President Obama’s Legacy: Arctic Drilling?

by Nithin Coca

May 14, 2015

Right now, Shells drilling rig is getting ready to head to the Arctic Ocean, where it is set to begin drilling for oil when the ice thaws this summer. This is the closest we've ever been to an Arctic environmental catastrophe.

A polar bear swims in a sea inlet which is beginning to freeze at the beginning of October, outside the city of Kaktovik. Stranded polar bears, Alaska. As the Arctic sea ice retreats over 700 miles from the shore in the summer, bears must either head north or swim south to land as the ice breaks up. Scientists anticipate that the number of bears on shore will increase as sea ice loss continues. Image taken from a boat with a 400mm lens as not to interfere with the bears behaviour.

Kajsa Sjölander/70°

Right now, Shells Arctic-bound drilling rig is getting ready to head to the Arctic Ocean, where it is set to begin drilling for oil when the ice thaws this summer. This is the closest weve ever been to an Arctic environmental catastrophe.

This is not the time to drill for more oil. It is not just the Arctic. The headlines are ominous – drought is ravaging California, storms are raging in the Pacific, and polar ice levels are at record lows. All of these are connected directly to climate change caused chiefly by the burning of fossil fuels.

The answer is clear – burn less fuels. According to a study in the journal Nature in order for us to avoid the 2 degree temperature rise that scientists say will lead to catastrophic climate change, we need to keep all Arctic oil in the ground.

President Obama knows this. That is why, last year, he helped designate the worlds largest marine reserve, and why he spoke strongly on climate change.

This is also why President Obama needs to rescind Shells drilling permit. In the past, he has responded to public pressure, which is why were ramping up our campaign calling on him to do the right thing.

In fact, we think that, logically, President Obama should be on our side.

He does not have to worry about future elections. He has just less than two years remaining in office. Congress has stood in the way of many of his environmental initiatives, but this decision is within his purview as chief executive.

In fact, at this point in his Presidency, what President Obama should be most concerned about his legacy. That is also why he must put a stop to Shells summer plans. If he lets Shell drill, then he will always be remembered as the President who paved the path for the destruction of the Arctic. If he joins us, and stops Shells dangerous plans, then he will be rightly remembered as a President who stood up to big oil and saved the Arctic.

Make sure he knows what the people want. Click and join half a million others asking President Obama to do the right thing. Stop Shell, save the Arctic, and preserve his legacy.

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