Battle of the Arctic


The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, is the last true arctic wilderness in North America. 

ANWR is home to a variety of animals such as bears, millions of migratory birds, foxes, caribous, whales and indigenous people who rely on the environment for survival.

“I have heard about it since I was a kid, it was formed when I was a baby and for my whole life time the debate of whether we should drill or not has been in the news,” social studies teacher Mathew Cribbs said.

The Arctic is warming faster than any other place in the world. However, this region provides for everyone on this planet an estimated $281 billion a year in food, minerals, oil, hunting and climate stabilization.

The climate stabilization provided by the Arctic is worth more than $216 billion. It includes the arctic storage of methane and frost.

According to the National Audubon Society it would cost $216 billion to stabilize the climate if the  Arctic Climate was destroyed.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. If it stays trapped in the arctic ice, it will not affect the ozone layer.

History teacher and political enthusiast Mattew Cribbs has been interested in the situation since he was a child.

“I think there are ways we can drill and not kill the animals,” Cribbs said. ¨We would be wise to use the energy on hand.”

While some believe digging will provide for the country, others believe there are other, more efficient ways to acquire the oil and gas.

¨I don’t think finding oil will justify what they are doing because we have found oil in much more suitable locations that are not  as private and left alone as the Arctic,¨ sophomore Roman Begue said.

In an effort to reverse climate change, there is a push for energy solutions, meaning many banks have refused to fund new oil drilling operations at ANWR.

The arctic economy is formed in part by tourism, fishing, mineral extraction and of course the oil and gas industry; all of which contribute to not only Alaska’s economy, but also The United States strategy to energy independence.

Towards the end of 2020, former president Donald Trump made an executive order to start oil drilling in the arctic. This could lead to the discovery of billions of dollars in untapped oil.

Meanwhile, many believe that there is as much value in keeping the Arctic untouched as well. 

Junior Maddy McCarthy has been following the situation and is passionate about keeping the arctic as natural as possible in order to protect the wildlife.

¨Humans drilling disturbs the animal’s habitat with the loud noises, light, pollution and vehicle traffic,¨ McCarthy said.

However, globally, within 10 to 15 years, it is predicted that the demands for oil and gas will dramatically increase. The supplies available currently cannot meet the increasing demand of oil and gas by 2031.

Even though drilling will be expensive, the economy is believed to benefit financially from this act. 

¨I feel that drilling brings jobs in which many people will make income even though there are some ways we will not benefit from this,¨ junior Shawn Swift said.

According to The Washington Post; Shell Energy, one of the largest oil companies, bought ANWR leases from the federal government for about $7 billion dollars. 

This gives them the right to drill. However, it is predicted they will spend more than $7 billion to get started.

In 1960, ANWR was designated a protected area, but due to political pressure, the so-called 1002 area was left unprotected due to theories of oil. 

In December 2017, Congress voted to lift the ban on energy development in order to bring more jobs into the United States.

Throughout the past few months, peaceful protests against this act have been occurring as well as petitions and fundraisers. 

Even though Congress believes the benefits outweigh the risks, indigenous tribes and wildlife activists have protested and fought against digging in the Arctic. 

¨I think the only thing left to do now that drilling has already begun is to raise awareness,¨ McCarthy said.

As drilling continues, only time will tell what the effects of actions will be. In the meantime, some ways to reduce our carbon footprint are; plant more trees, recycle, and shop sustainably.