Blogger profile

Ben Ayliffe

Ben is a staff member from Greenpeace UK. A keen ornithologist who has worked on many Greenpeace issues, Ben is head of the Arctic oil campaign. He lives in London and watches a lot of Arsenal matches.

  • nobile discoverer in dutch harbour

    UPDATE: Over the weekend, Shell quite literally ran into further problems with its near-farcical attempts to drill in the Arctic when its dilapidated drillship Noble Discoverer appeared to run aground after slipping its anchors in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, in what was described as a “stiff breeze.” Whilst Shell denied its vessel had grounded, eyewitnesses painted a very different story, with one local saying that “the stern certainly struck bottom and any report to the contrary is a pure fabrication bordering on outright lies.” Either way, the bizarre scene of a giant rig floating aimlessly towards the shore in such sheltered waters does not say much for the ability of Shell to operate safely in the much more extreme conditions of the icy Polar north...

    Despite spending the GDP of a ... Read more >

  • Drawing a line in the Arctic ice

    Blogpost by Ben Ayliffe - June 22, 2012 at 9:36

    Earlier today at the Rio Earth Summit, Greenpeace joined forces with a host of famous names to demand that the uninhabited area of the High Arctic that lies around the North Pole be legally protected and kept off-limits to the companies and governments that are desperate to see it exploited.

    But why should we bother?

    What happens in the Arctic affects us all. Besides acting as a planetary air-conditioner, the region is a bellwether for the health of our climate and the global ecosystem.

    The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Ice is disappearing at unprecedented levels and with it the habitat of species like the polar bear, while the way of life of the four million people who live above the Arctic Circle is changing forever.

    RIO+20 Arctic RisingAs the ice melts and is replaced ... Read more >



    © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

    Fair play to Cairn Energy. It may not be any good at finding oil under the Arctic, but its press releases are guaranteed to raise a smile. Take today’s news on its 2011 Greenland drilling programme, for example, which was supposed to be the money-spinning project that would open up the Frozen North to a new oil rush and deliver billions of barrels of black gold.

    Or at least it was on paper.

    Although Cairn has admitted to having spent hundreds of millions of pounds hiring huge rigs to work in some of the most inhospitable waters on the planet, all it has managed to do is drill a few dry holes. After analysing samples from two wells in the Atammik Block, the wildcat British firm has found no commercially extractable oil at all. The wells ... Read more >

  • According to a new paper in Nature, sea ice in the Arctic is now declining at a pace and scale not seen for over a thousand years. It estimates that after decades of decline, the amount of ice locked away in the High North is now 2 million km2 smaller than it was at the end of the 20th Century and that ice-free summers at the Pole are likely sooner rather than later.



    © Nick Cobbing/ Greenpeace

    The paper also notes that the increasing rate of melting in the summer is slowing the speed that subsequent winter ice is created. Because it has less time to thicken, this thinner winter ice is even more vulnerable to warmer temperatures and melts even faster the following summer. This so-called “death spiral” is probably why the Arctic has experienced its lowest summer sea... Read more >

  • As sea-ice retreats, still no oil found in the Arctic

    Blogpost by Ben Ayliffe - September 14, 2011 at 9:30

    This month sees the Arctic sea ice minimum, a litmus test for the health of the global climate, with indications suggesting the extent in 2011 could be the lowest level ever.

    Arctic sea ice acts like the planet’s air conditioning system and, like miners who used canaries to warn of deadly gases, we have the extent and volume of this ice to warn us of climate change

    Summer melting is now at the highest rate since records began nearly 40 years ago and scientists are already calling the loss of Arctic sea ice "stunning…yet another wake up call that climate change is here now."

    The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is currently in the far North, working with top climate scientists to ascertain the thickness of the shrinking ice around Svalbard. As the ice retreats, companies like Shell are... Read more >

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