Searching for Oil in the North West Passage

The Northwest Passage openPhoto: NASA Earth Observatory

The Canada Border Services Agency has been unusually busy this year. The whole of 2009 saw a total of 9 ships pass through customs in Inuvik, which marks the western end of the north west passage. So far, with the navigation season far from over, 18 ships have successfully run the gauntlet of moving sea ice to traverse the infamously difficult route. As the sea ice diminishes, in direct reaction to global warming, which itself is unnaturally intensified by atmospheric CO2 concentration, it opens a transport lane that brings with it a frenzy of excitement from big oil. Like vultures descending on the only carcass in the savanna, the likes of Shell, Cairn Energy and Repsol are fighting over the potential reserves yet to be found.

Deepwater Horizon Offshore Drilling Platform on FirePhoto: Ideum

While Russian nuclear powered tankers plant territorial flags on the sea floor, US military analysts are considering the tactical implications of the passageway. As shipping companies are adding up the numbers for a potentially cheaper through-road to the west, the Canadian coast guard are warning of drug and weapon trafficking. All the while, the lessons we have learned about fossil fuels, risky drilling and climate change have been forgotten in favour of the prospect of a few more years of high yielding, luxury energy. The carrot is so big the donkey has forgotten the stick has become a shotgun, and that it should forget them both and find a meadow. The desperate death throws of an industry running out of time are evident in the highly reckless and irresponsible methods they are now adopting to secure the last few deposits of fossil fuel energy left on the planet.

Baffin bayPhoto: Mila Zinkova

In the wake of the worst oil disaster in world history, and with the emission reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol increasingly moving out of reach, we yet again see the corporate need for profit overriding the humane, considerate sustainability we should all be working for. The huge amounts of investment spent to make this prospective drilling possible could be used to fund renewable energy projects, renewable research, emission reduction strategies, scientific studies, species protection… the list goes on.

Instead, we are continuing the cycle of self destructive greed that is contributing to the mass extinction of species, loss of habitat, suffering of millions of people and legacy of selfish ignorance the human race is increasingly beginning to leave. Change our minds, change our fuel and change the world.

The melting of sea icePhoto: world360

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