Greenpeace demand the High Arctic be legally protected from companies and governments desperate to exploit it
Greenpeace maintains that what happens in the Arctic affects us all. Besides acting as a planetary air-conditioner, the region is a bellwether for the health of our climate and the global ecosystem.
As the ice melts and is replaced by large patches of dark, open water, even more of the sun’s heat is absorbed and the melting increases. The frozen North is stuck in a vicious circle, with scientists talking about the sea ice entering a “death spiral.”
The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Ice is disappearing at unprecedented levels and with it the habitat of species like the polar bear, while the way of life of the four million people who live above the Arctic Circle is changing forever.
But rather than seeing this as a clear warning and spur to positive action, many governments and companies have taken a different, altogether more sinister, view: the retreating ice sheet is an opportunity to grab one of Earth’s last unclaimed areas and to profit from finding the resources that are currently locked away deep beneath the ice.
According to Greenpeace, as a consequence, we are now witnessing the start of a dangerous new Arctic oil rush, as companies such as Shell, Gazprom and Cairn Energy manoeuvre their rigs amidst the ice floes and bergs of unfamiliar-sounding places like the Pechora and Chukchi Seas to drill for new oil.