Oh the hypocrisy. Today is the day that President Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize, with many arguing that he is yet to bring peace.
Today is also the day that Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar will address the Copenhagen conference hours after approving oil giant Shell’s highly controversial plans to drill for oil off Alaska’s northwest coast as early as next summer.
Alaska Natives from the Chukchi Sea are said to be reeling at the news and say it reveals the true agenda of the Obama Administration. They say it threatens their very survival. Happy Peace Prize to the them.
Salazar should expect a tough time from representatives of REDOIL – Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Lands.
“Shell says ‘the Chukchi Sea could be home to some of the most prolific, undiscovered hydrocarbon basins in North America,’ but we’re here to remind Salazar and Shell that it is our home and our lives that will be devastated by the drilling,” said Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of REDOIL, who is attending the climate talks.
Joining Gemmill on her first ever trip outside of North America is Colleen Swan of Kivalina, a community located adjacent to the Chuckchi Sea who is in Copenhagen this week. “As Alaska Natives, our ancestral ways of life and homelands are imperilled by devastating proposals for fossil fuel drilling and development,” she said. “The ecological devastation we see is also compounded by the impacts of climate change, and so it is a lose-lose.”
Elsewhere the inherent contradictions of the climate talks were evident too.
Yesterday, Canada won the “Fossil of the Day” Award. Canada won the award because it has been “relentlessly opposed to measuring emissions in relation to the internationally accepted base year of 1990.”
It came the same days as climate change head, Yvo de Boer said Canada has been negotiating “very constructively” in the talks to the astonishment of all those present.
As the organisers of Fossil of the Day have pointed out: “Could Canada’s desire to erase the past have something to do with fact that tar sands emissions have more than doubled from 1990 to now?“
I think the answer to that is yes. And now we know that the pollution from tar sands is much worse than the industry has admitted publicly.
A new independent study has found that pollution from Alberta’s oilsands is nearly five times greater and twice as widespread as industry figures say.
The study says toxic emissions from the dirty industry are equal to a major oil spill occurring every year.
“We found rather massive inputs of toxic organic compounds by the oilsands industry to the Athabasca River and its tributaries,” said David Schindler, a co-author of the study. “The major contribution to the river was from industry.”
The study, published earlier this week in the prestigious Proceedings of National Academy of Science, also takes direct aim at Alberta’s monitoring program.
“We always found that the major contribution to the river was from industry,” Schindler said.
If Canada wants to be “constructive” at Copenhagen it needs to stop tar sands development.
And Obama has to stop drilling in the Chuckhi Sea too.