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Do We Know Enough to Ensure Safe Arctic Drilling?

Opinion
Do We Know Enough to Ensure Safe Arctic Drilling?

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  • Henry Huntington

    Henry Huntington

    Senior Officer, International Arctic

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Author(s)

Henry Huntington

Author(s) Description

Huntington is the science director for Pew's Arctic Program.

For the oil and gas industry, the Arctic Ocean is the final frontier. Beneath the ocean floor lies an estimated 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil - about 13 per cent of the global total. As the sea ice retreats and traditional sources of hydrocarbons dwindle, the pressure to drill is becoming irresistible.

It now seems inevitable that this harsh environment will be opened up to oil and gas production, which poses a big question: how much scientific research is "enough" to ensure safe drilling in the Arctic Ocean?

It is true that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on marine science in US Arctic waters. But that doesn't mean the right questions have been asked, or that we have the results necessary to inform responsible management.

Unfortunately it turns out that we simply don't know enough about Arctic Ocean ecosystems to ensure our actions won't inadvertently stress species to the point of affecting animal populations and the indigenous peoples who depend on them.

...

Read the full piece on the New Scientist website. 
 

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