I recently read an article in Scientific American (May 2001) titled “the arctic oil & wildlife refuge.” The article addresses the issue of whether or not science has the ability to clarify the potential economic benefits and the ecological risks of drilling into the nation’s last great coastal wilderness preserve. What I began to wonder after reading the article is, if we humans should continue our scientific and technological petroleum endeavors even though we are causing irreversible harm to our earth. My feeling is that we should not drill in Alaska’s Arctic.
In the early twentieth century, science and technology brought the automobile. In less than one hundred ...view middle of the document...
In the case of the Arctic over the past twenty-five years, biologists have been studying and have quantified how underground petroleum activities disturb the life on the surface. For the past thirty-years, petroleum geologists have worked to create less destructive methods of locating and removing oil. Typically people think of science and technology working together to better our lives. In the Arctic situation it is more a case of science versus technology. These two groups of scientists, biologists and geologists, have been pitted against one another. It is difficult to determine who to believe and in that decision, it depends on what one feels to be more important: nature or need. What we must also consider is who the funding for the studies is coming from.
Who funds scientific studies is a critical point and one worth taking a look at. Whoever is providing the money for studies has a vested interest in what the final outcome will be. Skewed science is looked down upon by the professional scientific community but is highly common. Private petroleum companies who are eager to begin drilling in the tundra employ the petroleum geologists working in Alaska. The biologists studying the Alaskan ecosystem are mostly working for both governmental (US Geological Survey) and private (Audubon Society) organizations. Final outcomes of scientific projects are also an issue of the agendas of private interests. What sadly becomes apparent to me is that funding and competing interests blur an issue of ecological preservation and technological supply. It is amazing how compounded and multifaceted a scientific and technological issue becomes.
When I look at the photographs of Alaska’s Arctic Wildlife Refuge, I am absolutely amazed at the beauty of the environment. Snowcapped mountains surrounded by dark green valleys are sprinkled with lakes and meandering streams and of course the fauna that lives in one of the earth’s most harsh climates. I can not help but feel that the wildlife refuge be preserved and remain untouched. Life has evolved over millions of years dancing a delicate dance with nature and resulting in a fine ecological balance. Humans have also danced this same dance with nature and we too have found our niche but unlike the rest of the natural world, we continue to alter and remake the natural world in order to fulfill our created needs. We have taken on the role of nature and despite warnings, we continue determining what will become of ecosystems.
Human’s impact on the natural world is becoming a more popular issue as we are extending our influences from infrastructure development to gene splicing. It is difficult to say when and if at all we should stop our quest. The issue becomes a moral issue for many concerned people but again it depends on which side of the field we come from. Environmental issues are increasingly creeping into the American conscious however we are also so reliant on petroleum that for...