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Oil and Gas Lease Sale in the Chukchi Sea

Shell announced that the company is hitting the pause button on oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic. Mother Nature graphically demonstrated this summer what conservation groups have been saying for more than a decade—the extreme weather and conditions of the Arctic, with its stormy, frozen seas make the Arctic environmentally treacherous for oil drilling.

With one Arctic drill rig shipwrecked on an Alaskan island and the other reportedly under criminal investigation for possibly “operating with serious safety and pollution control problems,” oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is doing a pretty thorough job at proving the quest for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic is just too dangerous, too dirty, and too damaging. The week’s events also prove once again that the U.S. Department of Interior should not have approved drilling in the most remote, dangerous place on the planet.

As I write this, ships are being prepared to steam northward from several ports to begin poking holes in the floor of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in search of oil.

Thanks to legal action by Earthjustice over the last few years, and thanks also to a one-year time-out called in the wake of the catastrophic blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the drilling has been forestalled, but it could finally begin this July. Legal challenges are still pending, but the odds seem long against them.

That said, this is closer to the beginning of this struggle than to its end.

On backing down, backing away, and backing into a corner . . .

President Obama’s statement, “I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago,” was one the more awkward sentences in his State of the Union speech, and not just syntactically.

Two longtime bachelors are proving that it’s never too late to find love.

Al (widowed) and Tex (serially dater) were getting up there in the years and were perhaps more than a bit rusty on the romance angle, neither having enjoyed the company of the fairer sex for decades. But when the lovely Patches and coquettish Corky came to town, all bets were off and these old-timers were back in the game. The girls were nearly half their age, but love knows no boundaries—and these Aldabra giant tortoises were no exception.

The Arctic has invaded Seattle. And Berkeley. And Venice. (Venice, California, not the Italian city of gondolas.)

Fortunately, this is not to say that the next Ice Age has unexpectedly crept up on us while we were preoccupied with this whole climate change debacle. Rather, wildlife photographer Florian Schulz and his partner Emil Herrera-Schulz have succeeded in bringing the Arctic to us, in one stunning photograph after another: