August 6, 2004
A while ago on my blog there were some comments about our dependence on oil which led to a discussion of drilling in the Arctic. I had mentioned a survey done by Nicholas Kristof who actually spent time up in the disputed drilling area and deemed that while pristine, it was basically a wasteland, with nothing but tundra. Today in the NY Times, there is an article on an Alaskan delegate whose biggest beef is the city folk that keep trying to decide the fate of Alaskan land. One fact that quite surprised me is that of Alaska's 365 million acres of land, 300 million are protected! That's 82% of the state. He says that just because New Yorkers may feel they have no space, they shouldn't try to force Alaskans to preserve all their space. I found it to be a good article.
Posted by charr at 10:03 AM
If you feel that Alaska's tundra is nothing but a wasteland, then perhaps you need to watch the PBS show, Scientific American Frontiers special on Alaska.
As for the "City folk dictating what we should do with our land" comment, I'm reminded of the Escalante Staircase Monument controversy. Clinton did what should have been done a long time ago, and I'm glad that Judge Dee Benson had the kiwis to uphold it.
The term "wasteland" was coined by the NY Times columnist (who appears leftist). From what I've seen and heard, there isn't a whole lot there. The Escalante Staircase issue also came to my mind as I wrote this. That caused a lot of controversy and I'd have to say it should be a state issue, regardless of the outcome.
The caribou use the Alaskan tundra for calving during their winter migration, not to mention muskox, wolves and brown bear. Here's a pretty informative site that shows some of the things that rely on the Alaskan tundra ecosystem.I've had the misfortune of working on a number of oil rigs in Wyoming and they are an environmental nightmare. Everything from the access roads and man-camps to the drilling platforms leave the landscape scarred. Perhaps if the fear of depleted fossil fuels becomes more of a reality research for alternatives will push forward.
I fear we're hitting a tangent here. I don't deny that the tundra serves as a valuable ecosystem. I will also credit you for having much more experience in the oil rig area. I also side with you that we need to find some alternative energy measures. However, the main point of this article was to point out that the locals are likely better positioned here than the federal government, who has cut off 82% of the land. My hunch is that there is a lot of things that could be developed without too much of an impact, and the locals probably have best perspective to decide such things.