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(en) France, Alternative Libertair #222 - Melting Arctic: Black gold, white gold disaster (fr) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 22 Dec 2012 13:55:49 +0200


The Arctic sea ice, bears a hand, the other oil giants: cohabitation impossible. Benefit for some, peril for others. Mouthing a topic that will become one of the greatest environmental challenges of the coming years. ---- The Arctic: two million square kilometers of land preserved irremovable, a pack of 3.5 million km2 surrounding the North Pole to the edge of the Arctic Circle, possession of six countries (Canada, United States, Denmark, Russia Norway, Iceland), with a population of 4 million indigenous Inuit lifestyles directly dependent on their environment. So much for the purely geographical context. But the Arctic, whose name comes from the Greek root meaning Arktos "bear" is also one of the last wildernesses of such importance, a constantly evolving ecosystem, home to exceptional biodiversity and the air conditioner's largest planet.

If these features do not save specific consequences of climatic whose impacts are felt in this region more than anywhere else. In recent decades, the decline in sea ice, melting like snow in the sun, has exceeded all projections scientists.

Climate changes

Experts often the alarm easy, and catastrophic forecasts. But now the question is no longer whether the ice will disappear completely one day during the summer, but when it will happen. Professor of Glaciology at the University of Cambridge, Peter Wadams believes that within five years, "most of the surface summer ice could disappear, and only a cooler pocket of resistance remain north of Ellesmere Island. In 20 years, this pocket disappear in turn, and the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free in summer. " The findings are revealing: 45% of the ice disappeared the last thirty years [ 1 ], the rate of melting of some glaciers like the Kangerdlugssuaq can triple from one year to another, and the record minimum ice level has already been defeated in 2012. This acceleration is astonishing and complex phenomenon to explain changes in ocean currents could play a key role. "The influx of warm currents in the fjords of Greenland is one of the factors behind these changes," says Dr. Fiamma Straneo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Accelerated melting is not without consequences on the environment. A major part of land-based glaciers, their disappearance leads to both an increase in sea levels, and decreased ability of the Arctic to act as a moderating system air temperatures over the globe. Or how to accelerate the vicious circle for climate change. In addition, a vast wildlife is in danger of extinction and habitat friendly bear arctic foxes, caribou, arctic hare, snowy owls, etc.., Cause premature death of all these species.

Accelerated melting of ice

It is clear that nothing will reverse the trend in recent years. And that is the tragedy: no one seems to take into account the fragility of the environment and the exponential acceleration of the melting of the ice cap. In 1991, the UN had granted the status of Antarctic nature reserve World prohibiting industrial activity on their lands (Treaty of Madrid), the great nations seem to have adopted a different posture vis-à-vis Arctic. Today they compete to exploit groundwater oil wealth buried this suddenly become accessible through the back of the pack. More than 40 companies have begun geological research and are ready to fight to the last drop of black gold territory. While the oil resources of the Arctic are estimated at three years of world consumption, the oil giants are now ready to invest in projects more expensive, in the most remote areas of our planet, to draw in ever deeper pockets, thus increasing the risk of accidents.

Beginnings of a catastrophe

Yet the recent past should be scalded consciences. On 20 April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon, leased by British Petroleum (BP) in the Gulf of Mexico explodes. The flight takes five months to be sealed, 780 million liters of oil dispersed in the Atlantic Ocean fouling thousands of kilometers of coastline and affecting 400 animal species. March 25, 2012, Total announced a leak in its gas platform Elgin. Two hundred thousand cubic meters of gas escaping every day for two months, this is the biggest environmental disaster ever occurred in the North Sea. In both cases, the drilling of the standards were used for many years by the oil, far from the geological and geographical complexities of drilling in the Arctic. And if the ecological consequences of these accidents are disastrous, and it will take several decades to get rid of the traces, the impact of an oil spill in the Arctic Circle would be more dramatic than elsewhere: the cold waters favoring adhesive abilities and harmful hydrocarbons, the pollution incrusterait permanently in the ice, without any human intervention is able to reduce the pollution. This is when an entire ecosystem and food chain which would be irreversibly degraded. Shell and Gazprom, ahead of their competitors have begun their first drilling campaign offshore Chukchi and Beaufort early September. Three weeks later, the company announced that it was quitting the Shell work. The dome to retain leaks (installation became mandatory since the Deepwater disaster) was already damaged. In the aftermath, Gazprom followed the movement and retreated for unknown reasons. No drilling in the Arctic in 2012, go to the fall of 2013. But how should we consider the first drop? With $ 4.5 billion already invested by Shell in this project, we can not believe that the Dutch giant is cooled by the passive resistance of the Arctic. Where there is oil, there is no reason, and this first failure appears to be only the beginning of a disaster.

Anthony Concil (environmental activist)

[ 1 ] 3.41 million km2 in September 22 or 45% less than the same date in 1979, when the first recordings.
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