Search Results for Tag: Oil
Obama, McCain, Oil Reserves – and Paris Hilton?
Would you really want to give up areas like this:
To get more of this – at all costs?
Polls show that the economy and the high price of gasoline are the most important issues for American voters in the run-up to the Presidential election on November 4th. And the oil issue really seems to have taken over the campaigns of both candidates. John McCain has been pushing nuclear energy and more offshore oil drilling. Barack Obama has been doing the opposite – except that he seems to be bowing to pressure somewhat by saying he would agree to some drilling after all. Come on Barack, stick to your principles! Meanwhile, John McCain has livened up the debate – and attracted a whole new group of voters to the climate and energy issue – by drawing Paris Hilton into it all. He used pictures of her and Britney Spears in a television spot, aimed at attacking the “celebrity” cult around his rival Obama. Paris Hilton has had her “revenge” in her own spoof election ad – with her campaigning for President.
The New Candidate (just for fun)
On the serious side, the issue of expanding drilling is getting increasingly worrying. Polls suggest two-thirds of Americans would support lifting the current federal moratorium, which has been in place for 27 years. President Bush has called on Congress to lift its ban on drilling in the outer continental shelf and the Alaskan wildlife reserve. The problem is that people are looking for a quick way to reduce their fuel bills. Short of reducing consumption, there is none.
DateAugust 6, 2008 | 7:54 am
Back on the Blog
The only Arctic areas I’ve seen in the last few weeks have been from the air.
(Doesn’t this remind you of a dino in the snow?)
Exactly one month since the last entry, I’m back at my desk in Deutsche Welle in Bonn and raring to blog.I’ve been in the USA during an interesting time, with the election campaign in full swing – and climate change high on the agenda. People are finally accepting that global warming is not just a figment of somebody’s imagination.
(Pools forming from melting snow in the Arctic).
It’s interesting to see both candidates falling over each other to be the one to save the planet from global warming. With oil prices as they are, the debate over opening protected areas, like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, for oil exploration,has been a real eye-opener. At the beginning of my trip, Republican contender John McCain was still opposing offshore drilling. During it, he changed his mind and approved President Bush’s decision to lift the ban, supposedly to make more oil available and have an impact on prices. It seems to me the only likely impact is to appeal to any gullible, undecided voters, who might be fooled into thinking this is the way to give them cheap gas.
Barack Obama stood firm in opposing further offshore drilling. And his fellow Democrat Al Gore issued a challenge to the nation to make a complete shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy within 10 years. Well, that is, indeed, an ambitious goal, but then – as Gore said – so was putting a man on the moon. Where there’s a (political) will, there’s a way.
One of the interesting things I came across while travelling in the US state of Washington was the Western Climate Initiative, a group of North American states seeking ways of reducing emissions. It shows that a lot can be done at regional level, even if there is a national government which refused to sign Kyoto or introduce binding emissions targets.
More info on the Climate Alliance of US and Canadian states
If anyone living in a country with a “developing economy” and working on a local sustainable energy project is reading this, by the way, you might be interested in applying for an award. You’ll find the details here:
Global Green Energy Awards 2008
During a conference at Stanford University in California, I felt the effect of the forest fires, creating smog over the whole area. In fact smoke from forest fires is being measured even in the remote areas of the Arctic. One measuring station is in Barrow, which I visited just last month:
The other is on Svalbard, in the Norwegian Arctic, which I visited for a programme last year, as part of our National Science Foundation-funded international radio collaboration to mark the International Polar Year:
More Arctic and Climate News from the NSF
Picture Gallery from Ny Alesund, Svalbard
I found it a bit bizarre to read this morning that there is something like a positive side-effect of all this: it could temporarily reduce the melting rate of the Arctic’s ice, because less solar radiation gets through. Researchers from the University of Colorado and NOAA are analyzing how smoke influences the Arctic climate relative to the amount of snow and ice cover.
Read a summary on the website, CIRES and University of Colorado
One of the big topics at the conference I was attending at Stanford a month ago was how climate change will result in increasing migration, with people forced to move to escape flooding, drought or extreme temperatures and weather conditions. I was interested to read today that there are some optimists who see climate change not only as a huge threat to the planet, but also as an opportunity to turn politics into “collective action” – by including ALL countries in tackling the challenge, not just the rich.
I’ll sign off today with that piece of food for thought. Here’s the link to the article. (Go on, it’s a shortie, I promise).
Climate Change as an Opportunity for Cosmopolitan Action? (By Ulrich Beck)
DateJuly 23, 2008 | 10:39 am
Fuelling the Melt of the Arctic?
The Arctic made its way into the headlines again at the end of last week, when the five Arctic coastal nations met in Greenland to discuss sovereignty over the Arctic seabed.
Denmark, Norway, Russia, Canada and the United States are the countries concerned. Wouldn’t it be great if they were negotiating on who could do the most to protect this unique and fragile area? Of course what they are actually concerned about is who will have access to natural resources – for instance the right to drill for oil once the seabed becomes more easily accessible because global warming is melting the ice.
(The airport at Alaska’s oil centre, Prudhoe Bay).
The environmental groups were not invited to the meeting. As you might expect, most of them are concerned about the rush to exploit the Arctic further as soon as possible. One suggestion is to have a treaty similar to that regulating the Antarctic, which bans military activity and mineral mining, but this was rejected by the “Arctic 5”. Greenpeace Nordic campaigner Lindsay Keenan put the bizarre situation in a nutshell when he told Reuters “they are going to use the law of the sea to carve up the raw materials, but they are ignoring the law of common sense. These are the same fossil fuels that are driving climate change in the first place”. Good point Mr. Keenan. Greenpeace points out that the world already has four times more fossil fuel reserves than it can afford to burn.
DateJune 4, 2008 | 11:08 am
Meeting the Inupiat (the Tale of the Whale)
We left our overnight stop in Anchorage at 4am after two and a half hours of sleep, bound for Barrow, 330 miles above the Arctic Circle, northernmost point in the USA and home to the ancient Inupiaq culture.
The Inupiaq name is Ukpiagvik, which means “place to hunt the snowy owls”. The locals themselves say this is probably one of the harshest locations in the Arctic.
All about Barrow
The plane to Barrow stops at Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, “the oil place”. I was sandwiched between two oil-workers, the one in dungares and baseball cap, the other in his parka and woolly hat – all the way to Prudhoe Bay. We had to get de-iced in between, there was some snow in the air – and of course plenty on the ground. Outside the air was prickling with ice crystals – inside the cabin, with steadily rising excitement in our small group of Europeans. Airfields with snow-ploughs and tiny terminal buildings. A taste of travel in Arctic Alaska. There is no road to Barrow. The air connection is the lifeline.
We were met by Alice, coordinator at BASC, the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, which is hosting us and providing our accommodation. She’s a real character and one of the most welcoming and hospitable people I’ve ever come across. In her informal, chatty way, as she drives us from the airport, she is teaching us a lot about her Eskimo heritage – and the role it still plays in everyday life in Barrow.
The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium
This is whale-hunting country – difficult for a lot of us, concerned as we are to “save the whales”. One of the Eskimos joked “is this the Greenpeace lot”? Of course we understand the difference between subsistence whaling as part of the indigenous culture and commercial whaling. And we’ve learned a lot about the Inupiat culture today and just how central the “harvesting” of a limited quota of bowhead whales is to it. Still, I found it hard to stomach all the details of the hunt – let alone the result. And that was definitely the dish of the day. In the Heritage Centre, we learned all about it. Then, at short notice, Alice told us we were invited to a feast.
When the “whaling captain”’s family has finished preparing and cooking up the whale meat, blubber and innards, the whole village is invited to come and eat and take away bags for the family. All generations were collected in the “Captain”’s kitchen. It’s clearly a very special – and very social – occasion. We didn’t want to intrude for too long, but had some interesting conversations in the house and outside, besides some of the bloody remains of the whale. From Jenny, a tough lady, to Kayan, a modern young man complete with ear stud, the people I talked to all had tales to tell of climate change.
The sea freezing later in the year than before, thinner ice, changes in the species of wildlife in the region. Everybody is concerned. This is clearly an issue here. But when it comes to awareness of the need to reduce emissions, the price of petrol is clearly a higher incentive than worry about global warming. In this icy, harsh climate, in an area as remote as you can find, heating and fuel are not a luxury. “Alternative energy man? Sure, give me a solar-powered snow-machine and I’ll use it” – Kayan laughs and heads off for some whalemeat.
DateMay 1, 2008 | 6:34 pm
TagsAlaska, Arctic, Barrow, BASC, Climate, Climate Change College, ice, Inupiat, Oil, snow, USA, whales, Youth