The Arctic ice we all depend on is disappearing. Fast.
In the last 30 years, we’ve lost as much as three-quarters of the floating sea ice cover at the top of the world. The volume of that sea ice measured by satellites in the summer, when it reaches its smallest, has shrunk so fast that scientists say it’s now in a ‘death spiral’.
For over 800,000 years, ice has been a permanent feature of the Arctic ocean. It’s melting because of our use of dirty fossil fuel energy, and in the near future it could be ice free for the first time since humans walked the Earth. This would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there – but for the rest of us too.
The ice at the top of the world reflects much of the sun’s heat back into space and keeps our whole planet cool, stabilising the weather systems that we depend on to grow our food. Protecting the ice means protecting us all.
A new Arctic oil rush is starting. Shell, BP, Exxon, Gazprom, Rosneft and others want to risk a devastating Arctic oil spill for only three years’ worth of oil.
The same dirty energy companies that caused the Arctic to melt in the first place are looking to profit from the disappearing ice. They want to open up a new oil frontier to get at a potential 90 billion barrels of oil. That’s a lot of money to them, but it’s only three years’ worth of oil to the world.
Previously classified government documents say dealing with oil spills in the freezing waters is “almost impossible” and inevitable mistakes would shatter the fragile Arctic environment.
To drill in the Arctic, oil companies have to drag icebergs out the way of their rigs and use giant hoses to melt floating ice with warm water. If we let them do this, a catastrophic oil spill is just a matter of time.
We’ve seen the extreme damage caused by the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters – we cannot let this happen in the Arctic.
Arctic nations are preparing for possible conflict over the Arctic.
As the Wikileaks cables show, the US has spoken of “increased military threats in the Arctic” and Russia has predicted “armed intervention” in the future.
Countries are spending billions on Arctic weaponry, threatening the long-term peace of the region. Nuclear-powered ice-breakers, submarines and fighter jets are being purchased by Arctic states with overlapping claims on the area around the North Pole.
The best way to maintain the peace there is to make its resources off-limits. That’s why we’re campaigning for a global sanctuary and a ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing.
Just like in Antarctica, we need an Arctic Ocean dedicated to peace and science.
There is no government or army to protect the Arctic, only countries and companies looking to carve it up.
There are seven billion of us on our planet. Each and every one of us is affected by the health of the Arctic: by reflecting the sun’s rays off its ice, the Arctic shapes our weather patterns and the food we grow and eat.
But the Arctic is the frontline of our warming climate – heating up twice as fast as anywhere else. It’s also the frontline of the oil industry – one of the dirty, dead fuels responsible for the melting in the first place.
By stopping the new oil rush in the Arctic we are creating the conditions for a radical change in how we power our lives, accelerating the clean energy revolution that will fuel the future for our children.
We know we’re going up against the most powerful countries and companies in the world.
But together we have something stronger than any country’s military or any company’s budget. Our shared concern for the planet we leave our children transcends all the borders that divide us and makes us – together – the most powerful force today.
30 years ago we launched a similar campaign to protect the Antarctic. Nobody thought we would succeed, but we did, and we created a world park around the South Pole.