Beyond Ironic, Obama's Pending Arctic Visit Invites Charges of Hypocrisy
“Alaskans are on the front lines of one of the greatest challenges we face this century: climate change,” President Barack Obama said in a video posted on the White House website Thursday, in which he announced an upcoming trip to the state to highlight the crisis of global warming. “Climate change once seemed like a problem for future generations. But for most Americans, it’s already a reality.”
The words are nice. But some environmentalists have seized on the hypocrisy of Obama’s rhetoric, given that he recently gave the final go-ahead for Royal Dutch Shell to drill for Arctic offshore oil in the Chukchi Sea near Alaska.
Climate activists and scientists alike have warned that Shell’s spotty safety record, combined with carbon that would be unlocked through drilling and extraction, pose severe danger to the ocean ecosystem, climate, and frontline communities.
Indeed, the prospect of drilling in the Arctic while promoting the need to protect it is “like shooting rhinos to save them,” Ben Schreiber, climate and energy program director at Friends of the Earth, told the Huffington Post‘s Kate Sheppard.
Just yesterday, Oil Change International and Greenpeace released a report stating plainly that in order to stave off “climate disaster,” Arctic oil must stay in the ground. Arctic drilling is “inconsistent” with efforts to keep global warming to less than 2° Celsius, according to the assessment, which echoed similar findings by other researchers.
“The bottom line is that there is no room for Arctic oil in a climate safe world,” OCI’s Hannah McKinnon wrote. “By allowing Shell to drill in the U.S. offshore Arctic Ocean, the Obama Administration is ignoring the world’s best scientists, as well as millions of concerned citizens in North America and beyond.”
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