Opinion

Defrost, Drill, Guzzle

Oil companies have a recipe for the Arctic. Enjoy!

By Rafe Mair, 1 May 2006, TheTyee.ca

polarbears

Attention all! I bring you great tidings! We're all saved. For there it was on the front page of the Guardian Weekly under the headline "Scramble Is on for Arctic Oil" and our homegrown favourite, Petrocan, is in the hunt with the other biggies in the business.

It's interesting how this all got started. It was strictly in the interest of science whereby the US Geological Service teamed up with the British oil giant BP and Statoil, a huge Norwegian oil conglomerate, to do a survey on global warming, especially in the Arctic. Since they believe they might find some oil under the ice, they decided, apparently as an afterthought, that as long as they were there anywhere, they might as well look for a little oil while they were at it. (If you believe that, I have a lovely bridge just waiting for you to buy.) The US Geological Survey estimates that a quarter of the world's petroleum reserves lie under the Arctic Ocean. And there are other players like Russia involved, big time. When I heard about the scientific front for this undertaking, I couldn't help thinking of Japan slaughtering hundred of whales each year for "scientific purposes."

Here is the good news. Oil exploration will become more and more feasible in the Arctic as the ice cap recedes and the companies can do their drilling on dry land. And in fact, the news here is very cheery because it's estimated that the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice in summertime by 2060. Now here's where you come in. Global warming, as we know, is dependent on emissions from cars and others exploiting the universe as a huge garbage dump so conveniently put there for the consequences of our greed. Think of what we could do if we all just added, say, 10 percent to our fossil fuel consumption and waste expulsion! Why I bet we could lower the time for an ice free Arctic back to 2050, or maybe, 2040! All we need to do, really, is concentrate on buying all those SUVs that GM and Ford have overstocked. We could have bumper stickers saying "Save the Arctic from the bears and Inuit - buy a gas guzzler."

North Pole, the theme park

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. The gods must have been working overtime on this generation of Earthlings. As Stephanie Tumore from Greenpeace said "Why are we going looking for more fossil fuels when what's happening in polar regions just proves that it is devastating and we cannot continue to do that?"

Why indeed?

I can see some benefits that Greenpeace and others have overlooked. On the assumption that even in summer there will be some ice at the North Pole, we could put in an airport and fly tourists in to look at the zoo where the last of the polar bears live alongside the last remaining walrus, narwhals and caribou. At this tourist site there would be a real live imitation Inuit village where the inhabitants put on their old sealskin clothes and rush to the airport to rub noses with the visitors. I mean, what a tourism experience for those who have been everywhere!

But as I say, folks, the good old oil companies can't do it all by themselves. So rush out today, get the gassiest of gas guzzlers and help get rid of that stupid ice cap that's getting in the way of the oil barons who so badly want to put more and more fossil fuels in our hands. Let's all keep that neat cycle where gases clobber the environment enabling the oilmen to get oil more easily to clobber the environment and so on. Moreover, with lovable old Petrocan in there carrying the flag for us, surely it's our patriotic duty to pitch in and help.

We can do it, folks, we can do it!

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. His website is www.rafeonline.com.  [Tyee]

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