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Photo Credit to © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Photo Credit to © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

My newest resolution is to see Alaska and the remaining glaciers before they melt. I can’t wait another year, it could be too late, and since Exxon was approved last week by our government to mobilize and start drilling this summer, I’ve got to hurry. Nothing like an oil spill to ruin a vacation.

The whale watching expedition might not be the same with dead carcass. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see a polar bear in the wild – but what if it’s black with crude oil when I finally get the chance? And with less ice than ever measured this year, ships are moving in at a rapid pace to take advantage of the incredible resources in the area. With over 55 ship casualties in the Arctic Circle just last year, compared to only 3 a decade ago, there is already too much human traffic, and wreckage, and evidence mounts. The chances grow exponentially with each invasion for a major disaster in the form of oil spills and tragic pollution to land and sea. I’ve got to hurry.

The Arctic cannot handle any more abuse. By it’s own admission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.gov), says that the changes in the Arctic in the last decade are “continuing, major and unprecedented”. So now, we want to add insult to injury?

An oil spill in the Arctic – an expansive ecosystem that stabilizes our global climate – would be an environmental nightmare that couldn’t be undone. Why are we risking it? For more crude oil that we don’t even need? According to the Guardian, “If the world’s nations keep their pledge to combat climate change, the analysis finds the prospects are bleakest for coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels. Globally, 82% of today’s reserves must be left underground.” It’s like they have been drilling forever, so why stop now? Politicians have on blinders, oil giants have their wallets open and the drill rigs are getting ready to ship out. I’ve got to hurry.

Exxon spent $35 million lobbying this argument, visiting Washington 19 times in the current President’s administration, and as recent as last week, our chosen representatives caved to the pressure. In one breathe, the President agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and in the next, approved exploratory drilling in the Arctic waters, saying the reward is worth the risk. Sure, there is substantial economic opportunity in the Arctic, as diamonds, gold and crude oil are being extracted, and I know there are proponents counting the dollars. However, according to a landmark UN analysis, rolling out clean energy infrastructure on a global scale would only shave a tiny fraction off the economic growth currently projected by using fossil fuels. But either way, if we don’t control our climate and preserve what little ice we still have, the economics won’t matter.

I can’t wait to meet some Eskimos in their native land; remote from my comfortable, air-conditioned world, they have inhabited the Arctic for over 9,000 years in treacherous conditions and represent a true picture of living off the land and yet, many of them have left their fishing and hunting businesses to work in the oil fields and it’s supporting villages. I’ve got to hurry.

I’m proud to see that right here in my home town, there are solar farms being planned. Solar power is an exciting alternative! In the past six years, one company (Strata Solar) has built 70 of these solar farms in North Carolina, and I’m a firm believer in solar power as a viable option. It’s renewable (the sun is strong enough even on the cloudy days), it’s non-invasive (glass panels can be easily hidden, don’t make noise or pollution and are easily removed) and it’s not going to harm the world. In fact, it won’t hurt a bit. I applaud the local authorities for approving the projects and hope everyone would get on board to embrace solar power. Write your congressmen, and tell them they’ve got to hurry, too!