox. All of these animals are in great danger of losing their primary home.
  • Arctic waters host many whale species, including belugas, narwhals, and orcas. Ringed seals spend most of the year underneath arctic ice, and walruses, whose numbers are only now making a comeback, live solely in the arctic and subarctic waters of the north.
  • The Arctic plays a vital role in regulating the planet’s climate. Sometimes called the refrigerator of the northern hemisphere, a frozen Arctic and chilly Arctic waters help maintain the fine balance that keeps our world habitable. As the Arctic melts and warms, we continue to move toward an unpredictable and dangerous new normal. And as the Arctic melts, climate change only gets worse, which makes the Arctic melt faster. This phenomenon, known as a positive feedback, means that climate change accelerates itself.  Protecting the ice means protecting us all.

  • A vast majority of people on the planet support the establishment of a global arctic sanctuary. A recent survey revealed that 74% of people across 30 different countries on six continents support the establishment of a global sanctuary in the international waters around the north pole. 71% of those people believe that the entire Arctic should be free of oil drilling and other heavy industry.

The oil industry and the Arctic

Not satisfied with the damage they have already done, oil companies are now eyeing the Arctic. As glaciers and sea ice retreat and melt because of global warming, and as more and more of the Arctic exists as open water for at least part of the year, the oil under Arctic waters is increasingly becoming their most coveted target.

Let’s just think about that for a second. The oil that was once inaccessible because the Arctic was frozen most of the year is now accessible because of global warming. And the very companies responsible for global warming now wants to go into the Arctic to get more oil to make global warming worse.

And all this while a majority of people on the planet think that the Arctic is too precious to mess around with.

That global majority knows one thing that oil companies could never comprehend: Arctic oil is infinitely more valuable to the earth and all life if it is kept in the ground.

And it’s not just long-term climate change that has us worried. Ever heard of Exxon-Valdez? BP Deepwater Horizon? Remember how severe and long-lasting those spills were? Remember how difficult “clean-up” was? Remember how even years after those spills occurred, local local wildlife, communities, and economies were still struggling to recover?

Facts are facts

No oil company has successfully cleaned up a major spill. 

  • The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s remote Prince William Sound. Exxon spent $2 billion trying to clean up and recovered less than 7% of the oil spilled. The BP Deepwater Horizon blowout spilled up to 200 million barrels. Of that, only about 8% of oil was recovered from the surface or from beaches or burned off.
  • In Prince William Sound, only 13 of 32 monitored ecosystems, populations, and resource services are considered as recovered or very likely recovered. The long-term damage from the Deepwater Horizon are still not known, but studies have already shown lasting illnesses in marine species like seabirds and dolphins, genetic mutations in fish species, higher rates of sea turtle stranding. Impacts to the economy and local communities are still unclear, but suffice to say Gulf tourism and seafood are two of the primary features of local culture
  • Oil spills are preventable only if we leave the oil in the ground.  An oil spill in the Arctic, with its ferocious weather conditions, brutal isolation, and it’s near complete lack of clean up equipment, will be virtually impossible to clean up.  There is no safe way to drill in the Arctic; the extreme conditions make it too risky.

It has already started

  • In collaboration with the Russian government, Gazprom, Russia’s semi-national oil giant, has already begun Arctic drilling. In the summer of 2014, the first shipment of Arctic oil was sent to port in the Netherlands. The oil was so scant and of such bad quality that it had a hard time selling.
  • With the collusion of the American government, Shell Oil is venturing North in American waters. In 2012 and 2013, its first foray—or should we say bungle—was with the outdated and rusty Kulluk drill rig. Rough seas and weather caused the Kulluk to run aground. The crew was evacuated by helicopter. Not a good sign.
  • The Obama Administration is not fulfilling its responsibility to the nation and future generations. It is allowing companies like Shell to pursue drilling in the Arctic without adequate regulation or oversight, opening up the potential for a devastating spill. Obama must take decisive action to save the Arctic by canceling existing leases and refusing future leases in the  Arctic Ocean.