ByÂ Ignatius Joseph:
Bangalore and Mumbai rode for the Arctic on September 15, 2013 when hundreds of people gathered for a cycle rally in both cities to challenge oil corporations like Shell who are trying to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic region. The rallies, called Ice Rides, were part of a Greenpeace global day of action that took place in 36 countries and 75 cities with 14,000 cyclists coming together on the same day to stop Shell from drilling for oil in the Arctic. In Bangalore, 150 people participated while in Mumbai 60 volunteers rode for the Arctic. The day culminated with activists unfurling a banner against Arctic drilling outside a Shell outlet in Bangalore and at Juhu Beach in Mumbai.
Burning fossil fuels has caused as much as three-quarters of the floating sea ice in the Arctic to melt. As the ice recedes, the oil industry is looking to exploit once inaccessible offshore oil fields. This is a seriously risky proposition as previously classified government documents say dealing with oil spills in the freezing waters is “almost impossible” and inevitable mistakes would shatter the fragile Arctic environment. Arctic drilling can devastate the region, indigenous people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there. Many countries across the world will be affected as well. The ice in the Arctic reflects much of the sun’s heat back into space keeping the whole planet cool, stabilising our weather systems, which also allows us to grow our food.
Shiva Sharma, Public Engagement Campaigner, Greenpeace India says, “What happens in the Arctic concerns all of us. Such irrational oil drilling proposals and practices by big companies like Shell must be put to an end. This year, India gained the observer status in the Arctic Council. This is all the more reason for us to take a keen interest in safeguarding the Arctic and its inhabitants.”
The NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Centre) has been recording satellite images of the Arctic sea ice since 1979 and tracking it each year. Satellite records show that the ice has been rapidly retreating and in September 2012, the NSIDC confirmed that the sea ice had melted to a record low. In the near future, the Arctic could be ice free for the first time ever in 800,000 years.
Increases in CO2 levels and global temperatures caused the sea ice in the Arctic to melt and this shows us the alarming consequence of burning fossil fuels. Recently, the World Meteorological Organisation stated that the decade from 2001-2010 was the warmest since the start of modern temperature measurement in 1850. Considering these factors, going after more oil in the region that cools our planet is highly questionable.
Furthermore, there is only 90 billion barrels or three years’ worth of oil in the Arctic and risking a devastating oil spill in this fragile environment is not sensible. People all over the world are opposing big oil corporations carving up the pristine Arctic for profits and are demanding a new direction in the global energy policy. Almost 40 lakh people have signed a Greenpeace petition against oil drilling in the region.
Greenpeace is demanding that world leaders declare the uninhabited area around the North Pole a global sanctuary and ban offshore oil drilling. In addition, the movement demands a complete ban on any destructive industry in the Arctic region.
For more information and to show your support for the Arctic, visit here