The Arctic: The New Promised Land

As global warming begins to take a firmer hold on the planet and the energy crisis escalates, the Arctic now appears to have become a land of opportunity as well as a territory in peril. According to coverage by The Guardian  this weekend (21st July 2012), the oil and petrol giant Shell, has invested over four billion dollars to create exploratory oil wells in the Chuckchi Sea, situated between Alaska and Siberia, in order to investigate the significant oil reserves that apparently lie under the seabed of its frozen waters.  The company is now waiting on the decision of the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental enforcement, before the drilling begins.  Several other oil companies are also expected to follow suit as the Norwegian company Statoil, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Russia’s Rosneft have shown an interest exploiting the fossil fuel resources of the Arctic.

Shell’s plans have been met by fierce reactions by many environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, who, in protest, have parodied Shell’s adverts in in a campaign called Arctic Ready! . The adverts show images of environmental crisis, polar bears and other wildlife struggling to survive, melting ice caps and an Arctic landscape marred by industrial machinery.  One of the concerns of such environmental organisations is that in the event of an oil spillage, there is not a sufficient social infrastructure in these regions to remedy or limit potentially catastrophic environmental damage.  Additionally, drilling in the Arctic regions raises concerns regarding a continued unwillingness to tackle our dependence on fossil fuels and direct more funds in into renewable energy resources.

However, the Arctic has not only become a new focus for the oil industry but is also beginning to catch the attention of the tourism and fishing industries. As the ice continues to melt at an ever increasing rate, tourists are now able to visit the area more easily, allowing them to visit the route of the Arctic explorer John Franklin, for example. Furthermore, fish stocks that previously remained concealed by layers of ice now promise to be a gold mine to local fishermen.

For these reasons, the Arctic seems to encapsulate one of the principal debates of our current generation, as it reveals how a territory under threat from global climate change, promises a wealth of opportunity to the world’s industry and economy. The problem is that exploitation of the Arctic will only contribute further to its destruction. Therefore the global community is caught between a need to satisfy the high demands of modern society and the need to protect, arguably, the most endangered territory on the planet.

News and information sources: The Guardian online, The New York Times online, Arctic Ready!

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If you need translation or interpreting services in and around Oxford and worldwide, TJC offers a wide range of services in more than 100 languages and dialects, covering a variety of areas relating to  environment , the oil and gas industry and  engineering. For more information, visit our website or contact us directly by email. TJC also has a network of translators and interpreters specialising in industry- related work.

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