The people of Alaska's Inupiat Eskimo communities have lived in relative harmony with nature for centuries. Their hardscrabble existence is dependent on hunting and fishing. It's how they support their families.
The Inupiat way of life - and the delicate balance of nature that supports it - could soon fall victim to the same sort of offshore drilling disaster now occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.
Shell Oil wants to make millions of dollars from these pristine waters. But there's a cost to that greed.
A spill in the Chukchi - even the day-to-day damage done by offshore oil drilling operations in these waters - could spell disaster for the people, polar bears, whales and other wildlife that rely on the Chukchi to survive.
The Inupiat lead a subsistence lifestyle that depends on their ability to hunt bowhead whales, walrus, seals, beluga whales, polar bears, birds, and fish, all of which depend upon the health of the Chukchi Sea ecosystem.
Shell's drilling plans could decimate Chukchi ecosystems - and the communities that rely upon them to survive.
Any day now Shell will start to send ships up to the Chukchi. Under the oil company's plan, huge 514-foot-long drill ship and an armada of support vessels and aircraft would patrol the waters of the icy Arctic Ocean -- generating industrial noise, and emitting tons of heat-trapping gases and both air water pollutants.
The catastrophic oil spill that is devastating the Louisiana Gulf Coast right now is truly a call to action. As we send this out to you the horror of the Gulf disaster is spreading and oil is decimating fisheries and dependent communities. We need to make sure that the same does not happen to the Inupiate people of Alaska.
The last time a disaster of such proportions hit Alaska was the Exxon-Valdez spill in 1989. To this day, human and wildlife communities have not fully recovered.
Thirty years later, there's still no effective, proven technology to clean up oil spills in broken sea ice conditions, such as those found in the Chukchi Sea - that means an oil spill could doom rare arctic whales, threatened polar bears and other wildlife to extinction and destroy Inupiat communities if drilling proceeds.
The Inupiat communities -- like the wildlife of the Chukchi Sea -- are unique and irreplaceable. Please take action today to protect them.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People by William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, Amnesty International has joined with Defenders of Wildlife to urge the Obama administration to rescind offshore drilling leases in the Chukchi Sea: