, Salem, MA


November 7, 2013

Watson: Greenpeace opposes oil drilling in the Arctic


Consequently, oil companies are planning to venture farther north than ever before with large oil-drilling platforms. An estimated 175 billion barrels of oil and gas are buried under the Arctic seas, and Gazprom and Shell and many others are eager to raise it.

The problem is this. In the freezing, difficult weather and waters of the Arctic, there is the potential for a disastrous oil accident. In 2010, when the British Petroleum oil well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out its cap almost 1 mile below the surface and spewed out roughly 4 million barrels (206 million gallons) of oil over the course of three months, we were nearly unable to halt the rupture. And that was in a warm, calm, tranquil-seas environment.

Duplicate that accident in the Arctic, and there is a very real possibility that man and technology would not be able to stop the gusher, period.

Greenpeace is asking us to consider the risks of Arctic drilling, the risks of burning fossil fuels and the risks of ever-increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. If we don’t stop to appreciate the risks that our current energy technologies entail, then we may not find the motivation to make better choices.

Brian T. Watson is a Salem News columnist. Contact him at

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