The estimated oil resources in the Arctic will satisfy world consumption for 3 years at current rate, reconstitution after the Exxon Valdez catastrophe is an unfinished business since more than twenty years.
Any drilling well puts the Arctic at risk. In case of an oil spill there is not enough day light during winter, not enough ice-capable vessels for clean-up operations and not enough hotel rooms for volunteers and emergency workers.
The support infrastructure lacks harbors and airports, the Coast Guard helicopters and ice-breaker and contractors high latitude experience. Harsh weather and low temperature are demanding for people and equipment, the latter is neither tested nor are sufficient hangars available.
While the amount of non-renewable energy disasters is growing, the industry fails to demonstrate that the best technology to prevent an oil spill is in place. Known gaps in Arctic oil spill knowledge are still to be filled and response competency to be acquired.
According to the USGS is science not ready to support off-shore drilling. The understanding of marine ecosystem structures is limited or outdated. A full inventory of species, populations and habitats is nonexistent.
The true Arctic resource is the traditional knowledge of the indigenous peoples who lived in the Arctic Ocean region for millennia. They depend on local plants and animals for food, clothing, and shelter, and know a great deal about the species they use and see.
Possible oil spill consequences are and will remain uncharted without incorporating local and traditional knowledge and ensuring scientific integrity within regulating agencies. Doing otherwise will leave a valuable and functioning ecosystem in the hands of short term money makers moving on when the resource is depleted.
Fortunately more and more people stand up, raise their hands, demonstrate for clean energy and say no to off shore drilling. Yesterday was world wide hands across the sand day and even a group from Anchorage joined the movement reaching from Canada over Bangladesh to New Zealand.
We must prevent oil spills in the Arctic at any cost or black becomes the new Arctic white.