The debate on whether or not to low drilling in Alaska has been a political
hot potato for decades. Although it is home to one of the largest oil fields in
the country, it is also home to a vast amount of protected wildlife.
Since the energy crisis in the late 70s the debate between political groups and
Alaskan citizens over drilling in Alaska has waged on at a fever pitch. The
recent surge in fuel prices has brought the matter to more and more US citizen’s
attention. We are constantly looking for other places to obtain our fuel and
Alaska is our own back yard! However, the wildlife presents quite a dilemma for
us. Many are opposed to drilling in Alaska for environmental reasons and have
legitimate reason for their concerns.
The main concern amongst natives of Alaska is that drilling on shore will
eventually lead to off shore exploration. The natives of Alaska are concerned
that any off shore drilling will disturb the migration of whales to Alaska.
Bowhead whales are an important part of the native culture, life and diet. The
Canadian government is concerned that any oil development would disrupt the
migratory patterns of Porcupine Caribou herd. This presents a distinct problem
because the United States and Canada signed an agreement in 1987 that outlined
protection and conservation for the herd and their migratory routes.
Additionally there are other animals whose homes and habits would be affected by
drilling. Birds, fish, and polar bears–the list goes on. Scientists believe
that it will disrupt the entire natural chain in that region which could lead to
detestation for the native people and their culture.
Many scientists also believe that the development of industry in this untouched
area of the world will have severely adverse effects on the cultural survival of
the native populations that have survived and flourished in Alaska thus far.
Theses communities rely heavily on the wildlife and the natural surroundings of
Alaska for their survival and subsistence. The indigenous populations of Alaska
fear oil spills will pollute their waterways again and cause irreversible harm
to their beautiful untouched homeland. Additionally, to many of the indigenous
people much of Alaska is considered sacred ground. Which means that we would be
interrupting not only wildlife and culture, but a religious part of their lives
Scientists also worry about the effects that oil technologies would have on the
climate and tundra. It is noted that regardless of the fact that drilling is not
currently taking place in certain areas, the effects of global warming
alone are creating great changes. With no major industry, currently the effects
of industry elsewhere are melting glaciers, raising temperatures and building up
pollution in Alaska already. Many are concerned of the increased effect that
local drilling would have on these already troubling issues.
It is also noted by many environmentalist and scientist that drilling in Alaska
would only further delay our inevitable need to focus on alternative energy
sources. Many people think that instead of disrupting the nature in Alaska, we
should spend more time in the labs developing ways to heat our homes and power
our cars other than oil. The amount of oil in the Alaskan reserves is highly
debated, but still minimal at best and would not lead to a limitless or lengthy
supply, however the effects of our exploration and drilling efforts would be
long term and permanent unlike the fuel source.. Scientists raise the point that
we should invest in research and conversion to alternative fuel method rather
than investing in a temporary solution that bares potential for other