Literature Review: Most recently, the ‘Keystone Pipeline’ bill was vetoed by President Obama, which means no oil drilling in the Arctic for the U.S., as of now. Though Republicans tend to be pro-drilling in the Arctic, the majority of the United States does not support drilling exploration on or offshore the Arctic, specifically due to environmental and animal destruction that would occur if drilling in the Arctic ensued. Now, pro-drillers are doing more research and rallying for their cause. But for the Arctic, for now, it is secure in being a wildlife preserve and natural habitat. Many different environmental schools are studying the issue of drilling in the Arctic. Also, Natural Resources, Plant and Animal Wildlife Preserve, and other environmental companies are studying what effects drilling would have on the Arctic. Studies show that climate change due to drilling in the Arctic would effect the animals; one specific study by Kathy A Burek, Frances M. D. Gulland, and Todd M. O’Hara shows that the change would effect the marine mammals in the Arctic. Economic studies show, such as the study done by Matthew J. Kotchen and Nicholas E. Burger for Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, that we would break even in Arctic drilling, making no economic benefit possible for Americans. In a social study by Tara L. Teel, Alan D. Bright, Michael J. Manfredo, and Jeffery J. Brooks for Natural Resources, biased and inflated studies were given to a group of Americans twice, one pro-drilling article, another anti-drilling. The study found that even though both were biased, over 80% of participants reacted negatively to pro-drilling ideas, both times (Teel, Bright, Manfredo, Brooks). It was noted that prior bias towards one attitude or the other tended to allow the reader to continue their belief as they read their articles, securing their thoughts of their previous bias (Teel, Bright, Manfredo, Brooks).
Drilling will negatively impact the wildlife and land of the Arctic, and the benefits do not out weigh the costs of drilling in the Arctic, environmentally or economically. Research done about drilling in the Arctic comes mostly from environmental and economical research. Within the past decade research on people’s opinions on drilling has also come about revealing a general dissatisfaction on drilling in the Arctic. The question of ‘would drilling negatively effect wildlife within the Arctic,’ is most concerning to Environmentalists, however it is also important in economic terms to see if the benefits would outweigh the negatives and destruction. It has been concluded that the economic benefit would not be great enough to impact the entire American society, as the processing and distribution of the oil would breakeven with the overall value of the oil that had been dug up. As Kotchen and Burger found in their study, oil under the U.S. Arctic is worth $374 billion. It would cost $123 billion to extract and solicit. The difference being $251 billion would only benefit the inter-industry society through industry rents by $90 billion, on top of federal and state tax revenue of $37 and $124 billion. This is without thinking about the economic costs that it would take to drill. With all of the regulation costs, land, and ANWR costs, it would be a break-even scenario if oil was drilled out of the Arctic, as of the last study in 2005. Also within this study, it points out the two “benefits” of drilling within the Arctic: decrease in cost of oil, and reliance on foreign imports. However, this study proved through analysis of costs and worth that these benefits would be inconsequential. If we wanted to significantly decrease the cost of oil, we would have to drill within the Wildlife Refuge within the Arctic, being even more invasive into the ecosystem and wildlife, contributing to even more deaths and change. Though they point out there would be job creation, it would be insignificant to the overall status of Americans and Alaskans, making this also a mute point.
Environmentalists also have studied and concluded that there would be significant damage to both onshore and sea mammals, and to the ecosystem via pollution and destruction of natural habitats. Things like vehicles traveling across terrain, seismic analysis, and infrastructures built for the oil extraction would all be harmful to the Arctic wildlife and ecosystem. It is proven that seismic testing would emit a noise that sea mammals (whales) would react to, as well as bears and other animals. This could change migration patterns as well as child birthing, and ultimately stress the entire ecosystem. ANWR research has shown through the US Fish and Wildlife Service that drilling would significantly impact caribou, musk oxen, wolves, wolverines, seabirds, shorebirds, coastal fish, snow geese, and polar bears (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001/Kotchen & Burger). This would be done by displacement of habitat due to infrastructures. Though there are some areas where animals live that would be untouched by oil extraction, the widespread issue of a potential oil-spill could threaten even the animals far away from the extraction zones, making no where a safe haven. Another environmental issue within Arctic drilling is the change of climate and the effect of this on animal population, as well as the entire global human and animal population. Burek, Gulland, and O’Hara assert that there are many direct effects of climate change on the Arctic animals. It would change the sea ice habitat, elevations of water and air temperature, increased bad weather, and the immune system of animals. Indirectly, drilling could harm animals by: altering pathogen transmission due to factors like effects on body condition due to shifts in food web, change in toxicant exposures, pollution due to runoff, and chemical waste pollution (Burek, Gulland, O’Hara). The specific study they did was on the effect of drilling on sea mammals. They prove that due to climate change the sea mammals may be directly or indirectly harmed. They also shape the argument that through pathogens, a large herd could become distinct through only one animal being infected. This shows that, potentially, one mammal could be infected via a chemical, which produced a disease. Then, this animal could give it to the rest of his/her herd as they live together and travel. This could cause a huge epidemic within animal species, as the density of the animals is so large that they would easily pass diseases around. Toxicant exposures are also a key factor into the negative impacts of drilling on animals. If water temperatures increased enough through the climate change due to drilling, deathly algae could bloom within the Arctic waters and cause marine mammal deaths, and a lot of them. Along with this effect, other effects range from changes in feeding, contamination, and physical risks such as boats colliding with whales. This study supports that infectious diseases would be more prone to effect the population of animals due to the effects – indirect and direct – that oil would have on the wildlife. Through the effects of the oil extraction, it could cause harm to the animals directly and through pollution (Burek, Gulland, O’Hara). This study also points out the fact that local indigenous peoples rely directly on the marine mammals for their livelihoods, and how important the animals are, in general, to their lives. These mammals getting diseases could possibly be transmitted into the human population, making the argument not to drill go from low to high-level importance as it potentially could cause human fatalities.
Socially, it is interesting for sociologists to see why and how people react to the pro/anti-drilling argument. In the research I have viewed, it is based on the question of if America should drill in the Arctic. While the social study by Teel, Bright, Manfredo, and Brooks proved overall emotions on the subject, the environmental and economic studies show, quantitatively, that drilling in the Arctic would not be beneficial, and would harm the animals and ecosystem within the Arctic. The research also proved that new information would not alter the mindsets of individuals, therefore the articles only strengthened previously believed ideals (Teel, Bright, Manfredo, Brooks). It is unconfirmed what exactly would happen to the animals, in a greater sense, but research has shown that there would be some negative impacts (deforestation, long-term harm to animal populations, chemical contamination of land and water, etc.). The ‘Pro-drillers,’ even note these impacts, as seen in research by UC Berkley’s study by O’Rourke and Connolly. I believe these impacts are not worth it, as economically, America would not be any better off. The main study by Teel, Bright, Manfredo, and Brooks proved that the feelings of anti-drilling cannot be affected by new data, which to me, shows an inherent want of humans to do the right thing, morally and environmentally for themselves and the animals.
After reading all of these studies, plus supplementary articles and websites, I have further realized that drilling in the Arctic would cause too much damage to wildlife and the ecosystem to make it worthwhile. The economic benefits are non-existent to anyone other than company holders and owners, and are not a valid point of argument for “pro-drilling.” The economic information actually adds to and strengthens my sentiments on no drilling. It aids in my knowledge of oil drilling in the Arctic being too costly for America by showing that on top of detrimental harm to wildlife and the land, it would do nothing for Americans. I see, however, that there might be a solution that could make both environmentalists and pro-drillers happy. This would take much more study and new science, but the idea of decreasing pollution and space-needed for drilling would be a way to continue the fight for drilling within the Arctic. If oil companies could figure out a way to extract oil using a significantly smaller plot of land and figuring out a way to decrease pollution from their machinery, I feel that more people would be apt to listen to the argument of why to drill. However, I do not believe it is worth the effort until a non-breakeven value would be available for America. If we were able to make a significant amount of money for the economy through drilling in the Arctic, I would be further inclined to listen to the ways we could potentially drill. However, it would take ten years to gather the data and set up the oil-rigs in order to extract any oil, making this a long procedure. I do not believe that there will ever be a way for oil companies to extract this oil without causing too much harm to the wildlife and ecosystem that is so very fragile within the Arctic territory. I believe that the anti-drillers should continue their protests socially and politically, and continue to gather scientific evidence of the costs of wanting to drill within the Arctic. If we are able to continue this awareness, like the social study proved above, I feel that the oil drilling will continue to be illegal as everyone will be able to see the extreme negatives that far outweigh any positives that would come from Arctic drilling.
The sentiment of 'no drilling' was proven by my own personal social study, much like the social bias study I have cited above. My findings further confirmed the studies results. I chose twenty random university students and asked them what their personal stance on drilling within the Arctic was. 10% of my participants were "pro-drilling," the other 90% were "anti-drilling." For each answer, I had a specific follow up question attached. For the "anti-drillers" I asked: "Have you heard about the scientifically proven negative environmental effects that would come from Arctic drilling?" 100% of the participants said "yes," they were aware. Both participants continued to say that they thought the information was "overly embellished and it really wouldn't cause that much environmental harm." For the "anti-drillers," my follow up question was: "Simply, why are you against drilling?" 77.8% of participants agreed that there were too many environmental risks and negative impacts that would be associated to the extraction and exploration of oil within the Arctic. 11.1% stated they did not know much about drilling, but agreed that if the environment and animals would be harmed in the oil process then they would be against it. 5.6% of the participants were against drilling due to only corporate gains. The fact that over 80% of my participants were against drilling further proves the "Social Bias" study. It also shows the sentiment of "if it hurts the environment, I am against it." Which is touched upon within the "Social Bias" study, too.
An alternative to this highly dangerous, pollution-causing energy source, would be renewable energies. Many other countries have already begun their deep research into renewable energy sources, and have began to implement new energy sources for the citizens. Through reading a study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Stanley Bull, I saw a potential answer to our need of fuel - renewable energy. Bull saw that the use of alternative energy is increasing, and so is the research. He foresees the use of alternative energy becoming a more and more common societal tool. Around 10% of America's overall power use comes from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc. Renewable energies will never become extinct, unlike fossil fuels. They generate no pollution or waste, which would help our planet's climate and global warming, as we would decrease the pollution we put out into the environment, and decrease greenhouse emissions that are emitted through oil extraction. This would have a benefit for everyone within the globe. We also would not have to rely on foreign countries for energy sources, which is one of the key arguments pro-drillers have for Arctic drilling. Renewable energy would solve this problem. With Renewable energy sources, America could potentially save the atmosphere from 70 million metric tons of carbon emission each year (Bull).
Works Cited: Bull, Stanley. "Renewable Energy Today and Tomorrow." Proceedings of the IEEE, August 2001. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1 Jan. 2001. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug02/barnes/grandcoulee/bull.html>.
Burek, Kathy, Frances Gulland, and Todd O'Hara. "Effects of Climate Change On Arctic Marine Wildlife." Marine Mammal Center. Ecological Society of America, 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/assets/pdfs/vetsci-stranding/scientific-contributions/2008/burek-2008-effect-of-climate.pdf>.
Kotchen, Matthew, and Nicholas Burger. "SHOULD WE DRILL IN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE? AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE." NBER Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2007. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://cid.bcrp.gob.pe/biblio/Papers/NBER/2007/julio/w13211.pdf>.
Rourke, Dara, and Sarah Connonlly. "Just Oil? The Distribution of Environmental and Social Impacts of Oil Production and Consumption." EScholarship. UC Berkeley, 1 Jan. 2003. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://escholarship.org/uc/item/32t2x692#page-4>.
Teel, Tara, Michael Manfredo, and Jeffery Brooks. "Evidence of Biased Processing of Natural Resource-Related Information: A Study of Attitudes Toward Drilling for Oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Society and Natural Resources. Taylor and Francis Group (federal), 1 Jan. 2006. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2006_teel_t001.pdf>.