>”Currently, about 10 percent of the world’s oil and one-quarter of its natural gas production come from the Arctic region, which has warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius since the mid-1960s. Countries that border the Arctic Ocean are staking claims to expand their rights beyond the traditional 200-mile exclusive economic zone in anticipation of future oil and gas prospects. According to current estimates, the United States has the largest Arctic oil resources, both on and offshore. Russia comes in second for oil, but it has the most natural gas. Norway and Greenland are virtually tied for third largest combined oil and gas resources. Canada comes in fifth, with almost equal parts oil and natural gas.
In developing these resources, Russia is leading the pack. Production has started at almost all of the 43 large oil and natural gas fields that have been discovered in the Russian Arctic, both on land and offshore. Russia drew its first oil from an offshore rig in Arctic waters in December 2013. […]
[…] operating in the Arctic brings great risks. The shrinking Arctic sea iceallows waves to become more powerful. The remaining ice can be more easily broken up into ice floes that can collide with vessels or drilling platforms. Large icebergs can scour the ocean floor, bursting pipes or other buried infrastructure. Much of the onshore infrastructure is built on permafrost—frozen ground—that can shift as the ground thaws from regional warming, threatening pipe ruptures. Already, official Russian sources estimate that there have been more than 20,000 oil spills annually from pipelines across Russia in recent years. Arctic operations are far away from major emergency response support. The freezing conditions make it unsafe for crews to be outside for extended periods of time. Even communication systems are less reliable at the far end of the Earth. Why take such risks to pursue these dirty fuels when alternatives to oil and gas are there for the taking?
Rather than searching for new ways to get oil, we can look for better ways to move people and goods. Bus rapid transit, light rail and high-speed rail can move more people for less energy than a car can. And for the cars that remain on the road, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—powered by a clean energy grid—are much more efficient than those with a traditional internal combustion engine. Encouraging bicycle use through bike lanes andbike-sharing programs gets people active and out of cars.
Natural gas, which is mainly used to produce electricity, can be replaced with power generated by wind, solar, and geothermal projects. Many countries are demonstrating what is possible with renewables. Denmark already gets one-third of its electricity from wind. Australia is now dotted with 1 million rooftop solar systems. Iceland generates enough geothermal power to meet close to 30 percent of its electricity needs. These are just a few examples of looking past the old familiar solution to a better cleaner one. The risky search under every rock and iceberg for oil and gas deposits is a costly distraction from investing in a clean energy future.”<