Ahh I see that the United States has leaped out and declared polar bears to be a threatened species. This is despite estimated polar bear populations having doubled in the last 40 years.
I wonder how much the speed of growth must increase before populations are considered stable?
Now this declaration will have some impacts of that there is no doubt.
The push to ban aboriginal guided polar bear hunts will now have more strength to it. Sure that industry is only worth a few million a year, but in considering how few people actually live up there this is a strong economic hit to them. But hey, why not put a few more native people on welfare in order for latte-lappers in urban areas to feel better about protecting them cute fuzzy critters eh?
The next impact will be an increased push against Arctic oil exploration. Ironically, those opposed to Arctic oil production are often those who are howling about high energy costs. You cant have it both ways guys.
This is an area where I have some knowledge. I just got back from spending a few months on the Beaufort Sea a little while ago. That was my third winter spent in the Arctic working on oil exploration projects. My company builds maps and measures ice-thicknesses to assure the safety of workers up there.
I love working in the Arctic. I have had the rare privilege of seeing a wild polar bear among other animals and they are beautiful. I would never want to see these animals threatened with extinction.
What I am stumped on though is how people think oil exploration is going to harm polar bears? So far in three years up there, the worst incident that I have seen due to our operations has been a ptarmigan that got hit by a truck on an ice-road. No polar bears have even come close to being harmed yet.
When working on the sea, our prime form of transportation is shown below.
While those nodwells are pretty handy on the ice, rest assured they do not move quickly enough to run down a polar bear. Anti-freeze is specially contained and we have pans under all vehicles in order to avoid leaving so much as a drip of motor oil on the ice.
Oh and Paul there who is pictured above will likely end up on welfare as will his kids if the environmentalists have their way. I keep saying the welfare thing simply as it is true. There are not many ways to make a living in the Arctic. The oil and gas industry offers generations worth of prosperity for native populations in the North. While the latte-lappers like to envision noble Eskimos living in igloos in tune with nature, they seem to always forget to ask the aforementioned natives if indeed that is what they want. Rest assured, while most northern aboriginals proudly embrace many traditional aspects of their culture, they are not eager to return to the harsh days of living on the land with a life expectancy under 30 years.
For our accomodations we stay in barge camps that are towed out in summer and frozen in for the season. We only work winters as transportation is easier and our environmental impact is nil. All waste is trucked out and taken to approved disposal facilities.
Part of my posting pics is simply to show where I disappear to every winter, the other part is to point out that I do have some idea what the hell I am talking about regarding Arctic issues. The usual (urban dwelling) environmentalist reaction to criticism is that the critic has no knowledge of such issues.
We have repeatedly dedicated space in our camps to university groups and such who are doing arctic studies and are on limited budgets. Yes those evil oil companies are actually encouraging impartial impact studies. I am happy to announce that a group studying seals who resided briefly with us a few years ago found that seal populations in active oil areas were far higher than they had anticipated. They seemed almost disappointed to discover that we had not been having a negative impact.
That is the reality. Modern oil development in the Arctic has virtually no negative environmental impact.
Environmental controls have a role and it is an important one. Blind opposition to development and kneejerk reactions to issues do not help anybody however.
The world is suffering under high energy prices. There is tremendous amount of oil and gas in Canada’s Arctic. Rest assured if this is ever brought onstream we can see some easing on the cost of living for many Canadians. We also will see the employment of countless Inuit, Dene and Inuvialuit people up there who currently have nothing but dependency to look forward to. So far though, not a drop of Arctic oil or gas has been brought to market as the pipeline application has been mired by environmental challenges for decades.
The energy companies and their contractors do not want to harm the environment believe it or not.
Everybody involved will be better off if we keep our environmental concerns based within reality. The listing of polar bears by Americans as threatened was baseless and will have negative impacts on us all.