Arctic Drilling – Why It Shouldn′t Happen
The world is facing a lot of changes ranging from ozone layer depletion to rising ocean levels. All the changes that are being experienced are attributed to the daily human activities such as the subsistence activities and economical activities. Among the many human activities being carried is mining. Since time immemorial human beings have carried out mining of natural resources as a major economic activity. With the increased value of resources mined, more and more people are being enticed into venturing into the mining industry.
Ultimately, the demand for the resources is exceeding supply and people are being forced to look deeper into the earth resources to find a place convenient for all the miners. As such, a lot of geological studies are being done to locate areas where the natural resources lies. One of the most sort for resource is oil. Oil drilling was initially done in the dry land and mostly in the deserts. However, the case has since changed and people are set to exploit the oil that lies deep in the arctic water (Shumenko, 2011). This has not only raised alarm from the environmentalists but has also attracted a lot of interest from scholars with the aim of understanding the dangers that artic oil mining poses to the environment and the earth as a whole.
The artic is home for both humans and animals which depend on the unique ecosystem for survival. One of the major problems that arctic drilling holds is safety for both the environment and people. Drilling in the artic is a risky venture with emergency and spill response rate being low due to the distance from the coastline and the coast guard base. The arctic is characterised by unpredictable ice conditions, fierce weather and months of darkness which make it impossible to prevent an oil spill from damaging the environment and the ecosystem. The damage to the ecosystem ultimately lead to wiping off of the wildlife and the habitats of the arctic (Shumenko, 2011).
Another critical problem is the effect of the drilling to the planet earth. The earth is already facing a major problem from the carbon (IV) oxide released during the burning of fossil fuels. The gas is already disrupting the climate and health of the oceans which puts the natural system and the human at jeopardy (Schmidt, 2011). An introduction of oil drilling at the arctic will be adding more danger to the already existing problem since the emission of carbon dioxide gas will increase and the efforts that were initially put in place to reduce the emission will be rendered futile. Emissions not only affect the area around the arctic but it has a long term effect to the whole world.
The increased carbon emission has been among the greenhouse gases that causes the depletion of ozone layer which ultimately leads to the increased heating of the earth. The oceanic ice has been melting rapidly posing danger to the creatures that depend on the ice for habitat, reproduction, feeding and raising of the young ones. The arctic wildlife is being forced to migrate in search for food and home. The consequences of melting ice is the depletion of wildlife due to destruction of its habitat. The case causes imbalance in the ecosystem (Schmidt, 2011).
Climatic change has been attributed to the pollution of environment by various gases emitted during the drilling process. With the ocean levels rising, many people living along the coast are faced with dangers of flooding of the coast. Although oil drilling is an economic activity favourable to many people, it has a lot of negative impacts to the people. Employees of the drilling firms are faced with health complication due to the harsh arctic climate as well as the gases emitted during the process. The warming up of the arctic is faster twice that of the rest of the world which makes the melting of ice faster hence the previously inaccessible oil and gas resources turn out to be easily exploited. However, the easy accessibility of the oil and gas does not warrant the drilling in the arctic.
Previously, various companies have indulged in the arctic oil drilling business. In the year 2013, Russia broke the ice with its Prirazlomnaya project. The project was the first arctic oil drilling platform in the world. Another company that ventured in the oil drilling in the arctic is Shell Oil Company. The company has invested a lot of money on leases and permits in a quest to venture in drilling at Chukchi seas in Alaska. It was at the approval of the company to carry out the drilling by us regulators that brought a major setback and devastating case to the environmentalists. Among the concerns raised by environmentalist about extracting of oil in the arctic is the noise.
The drilling process is characterised by several phases and processes of oil development. Among the processes include, “seismic exploration, exploration drilling, production platforms, pipeline terminals and tankers” (Steiner, 1993). The acoustic disturbance has effects to the marine mammals as the underwater noises affects the migration, reproduction communication and other functions of the sea creatures which leads to displacement of population of the creatures from their natural habitats. Another concern is the remoteness of the mines from the shore which makes it hard to clean up in case of a spill in the ocean. The sea ice is another major setback in the oil drilling as even when there is a response team to clean up the spill, their options are always limited due to the inaccessibility due to the high ice presence in the arctic(Manzetti, 2014).
The characteristic of the arctic has more effects to the drilling of oil. There are major setbacks that arises in the process of drilling which makes it hard to carry on. Even though the oil drilling company manages to drill the oil, the response teams in case of any danger or spills are unable to respond to the emergency in time. A case of spill may take a lot of time before the cleaning is done (Manzetti, 2014). With the slow response it means that the ecological damage will be high. It is difficult to recover from all the damage caused to the ecosystem since an oil spill can cause widespread mortality of the arctic wildlife.
The slow ecological recovery means that there will be a significant decrease in the general sustainability of populations with some facing permanent reduction. The process is a threat to the endangered species rendering them extinct. If at all the world is to remain a better place, there is need to conserve the environment. The conservation starts at looking into issues that may cause imbalance in any aspect of the environment and consequently deal with the climate changes by practising the use of clean and safe energy. The use of clean energy will mean that the demand for oil reduces and hence the need to drill oil in the arctic to balance the demand reduces.
Manzetti, S. (2014). Remediation technologies for oil-drilling activities in the Arctic: oil-spill containment and remediation in open water. Environmental Technology Reviews, 3(1), 49-60.
Schmidt, C. (2011). Arctic Oil Drilling Plans Raise Environmental Health Concerns. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(3), a116-a117.
Shumenko, R. (2011). Arctic oil and gas. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers.
Steiner, R. (1993). Government, industry and public management of the seas in the 21st century. Marine Policy, 17(5), 399-403.