THE RAPE OF THE ARCTIC:
Is Global Warming Being Used to Open the Arctic to Exploitation?
By Cheryl Seal
Everyone knows that the fossil fuel barons - i.e., the purveyors of oil, natural gas, and coal - have vehemently fought against the Kyoto Protocol and any other significant measures that might slow global warming. ExxonMobil and Western Fuel Association have funneled millions of dollars into phony "science" material and "expert testimony" to debunk global warming, often using reprehensibly stealthy methods. Bush's "secret energy task force" was stacked with oil and coal barons - but no representatives from the alternative fuel community. Since taking office, Bush has granted nearly every global-warming-fueling wish the fossil fuel barons could ever have desired: lavishing billions in tax breaks, proposing the construction of hundreds of new coal-burning power plants, handing out drilling leases like a drunken sailor, selling off or leasing for next to nothing hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands for "exploration" (Wyoming alone now has over 30,000 new oil and natural gas wells); loosening clean air standards, revising EPA standards for monitoring pollution to let more emissions slip "under the radar," stinting on any serious funding for alternative fuel development, blocking or delaying any energy conservation regulations, etc. ad nauseum.
But, one might well wonder: Why would anyone want to do anything to risk the health of the planet upon which we all must live?
Easy. The same reason that all such outrages have ever been committed throughout time: Greed. By fueling global warming, the fossil fuel barons stand to actually gain - and gain a great deal. It has been revealed that as the arctic ice melts, huge reserves of oil, natural gas and coal are becoming more readily accessible. Last November, Alex Duval-Smith wrote in the "Guardian, " "The 14 million sq km Arctic Ocean is home to 25 per cent of the planet's unextracted oil and natural gas. With a population of four million, the region is much more stable than the Middle East. Global warming, in combination with the current high oil price, makes it ever more accessible." The artificially high oil prices, in fact, may have been engineered as funding for the polar "black gold rush." And with no pesky polar ice, there will be a whole new streamlined shipping lane between Atlantic and Pacific - saving the fossil fuel barons billions - savings that, as their track record shows, will never be passed on to consumers.
And as to being "stabler than the Middle East," that may not last for long as the "gold rush" heats up. Territorial disputes are already erupting. Duval-Smith writes: "Norway and Russia are soon to resume talks - stalled for two years - over a disputed area of the Barents Sea. While an agreement exists between them allowing fishing in part of the area, known as the Grey Zone, both countries want access to the larger disputed area for oil and gas exploration. Immediately to the east of the area, the Russians have discovered the 1,400sq km Shtokman field, the largest offshore gas deposit in the world. Resolution of the dispute could have an impact on the entire Arctic area.....A dispute between Denmark and Canada this year over Hans Island - an uninhabited rock off Greenland - centres on the potential for oil in the Nares Strait. There are outstanding disputes between the US and Canada over the North West Passage and the Beaufort Sea. The Russian parliament has yet to ratify a 1990 agreement with the US dividing the Bering Sea. Only a small international body, the Arctic Council, exists to mediate."
Does this sound like a scenario in which the fossil fuel barons are likely to WANT global warming mitigated? I think not. And if you think that my accusation is somehow an over-the-top assessment of corporate behavior, consider the behavior of the coal barons in recent years. Once the equipment was developed that was capable of ripping the tops off mountains to get at coal cheaply, quickly, and by paying fewer workers, did the coal industry balk, concerned by the environmental devastation and human misery the process would cause - or the loss of property and life that would be caused by erosion-driven floods? Hardly. (for more about the tragedy of mountain top removal, read “Tragic Mountains” by Brett McCabe). So just what makes anyone think such parasites would be above promoting global warming as their ticket to a new "frontier" of easy exploitation? No one who has even a limited grasp of history.
Once again, the stampede to the Arctic, like most major corporate outrages, has managed to elude public scrutiny because the US media is, as always NOT doing its job and informing the public. As a result, the Arctic Onslaught is already in full swing. As may be the decline of Planet Earth.
MUST READ: "Arctic booms as climate change melts polar ice cap" http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0