According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there may be more than 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil buried in the Arctic—about 13% of the world's estimated undiscovered reserves. So as climate change—due chiefly to the burning of fossil fuels like oil—melts the Arctic ice, it becomes easier for oil companies to send their drilling ships northward and produce more oil for us to burn, thus warming the climate even further.
The process is already underway. On September 9—four years after it paid $2.8 billion for federal leases—Shell began drilling an exploratory well 70 miles off the northwest coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea. It's the first drilling to be done in the Chukchi in more than two decades, and it comes after years of debate with the Interior Department, which finally gave Shell its permit on August 30. That approval came over the criticisms of environmental groups and some residents of Alaska's North Shore, who worry that a spill in the icy Arctic waters could prove impossible to clean up.
"There's nothing we can do now but I worry about the weather and the animals we depend on for our survival," Steve Oomittuk, the mayor of the Alaskan Arctic village of Port Hope, told CNN. "If Shell finds what it thinks is down there, then many other companies are going to come and then it will only be a matter of time before something happens out there.". . .View Full Article