A series of recent stories reveals how disconnected we are as a species from nature and from reality — and how hellbent in a hurry we are to destroy our planet.
A Dec. 19 story from Greenwire describes the Obama administration’s “conditional green light” for Royal Dutch Shell PLC to begin exploring for oil this summer in Alaska’s Arctic waters. If they find what they are looking for – and many believe there’s little doubt — then the real fun begins: the building of a drilling facility, a subsea pipeline and a pipeline that reaches from the shore to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Prudhoe Bay.
Shell has already put $4 billion into the project, so it’s hard to imagine there’s any way to stop it, especially given how slowly our culture is moving toward renewable energy.
Put this in context with the tepid progress at the climate talks in Durban, which was quickly followed by Canada’s pronouncement they were pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, backed up a couple days later by Russia supporting Canada’s escape. Both countries rankle at Kyoto’s inability to hold China and the United States responsible for their carbon emissions.
Ergo the red flag on the green light regarding the US, Shell and the Arctic.
In a story in the London Independent, Russian scientists reported being astonished by the number and size of methane plumes bubbling up from the Arctic seabed. You likely know the following, but I’ll say ‘em out loud: methane is 20X more powerful than CO2; there’s a shit-ton of methane buried in the Arctic seabed, enough to send the planet’s temperatures soaring; we are screwed.
Here’s what the scientist had to say: “Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said. “I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them.”
If this story doesn’t chill you to your bones, I don’t know what will. The Arctic has long been the planet’s canary in the coalmine, a place where the effects of climate change are most obvious.
Want something actionable? I tell you, here at the end of 2011, I’m stumped. Sure: educate yourself, buy local, reduce waste, find alternative energy sources for travel and consumption, even try and change the political/economic system.
But it won’t be enough, not the way things are going.
I’ve got no “bloom” for you today; my heart is heavy. You’ll have to make your own bloom, perhaps in the form of a New Year’s resolution, one that puts nature first — over everything else.