Arctic Oil and Gas Rush Alarms Scientists

By Stephen Leahy

[See also more recent story: Arctic Ice Gone in 5 Years – First Time in One Million Years; see also other Arctic and oil stories below. US and Canada to start offshore drilling in the Arctic summer 2010 – your support is needed to investigate and report on this. ]

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 8 2008 (IPS)

As greenhouse gas pollution destroys Arctic ecosystems, countries like Canada are spending millions not to halt the destruction but to exploit it.

Late last August, Canada announced a 93.7-million-dollar prospecting programme to map the energy and mineral resources of the region. There are “countless other precious resources buried under the sea ice and tundra,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during the announcement. The government’s mapping effort is expected to trigger 469 million dollars in private sector resource exploration and development.

“It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas lies under the Arctic,” Harper said.

This scramble to exploit some of the most environmentally delicate regions of Earth has alarmed international experts who are meeting this week in Iceland to make recommendations to the United Nations and world governments on how to protect the polar regions.

“Many experts believe this new rush to the polar regions is not manageable within existing international law,” says A.H. Zakri, director of the United Nations University’s Yokohama-based Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), co-organisers of the conference with Iceland’s University of Akureyri. Continue reading