Thursday, September 8, 2011

Economy vs. ecology – Arctic's oil exploration

The ongoing battle between economy and ecology has been a constant sight since the start of the industrial revolution. No matter how much our modern society boosts itself as being "environmentally aware" ecology is always second best when going up against economy. The most recent example of this is oil exploration in Arctic.

Arctic's ice is melting fast, opening door for not only increased ship traffic but also for massive oil exploration. Oil reserves are running out, and many oil companies are driven towards the Arctic area because it is estimated that the area north of the Arctic Circle contains approximately 160 billion barrels of oil, around quarter of the world's undiscovered oil reserves.

Exxon Mobil, for instance, has already poured $3.2 billion into Arctic oil exploration with many other big companies such as Royal Dutch Shell are also more than willing to enter the Arctic's oil rush driven by potential high profits.

What damage will oil exploration and oil drilling do to Arctic's environment? Arctic's unique and sensitive ecosystems have been until now protected by the vast kingdom of ice but the shelter of ice is slowly breaking up allowing oil companies to enter the vast areas of the world's most untouched ecosystems.

Where there is an oil exploration and oil drilling there is also a big chance for oil spills and each oil spill in Arctic area represents huge environmental disaster with much more serious negative effect than anywhere else around the globe.

It is almost impossible to clean oil spill in Arctic's weather conditions so once oil interacts with the surface sea ice it will become absorbed in it. Once absorbed into ice oil can be transported by it for as much as 1,000 miles across the ocean. The oil that will be eventually released in the spring, only God knows where, is very toxic because the encapsulation in the ice preserves the oil from weathering, making it terrible for environment.

What this basically means is that each oil spill in Arctic area represents a major environmental catastrophe because cleaning success is almost impossible in these conditions. The remoteness of the Arctic, darkness, extreme weather, deep water, freezing conditions and floating icebergs are only some of the factors which make dealings with the possible oil spill in Arctic impossible to make.

Economy is yet again looking to be a likely winner but at a very high price. But hey, do you honestly believe politicians care about this when being offered enough money by industry to look the other way?

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