Good news (for environmentalists) before the Christmas New Year-break: There will be no oil drilling in the Alaska's Arctic national wildlife reserve. Republicans have battled to allow drilling in the reserve for 25 years. Although they pledged to try again next year, the defeat was expected to remove the issue from the agenda for a decade, according to The Age.
The region is home to hundreds of polar bears, and tens of thousands of caribou and other animals. Interesting how the concept of beauty differs. Alaska's 82-year-old senator Ted Stevens is quoted. The wildlife refuge was a "barren, frozen wasteland", with "constant tundra, no trees, no beauty at all".
Concerning oil drilling, the Inuit are divided as ethnic US Americans: Oil of course means money, therefore Nunatsiaq wrote some years ago: Alaskan Inuit support oil drilling in the ANWR.
In an Guardian article we meet Bruce Inglangasak, an Inupiat Inuit. He describes one of the consequences of the oil drilling in another Alaskan region - it's smog:
"When the wind blows from the west, a yellow-brown smog goes right across the horizon. In the summer, when I go fishing, it burns my eyes. It's not just the air. Every time it rains our fish get it and our whales get it. You can feel the difference when you hold the fish now. The flesh is not as firm as it once was."
The article goes on, telling that the oilfields have not turned out to be the ecological showpieces the Inupiat were promised:
More oil was found than expected and the drilling rigs, roads and pipelines now dominate the landscape. There is an average of more than one toxic spill a day; 43,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxides are released into the air each year, more than in Washington DC.
Nevertheless, he is not against the drilling:
For all his unease about the contamination of his ancestral lands, Mr Inglangasak needs a job. He has an eight-year-old daughter, and hunting and fishing are not enough to keep her clothed, housed and educated.
Seems to be more a problem of capitalism!
Zebedee Nungak: Arctic Christmas - The then and now (very nostalgic column in the Windspeaker about the commercialisation of Christmas)