ANWR Development?

What?  Me Worry?

   From an ecological perspective, the illogic of opening the ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] to oil exploration doesn't simply involve the future contamination within the reserve. The unbelievably irrational aspect of all of this is there are those within the energy industry who would choose to build yet another pipeline instead of investing their capital in renewable sources of energy.

   One must understand that, for the most part, the biome where the arctic preserve is located is nothing more than a desert in the snow. Tundra simply isn't that productive ecologically; as opposed to the rainforests, which are at the opposite end of the spectrum. So any industrialization within this biome is of less concern holistically than say the tragedy currently taking place throughout the forests of our world.

   The truly offensive aspect concerning the proposed looting of this pristine wilderness is the simple fact our civilization needs to move on, to become dependent upon ecologically benign sources of energy; not continue to invest in an archaic technology whose time has long since passed. Drilling within this refuge only exacerbates our species current predicament and postpones the day when our civilization is operating within the balance of nature; not threatening to destroy the web of life with its own rancidness.

   The insanity of placing a pipeline in the ANWR isn't just in the extraction of oil and the "footprint" it will leave within the refuge: it is the burning of petroleum globally, of it entering the biosphere a drop here and a drop there, of it poisoning everything it touches. It is the contamination of every drop of oil upon the ecosystem of our world as a whole, not just the impact within the refuge itself.

   At this point in human history, our species simply doesn't need to be investing in new infrastructures designed to tap, refine and transport crude oil anywhere. The opening of another oil field, especially in this unblemished preserve, is beyond ludicrous and borders upon insanity.

   Energy conglomerates must see the inherent logic of ending the Age of Oil as soon as possible and begin planning their competitive strategies for a world twenty years from now; where the industrialized nations are far more energy efficient and the developing world is powered almost entirely by sustainable energy. The capital they wish to pour into the ANWR should be invested in solar, geothermal and wind power, not frittered upon extracting crude oil no one truly needs.

   India, China and the rest of the developing world could never hope to emulate our western lifestyle, as it currently exists, without causing an ecological collapse. Those companies with the ability to manufacture wind and mine turbines as well as solar panels and other assorted gadgets cheaply and efficiently in the developing world will be the ones capitalizing on the energy markets of tomorrow.

   Yet all economic arguments for renewable sources of energy are dwarfed and shaped by the ecological dimension of the situation. Our planet would appear to be warming, and those in positions to make policy must do something substantial to reverse this trend. You would be hard pressed to find anyone knowledgeable in the climate sciences recommending the development of yet another oil field.

   As the recent oil spill in the Galapagos made all too apparent, our civilization's dependence upon oil threatens all of "God's wondrous creations", not just those who inhabit regions where the oil was originally extracted. Unfortunately, the Galapagos fiasco also sheds light upon the mindset of those within the energy industry. Less than one month after a catastrophe was narrowly averted in the archipelago; the Ecuadorian government signed a contract with Alberta Energy, Agip Petroleum, Kerr-McGee Corp. and Occidental Petroleum to build a heavy-crude pipeline. With the threat of global warming looming largely in the background, why are these companies not investing their capital in ecologically benign sources of energy instead of building yet another pipeline?

W Binder

March, the 17th of..., 2001