Tue Jun 19, 2012, 07:00 PM
hatrack (36,720 posts)
Drilling The Arctic, Obama-Style: "We Can't Stop It. We Can Only Make It Less Bad."
The geophysical facts of global warming and climate change have caused much anxiety in human society by generating conflicts between people with localized fears about the unknown global outcome (for example, the people of the Maldives who observe a rising sea level and fear the imminent inundation and loss of their island nation) and people who fear that personal economic loses will result from accepting changes to industrial and financial practices they benefit from. So far, the dominant fear and thus controlling factor in humanity’s response to the realization of its own influence on climate change, by its profligate waste heat pollution, is the fear of economic loss, the yin side of a capitalism whose yang side is the exultation of successful exploitation. We have our left feet firmly planted on our gas pedals for an accelerating ride into unknown global changes with local color, and nobody and nothing damn well better get in our way to try and stop us.
The dominance of this attitude in the United States was tellingly exposed in a New York Times story by John M. Broder and Clifford Krauss, on the 23rd of May 2012, titled “New and Frozen Frontier Awaits Offshore Oil Drilling“. The essence of the story is that President Barack Obama has been pushing hard for Arctic offshore oil drilling by the Shell Oil Company since shortly after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico during the spring and summer of 2010. Because of global warming, the Arctic ice cap is shrinking and an expanding area of the Arctic Ocean is being cleared of its sea ice. This facilitates marine navigation for oil exploration, and the construction and operation of offshore oil drilling platforms above the Arctic Circle. Thus, global warming is making it possible for our technological selves to extract Arctic fossil hydrocarbons, which offers the roving gamblers in the oil game a potentially abundant infusion of mined and privatized profitability, threatens the viability of the Arctic eco-system and the Inuit people’s way of life should oil spills be catastrophic or simply chronic, and feeds the oil consuming public’s desire to continue their positive feedback into the global warming cycle.
It is heartening to read in the NYT story that a number of federal agencies and “government bureaucrats” (a.k.a. government workers focused on the public interest) took their regulatory and stewardship duties seriously and, despite presidential pressure, held up some of the exploratory drilling permits sought by Shell Oil Company, because the hazards were deemed too great and the justifications in the permit applications deemed too skimpy (NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, worried about the threats to marine life, the Coast Guard’s concern is that no assured method of oil spill containment and cleanup exists now for seas with pack ice).
But, we gotta’ have it. “We can’t stop it,” said one senior agency official (quoted by Broder and Krauss) who had qualms about Arctic drilling but understood the president’s wishes. “We can only make it less bad.”
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Drilling The Arctic, Obama-Style: "We Can't Stop It. We Can Only Make It Less Bad." (Original post)