President Obama’s visit to Alaska reveals his administration’s contradictions regarding climate change: Although he has expressed his intention to make the issue a priority, he is simultaneously promoting oil drilling. The carbon dioxide liberated in that process is known to be one of the main causes of global warming.
Alaska is a state where ecological deterioration co-exists with significant popular support for oil drilling, viewed as a field with the potential to generate jobs. Despite the relationship between the two, the President will have to overlook this contradiction and the polluting activities of the oil industry in order to focus on the environmental issues.
The White House’s priority has been reducing polluting, fossil fuel emissions by introducing new regulations to be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although Obama has been one of the U.S. presidents to pay the most attention to climate change, he also recently authorized Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling in the pristine waters of the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of northeast Alaska. The permission to drill at low depths has rightfully angered environmentalists due to the series of hazards it poses. Add to this the Department of the Interior’s decision to re-authorize off-shore drilling in U.S. at a time when the impact of the 2010 British Petroleum oil rig explosion is still being gauged. The accident was the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history.
The pressures brought about by an economic recovery fueled by cheap oil and gas ‒ obtained mainly through the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing ‒ and the jobs it generates have not gone unnoticed by the White House.
The Arctic epitomizes the devastating impact of global warming. Temperatures in that region have doubled in the past six decades, much faster than in the rest of the world. Glaciers are melting and, everyday, water levels go up, taking up more land. This is also the place where the difficulty of balancing ecology and the economy becomes most evident.