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Don't Sell Out the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Oil Companies (audubon.org)
171 points by howard941 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments



Everything is connected. The more we lose bird and insect species, the harder it will be on the flowers,grasses, and trees. The harder it is on those, the harder it is on use due to erosion and has CO2 scrubbing by the plants. We lost the last White Rhino last year, 3 bird species, and others. The extinction rate each of the last five years has been 1000 to 10000 times the normal rate.

https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2019-01-02-exti...


As a society, we've chosen to prioritize financial interests above all else; thereby, robbing future generations of the richness and majesty that makes the world a beautiful place.

When propagandists successfully politicized environmental protection, they set us on a path that not only ensured the mass extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals, but also jeopardized the survival of our own species.

No one has a full picture of what the impacts of the impending extinctions and climate events will be, but I believe characterizing them as an existential crisis for the human race is accurate.

Money doesn't do much good when the food and water are poisoned, the air is toxic to breathe, and vast portions of the continents are under water. Unfortunately, we're not well adapted to dealing with slow moving threats such as these, so addressing the situation while there's still time seems dubious at best.


> As a society, we've chosen to prioritize financial interests above all else;

As a government*

While the government is supposed to be for the people, by the people, they often act against the desires and interests of the population.


Dunno where you are, but in the States somewhere between forty-five and fifty-five percent of the voting public will vote for just about anything if it's good "for the economy".

(That is the charitable reading of their voting record, anyway.)


Nah, they'll vote for anything their party tells them to. Most people don't have any sort of guiding principles. Their decisions are mainly based on tribalism, identity, and partisanship.


>> As a society > As a government

These are not different things. The government is made up of people from society. There is no secret cabal running things, just a bunch of people. If you want to treat the government as something other than yourself, then this is the inevitable result.


> Money doesn't do much good when the food and water are poisoned, the air is toxic to breathe, and vast portions of the continents are under water.

Unfortunately, those who stand the most to profit are also those who can mitigate the damage for themselves with costly workarounds such as fresh bottled water imported from the opposite side of the world, high tech air filtration systems and secondary homes in remote places. In other words, they don't care.


As a society?

Since when the common people have much say in any nontrivial large-scale policies?

Name one that the behindscen motivation isn't cooperate profit?


While our democracy is clearly flawed here in the US, we still have say in whom we're putting into office. A broad stroke of the electorate choose to put people in office who are outwardly hostile to environmental protection measures, so yes, as a society we allow these things to happen.


School desegregation.


Is there such a thing as the "normal extinction rate"?


Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we're now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day.


The Northern White Rhino is what you are thinking of an global warming didn’t kill it, poachers did, driven by a Chinese market based on superstition. Rhino horn is used in Traditional Chinese “Medicine” despite being chemically identical to a human fingernail.

Perhaps we should be banning windmills and solar if we are going to care about the birds. https://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe...

https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/windmills-and-...

If Audubon cares about birds, they should promoting the banning of domestic cats. Invasive species propagation is a far bigger driver of extinction than variation in climate. In fact it’s the second largest driver of extinction behind hunting/fishing/harvesting.


Please don't buy the hype. I'm going to guess that almost everyone would agree with preservation of environment and wildlife. But the drilling in northern Alaska is not what one may think. Drilling sites have small surface foot prints and reach out via horizontal drilling. Additionally, oil exploration on the north slope of Alaska has been going on since the 1960's with a remarkably good health, safety, and environmental responsibility record. Look at their record and what they've been doing. It may be a rare case, but Alaska's north slope environment has not been harmed by exploratory drilling sites.


The actual drilling is not the real issue. The drills are indeed a negligible footprint. But every drilling site has a road. Every road has bridges. Then, should oil be pumped, pipelines and other support infrastructure. Surrounding all of this is then the local risk of spills, and the non-local implications of burning yet more oil. So to stop all that nasty stuff later, we need to stop the preliminary drilling today.

Canada is struggling with abandoned oil infrastructure, tar sand developments that companies do not want to clean up. (There was a recent supreme court case about this.) For all the pre-planning and taxation, everyone knows that some day in the future it will be the government saddled with cleanup costs.


I don't know why this is being downvoted. Agree or disagree, it's a reasonable contribution to the conversation. To me, downvotes are for bad-faith arguments, axe-grinding, comments that raise issues answered in TFA, and other things that worsen the quality of conversation.


People downvote things that make them angry. The closer one gets to an uncomfortable truth, the greater the anger.

I honestly think that the majority of downvotes on HN are from people silenced by the posting limit. Lacking the ability to respond in text, their only agency is to downvote. The calm and considerate people who read more and speak less don't hit that limit.


I don't know why you're being downvoted. I used to work in an oil and gas firm earlier. And I agree with everything that you have just said.


You're speaking of ideal scenarios. Explain all the past accidents that have led to massive raping of the wildlife and environment, then subsequent "cleanups" which add additional issues.


It really feels that with proper governance it should be possible to both extract the oil and benefit the environment overall. Reinvesting the profits in environmental improvement projects (both locally, but particularly in other places where small investments can go a long ways) seems like it should be possible to outweigh the damage.

That said, probably infeasible to achieve that type of governance in the US these days, so this Audobon approach of putting its foot down is possibly the most viable.


It is possible, but not when money is on the line. We see this issue everywhere. Nuclear power plants can be made safe, but then checks aren't done when they should, maintenance is allowed, they're kept running being the design life, etc.


Prudhoe Bay oil spill was in 2006. Also exploratory drilling has a huge footprint; they do 4D seismic which means a big grid of tracks. This leaves long lasting scars on sensitive landscapes.


the oil needs to be left in the ground. the fact that we can save some nice animals by doing so is a bonus.

the reality of climate change means that by proxy, greed is an existential threat that we need to be taking an aggressive disposition against.


There's plenty of oil in the world. Why do we feel the need to go after every last drop in the United States?

It'll still be there in 100 years, if we need it.


Why are we still doing for oil anyways?! We are about to kill everyone on the planet with our fossil fuel addiction.


Because we don't care. We want to drive our giant SUVs 2-3 hours a day so we can live in a McMansion in the exurbs, and we don't give a shit about what this is going to do to future generations.

Furthermore, roughly half of Americans don't believe this is even a problem, and don't care about what any scientists tell them, because their religious leaders and favorite politicians tell them otherwise.


Should we all have to be in agreement to finally take meaningful action? If we were in a space station with thin walls and some folks want to set up a shooting range for their own enjoyment we'd stop them by all means. We wouldn't care if those people believe in vacuum outside the space station or not. Might seem far fetched, but we are very much in the same situation.


>If we were in a space station with thin walls and some folks want to set up a shooting range for their own enjoyment we'd stop them by all means.

No, we wouldn't, nor should we. The reason is democracy: if the people in that space station have a democratic government, and more than half of them vote for leaders who promise them they can keep their shooting range, no matter how dangerous, well then everyone else just has to live with it.

Hopefully, it's obvious here that democracy only really works when the citizens are smart enough to use it well. The problem is that, in many cases, they just aren't, which is what we're seeing now.


> we'd stop them by all means

Fully agree. This is not an issue where we just have to hope that one day someone in charge will fix it.


Perhaps we need economic pressure to encourage consumers to stop buying products from climate change deniers and their states.


Huh just curious, do you perchance ride in cars? Or trains? or planes?

Do you use electricity?

Do you own anything plastic?

What about metal?

I think you'll find if you ask yourself these questions you will find that the answer to your rhetorical question was within you all along!


It's obviously a collective action problem and thus needs a collective solution. If I stop riding my car today, nothing changes. Would I be in favor of banning everyone, including myself from using any combustion engines by January 2020? Absolutely! Would it hurt? You bet! But it would be a incredibly reasonable trade off and we'd find new ways to cope. In fact anyone who lobbies for continued burning of fossil fuels should be charged with genocide.


I know! It's ridiculous. I can't believe people still don't understand how many people will die in agony in {{ world.timeleft }}. The only solution is to wave our arms harder and faster above our heads to try and start a conversation and get others to think about who we are as a people.


That's the definition of insanity!

Mr Einstein would be so disappointed.

In other news, Americans stopped buying sedans because they want bigger vehicles.

https://www.cbtnews.com/people-arent-buying-sedans-anymore/


The United States is one of the few places with large reserves that pay oilfield workers livable wages and have decent regulations for worker safety. If it's a choice between enriching ARAMCO who pays peasant wages vs an independent US operator who can pay a middle class salary to someone without a degree, I would rather see the latter


Environmentally speaking, doesn't it make more sense to get oil from close-by instead of importing it from far way?


No, transportation costs are not a function of linear distance. It's cheaper to use a developed site than to build new pipelines.


The post said "environmentally speaking", not economically.


The east coast of Canada gets their oil from the Middle East. Politics prevents building a pipe across Canada.


oil is money in the ground, so leaving it there is like leaving cash under your bed.

it's even worth it to burn some off just to make sure you get any at all[0]

[0]https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/05/1405...


We're going after that oil too. Venezuela is coming up next. The thirst for oil, and America's willingness to take it by force all over the globe, is limitless


This is false and shows a lack on education to say it .. It is well-documented that the pattern of 'taking oil by force' was so obvious and conflict-enhancing, that the American foreign policy, military policy, and dollar-based oil trading market participants, went to great lengths to create ways to use soft-power in international oil deals.

The poster child of this approach is the Saudi Arabia oil trading partnership of decades, where the increasingly wealthy Saudi state oil company have a control and share of profits that increases over time. Read a few wikipedia articles or this :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prize:_The_Epic_Quest_for_...

It is true however, that Venezuala appears to be headed to breaking this pattern. It is related to the Hugo Chaves / Cuba / SAmerican Marxism fights and there are a lot of hard liners on both sides.


> on both sides

That sounds familiar? Oh, wait: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-defends-organi...


> In a statement, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino faulted Venezuela for the latest incident.

>“The Venezuelan Navy aggressively stopped ExxonMob‎il contracted vessels operating under an oil exploration agreement with the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” he said, saying Guyana had the right to explore there and urging Venezuela to respect international law and its neighbors’ rights.[0]

[0]https://www.reuters.com/article/us-guyana-venezuela-oil/vene...

Two months later Donald Trump is trying to oust Maduro for being 'undemocratically elected' while simultaneously praising communist Dictators in South East/East Asia.

Yeah, has nothing to do with American oil interests.


I went to Alaska last January. It's like no place else I've ever been. The folks there both really care about the environment and really care about the oil industry. It is a question of much debate there. It's an interesting case study.

The state had a huge economic boom about 30 years ago as a result of the Alyeska pipeline. Lots of people (in relative terms, Alaska is not and will never be densely populated) moved there to take advantage. Basically everyone else is there because it has been their home for generations, or because they moved there for the nature aspect.

Economic booms don't last forever. Now you have people who moved there for money (which is gone) consistently at odds with people who are there for other reasons. The former want to bring back the boom times, and will pretty much vote for anyone who says they can do that. The latter just want to move on with their lives and protect what has not already been damaged.




I've always found it amusing that the Scandinavian countries lauded for being socialist utopias with the highest quality of life do so by drilling like Arabian princes, yet you only hear complaining about exploitation in the red state of alaska which only produces 5% of the nation's crude and has a generally so-so quality of life.


I work for oil & gas in the Canadian oil sands. If you want to us to stop drilling and mining, you should stop demanding that we do it. It’s no different than ivory from Africa or drugs from South America. In Canada we pay $1.20 per litre of gasoline ($4.50 per gallon) - love to see the US try that.


Yes, the demand for oil is a huge problem, and we should all do our best to stop driving and flying all the time.

That said, I'd encourage you, if it's something that's economically possible for you, to consider finding work elsewhere. Sticking to your analogy, the poacher who shoots the elephants is not entirely innocent either.

I used to work for a sketchy company, so I also recognise that this is not an easy decision to make. I used to think If I don't do it, somebody else will.


No, I'm not going to be demonized for producing something the entire world needs. How many on HN and Silicon Valley can say the same?


ANWR, A place few people have ever set foot, let alone seen, including environmentalist from a distance. Meanwhile the state has an unemployment rate of about 7%, and a lot of people depend on the revenue from the sale of oil to live. I say drill. Alaska isn’t the place you’re going to see Amazon build a warehouse, at least let them have something.


If Alaska isn't a good place to live for humans but great for other inhabitants, the humans should move. If my choice is between a polar bear or a town in Alaska, I'll pick the polar bear anytime and move the town. We don't need to turn every corner of the planet into a place serving our immediate human needs. In fact we've already done that to too many places and are ruining the planet for everyone while doing so.

On top of that we shouldn't be drilling for oil anywhere. We likely have already turned the planet into a uninhabitable wasteland by burning too many fossil fuels. We need to have a hard cut on our fossil fuel dependence and not sorry it further.


> If Alaska isn't a good place to live for humans but great for other inhabitants, the humans should move.

The indigenous populations in the Arctic are often very poor. Who is going to pay for them to move to Ft. Lauderdale, or even as far as Juneau? House them, find them jobs, etc?

"Just move" is a non-solution also offered up for pretty much every factory closing in the rust belt, coal miners in WV, etc. It vastly overestimates the mobility of many families, especially those near or in poverty.

That said, Prudhoe Bay has double the national unemployment rate, so I don't buy the argument that drilling is a magical answer to unemployment. (And we should stop burning stuff for energy)


The reality is that the oil companies usually hire non-natives. They'll make big promises to the communities though before a project so that no one makes waves. Haven't yet heard of a case where they delivered the jobs to the native communities that were promised.


Agreed! That's a huge, but somewhat separate problem. I'm more than happy to pay for UBI of it leads to happier people and a healthier planet in this case. I don't think there is a way around it if automation continues to improve.


Paying for people to move is a lot cheaper than climate change.


The choice isn’t between drilling oil in Alaska and everyone transitioning to alternative energy. It’s between drilling oil in Alaska and buying it from regimes that murder dissidents and sometimes deny basic rights to women.


You make the implicit assumption that there is no option of using less oil. And while that might be true this week, there is no reason why we can not use much less oil in a year or a decade.


You can, and indeed should, do both. In fact, simultaneously reducing demand and increasing supply is what will hurt these regimes the most.


Why not use less oil?


So what’s your plan to reduce oil consumption to the point of applying broad economic sanctions against every autocratic oil regime including Russia and Saudi Arabia, and how soon can you implement that? I guarantee you can implement it a lot faster if you replace that oil production from those regimes with added oil production from democratic oil-producing countries like the US and Canada.


Why limit ourselves to economic sanctions? The future of the entire planet is at stake. This is the equivalent of an all out military attack by a foreign power.


Given that we're barreling towards environmental collapse, lowering Alaska's unemployment rate by a fraction of a percent or encouraging more lower 48 people to move there might not be our highest priority. High arctic industrial operations also contribute to albedo changes from soot settling on the ice. Intact ecosystems have value now and for generations to come. To destroy them because they're not overrun with tourists is incredibly anthropocentric.


They have freedom of movement. Unlike quite a lot of people on earth.


Yeah you're right, the only value of vast swaths of untouched nature is to be looked at.


All these people moved to Alaska because of oil and now they're addicted to it. Sad really. Hopefully an income tax will cause some sort of exodus. A smaller population can be sustained on tourism and fishing.




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