Plentiful supplies pose
a thorny issue for
climate change debate
The Alaskan village of Kivalina which is rapidly sinking beneath the rising waters of the ocean. Click image to enlarge.
TWO RECENT STORIES from opposite sides of the Arctic circle demonstrate that climate change is not only happening right now with devastating effects, but that we – human beings – are making it worse, not better.
Last week, a BBC report from Alaska (virtually never mentioned in the U.S. media) had this alarming headline: The Alaskan village set to disappear under water in a decade
Correspondent Stephen Sackur reported:
“Four hundred indigenous Inuit people currently live in Kivalina’s collection of single-story cabins. Their livelihoods depend on hunting and fishing.”
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KIVALINA IS AT THE TIP of an 8-mile barrier reef located between the Chukchi Sea and Kivalina River. It lies 80 miles northwest of Kotzebue.
“… [B]ut in the last two decades the dramatic retreat of the Arctic ice has left them desperately vulnerable to coastal erosion …”
“Retreating ice, slowly rising sea levels and increased coastal erosion have left three Inuit settlements facing imminent destruction, and at least eight more at serious risk.”
Can any sane person deny, in the face of such evidence, that climate change is happening right here right now?
Well, a federal appeals court did just deny the residents of the disappearing town the right to seek compensation from giant oil companies for the total annihilation of their village.
The giant new gas rig by Norway’s Statoil is lowered into the sea. Click image to enlarge.
Last September a federal appeals court ruled against the northwest Alaska village, which sued energy companies over claims that greenhouse emissions contributed to global warming that is threatening the community’s existence.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court ruling that Kivalina didn’t have standing to sue oil, coal and power companies.
But it is not just the oil companies – apparently supported by American courts – that are at fault.
So are we all in our insatiable appetites for fossil fuels.
On Tuesday, without any irony, the BBC reported from the other side of the Arctic circle a major new development to extract more natural gas from beneath the ocean.
In Giant gas platform sinks below waves Correspondent Roger Harrabin reports:
“A structure the size of a soccer pitch has been sent plunging to the bottom of the ocean 125 miles off Norway.
It will house a giant compressor claimed to be the world’s biggest offshore machine.”
The rig designed by Norway’s state oil giant Statoil is said to be able to pump some $30bn worth of gas from a depleted gas field.
The massive new rig designed by Statoil of Norway under construction. Click image to enlarge.
SO, WE ARE DEVELOPING new technology to exploit the once thought empty gas field – and who knows where and how we will find a means to do the same.
Harrabin balances out his story with quotes from the other side.
“But environmentalists say as a state-owned enterprise, Statoil should concentrate on saving carbon emissions rather than seeking more hydrocarbons,” he reports.
Truls Gulowsen from Greenpeace, Norway, told BBC News:
“Norway has been a leader in clean technology. The (Norwegian) government should insist that it turns its technology investments to renewable energy systems and doesn’t keep pressing ahead with a strategy that will destroy the climate.”
It is an extremely difficult balancing act. But the stakes are enormously high.
More fossil fuels are becoming exploitable as technology advances. In the (K)now reported July 17 that the U.S. is on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer within eight years in Oil output boom may threaten move to renewable energy.
So we can produce ever-increasing quantities of a substance that might ultimately kill millions of human beings, if not all of us.
Its not a task for the faint-hearted. But at least we need to get the reporting on it straight. The climate change deniers have zero credibility and their statements should be ignored.
Journalists who “balance” their stories (sometimes required by their editors) on climate change with comments from climate deniers, should desist at once. Juxtaposing the truth with a lie is no balance at all. There is no moral equivalence.
And that is a topic for an entirely different discussion, coming soon to In the (K)now.
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