Environmental Impact Of Oil
Someone told me yesterday that the company behind the gigantic Trans-Alaska Pipeline (the longest oil pipeline in the world) is, “scared of the tree-huggers and environmentalists.”
“That’s me,” I thought.
And scared they should be! The battle between Arcticenvironmentalists and Big Oil has been raging since before I was born. It began in 1970, with 3 ½ years of litigation as the proposal to build the pipeline worked its way through state and federal governmental agencies.
Finally, in November 1973, Big Oil got Presidential approval to begin construction. But the environmentalists and tree-huggers have never truly abandoned the battlefield. And over the past three weeks, the conflict has been reignited in the headlines:
• August 25: The Houston Chronicle reported Trump’s Arctic Drilling Plan Challenged Over Polar Bear Threat
• September 9: CNN reported 15 States Sue Trump Administration Over Alaskan Arctic Oil and Gas Leasing.
• Just 48 hours ago, the Houston Chronicle was back with Oil Titans Mulling Arctic Drilling Targeted By Activist Groups
Of these articles, I found CNN’s most alarming. It says of the plaintiffs’ case:
“The 19 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge had been closed to oil exploration since 1980 due to concerns about the effect it would have on the region’s caribou, polar bears and other animals.”
and continues with this quote from the lawsuit:
“Defendants’ actions severely underestimate the avoidable and irreparable damage to vital habitat and pristine waters, imperil wildlife already struggling to thrive in a rapidly changing ecosystem, and increase greenhouse gas emissions at a time when our nation and the world drastically need to reduce emissions to mitigate the most extreme harms of climate change.”
I more than welcome the angry response from my fellow environmentalists. Yet, after what I’ve seen while traveling the pipeline’s lower half between Fairbanks and its Valdez terminus?
The pipe itself seems no more invasive that train tracks or a road. I know from recent experience, the roads can be deadly for wild animals. So, when was the last time 15 states sued over a road being built in Alaska?
I’m concerned, of course, that flowing through the pipe is a precious natural resource. But as I posted last week, “Idon’t blame the bulldozer drivers, farmers or fishermen.” Now, I might add, “or the pipe fitters.”
I blame us, the consumers. When we stop demanding oil, they’ll stop drilling and building pipelines.
Put another way – I hate that our nation is considering further exploitation of the Arctic. But if I’m being honest?The oil companies are simply supplying our demand.
I’d love to see much of the rage and money directed tostopping Arctic drilling redirected to slowing meat and dairy production to a trickle.
According to National Geographic, that alone will dramatically lower our need for oil. And will have a world-altering impact on not a few, but a million species.
From the World Wildlife Fund’s report released last week, that’s how many are under threat of extinction as we destroy wild animal habitats “… at a rate unprecedented in history.”
Being interviewed for a September 10 CNN article, The WWF’s chief scientist Rebecca Shaw explained:
“The main driver of species decline is the habitat destruction that comes from … expanding agricultural production, to produce food … We are destroying rainforests to convert the land to cropland to feed a growing planet and the growing demand for food, in general, and animal protein, in particular.”
How do Shaw’s rainforests relate to the Trans-Alaska pipeline thousands of miles away?
The meat and livestock-feeding crops from South America are shipped all over the world. Just as the oil transported through the pipeline is destined for distant shores.
There is no question, however, that meat-industrydevastation in the Amazon far surpasses that of oil-industry devastation in the Arctic.
We environmentalists are freaking out over a serious, but comparatively small, issue in the Arctic while ignoring the much more pressing Amazonian problem — because protesting animal protein might change our dinner plans!
If in the morning, my choices were to protest in front of the Valdez oil pipeline terminal or in front of the local restaurant serving bacon and eggs?
I call that a no-brainer. The oil company has nothing to fear from me tomorrow!