Friday, June 17, 2016

Scientists Urge Obama to Halt Oil Leasing in the Arctic

This map shows the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing areas, with the Chukchi and Beaufort seas highlighted. (Credit: BOEM) Click to Enlarge.
In a letter being delivered to the White House on Thursday, nearly 400 scientists from more than a dozen countries are urging President Obama to stop future oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean because of the significant environmental and climate risks associated with further fossil fuels exploration there.

“No new oil and gas leasing or exploration should be allowed in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the foreseeable future,” the scientists said.

Climate change is warming the Arctic twice as fast as the rest of the world, melting sea ice to historically low levels and threatening the viability of the region’s vibrant ecosystems.  The scientists contend that environmentally sensitive areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off of Alaska’s North Slope should be off-limits to oil and gas drilling while protecting the long-term health of the Arctic Ocean.

“The Arctic is home to vibrant communities of indigenous peoples, provides vital marine habitats for iconic wildlife such as beluga whales, walruses, and ice seals found nowhere else in the United States, and plays a critical role in global climate systems,” the letter said.  “The region is profoundly affected by climate change — including loss of sea ice, acidification of the ocean, and increased access for industries that pose significant risks to the ocean environment.”
Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institute for Science, said he signed the letter because further fossil fuels development in the Arctic will make climate change worse.

“If we want to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to be transitioning to an energy system that does not rely on the atmosphere as a waste dump for our CO2 pollution,” Caldeira said.  “Instead of encroaching on the last bits of wilderness left on Earth, we should be building a sustainable relationship with the wild and untamed.”

Read more at Scientists Urge Obama to Halt Oil Leasing in the Arctic

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