More Ships, More Risks: How We’re Protecting the Arctic

As Arctic sea ice continues to diminish, more ships are traversing routes that were once death-defying feats. In the last decade, ship traffic through the Bering Strait alone has more than doubled. The Arctic is home to hundreds of communities and tens of thousands of marine mammals like beluga whales, walruses, and seals. All this … Read more

Tell the President to Stop All Arctic Drilling

We need your help. Tell President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Jewell to halt proposed plans to allow drilling in Alaskan waters. Shell recently announced that it is abandoning its Arctic Ocean drilling program. But that’s not enough. Big oil is waiting to snap up new offshore oil and gas leases. Tell the President … Read more

Will the Paris Deal Protect the Most Vulnerable?

On the last day of the Paris Climate Summit, I sat without internet at a related Arctic symposium. The plus side was that I paid attention to the speakers rather than checking my email. The downside was that I sat in suspense, wondering if the long-awaited agreement from the international talks would be announced. I … Read more

The Arctic Offers a Glimpse Into Our Planet’s Future

This past summer an important thing happened in America’s Arctic. President Obama, who previously had only stopped in Alaska to refuel Air Force One, decided to spend some quality time with us to explore our magnificent landscapes. And he fell in love—not only with our jaw-dropping scenery, but also with our vibrant Alaska Native cultures. … Read more

Big Win: President Obama Stops Arctic Drilling

In a stunning development this week, President Obama announced that he is cancelling upcoming oil and gas lease sales for Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska. And, in a companion move, the Department of the Interior denied requests by Shell and Statoil to extend the leases they already hold in the Arctic Ocean. These … Read more

Arctic Ocean and Wildlife Warrant Special International Protection

Co-authored by Alex Levinson and Kevin Harun, Pacific Environment First published in High North News and Huffington Post Imagine traveling seas beset by hurricane force winds, extreme waves, poorly charted waters, and long seasons of darkness. Where calls for help may not be readily answered. Now, imagine pristine seas where exotic wildlife, some traveling great … Read more

Arctic Peoples and Wildlife Receive Unique, Historic Protection

Today, we celebrate a historic win for the Arctic, its wildlife, and its peoples. After years of negotiations, at 9 a.m. London time, the international community agreed to establish some special protections for this magnificent region. The new laws, known as the Polar Code, forbid ships traversing the Arctic to dump garbage, sewage, and oil … Read more

Walrus Haul-Outs on Beaches: Some Solutions

In late September, about 35,000 walrus crowded together on a beach in northwest Alaska. This was not an isolated incident, but its sheer size attracted a lot of media attention. It clearly showed that climate change is severely altering walrus behavior. These walrus haul-outs are happening on both sides of the Bering Strait. Pacific Environment’s … Read more

Polar Code: U.S. Should Lead HFO Ban

Op-Ed first published in The Maritime Executive Former U.S. Coast Guard commandant Admiral Robert Papp is visiting Alaska for the first time in his new capacity as the U.S. special representative for the Arctic. Admiral Papp was appointed last month by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. This is a proposal requesting Admiral Robert J. … Read more

25 Years Later: Did We Learn Anything from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?

This year’s traditional Iditarod dog sled race began, as usual, with great excitement along the snowy streets of my hometown, Anchorage, Alaska. Dogs yelped and cried, straining their harnesses, eager to leap into the air and run. Meanwhile, we Alaskans, dressed in bright, traditional parkas, were packed tightly on the sidewalks surrounding the staging areas. … Read more

Creating a Strong Polar Code Is Our Priority

We all know climate change is having a huge impact here in the northland – and with it the Arctic Ocean is changing rapidly. Arctic sea ice is disappearing fast. Credible research now suggests that the Arctic may be ice free during the summer as early as this decade —84 years earlier than previously predicted … Read more

Shell Abandons Plan for Drilling in Arctic Seas

Yesterday, the CEO of Shell Oil announced sharply lower earnings and canceled plans to try to drill in Arctic seas off the coast of Alaska.  While couched in terms of a temporary decision applying only to this summer’s drilling season, the actual press announcement by the company had the feel of a more dramatic change … Read more

Protecting the Arctic Means Protecting Its People

With climate change melting Arctic ice at an ever alarming rate, we know big changes are in store for this pristine environment. But what impact will the big meltdown have on people? I have talked with climatologists who say that one big impact will be erratic weather. High pressure tends to center over the coldest … Read more

The Arctic: The New Wild West

Centuries ago, European settlers stumbled upon the New World, a pristine world teaming with wildlife and abundance. Immediately the race was on to exploit these resources which were thought to be limitless. We now know what happened to the great northern forests, the prairie, the buffalo and the Native Americans who depended on the environment … Read more

A Warming Arctic Threatens Subsistence Communities

Back in January, I was asked to present on the topic of food sovereignty and climate change for the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples conference. As I was mulling over what to say, it dawned on me that most issues and threats that indigenous communities are facing today are quite similar, regardless of where they live. Indigenous … Read more

No Rest for Shell Oil and President Obama

I was hopeful that some real progress would be made when the Department of the Interior suspended Shell’s drilling program in the Arctic because of the company’s chain of embarrassing failures and near-disasters in 2012. But last week, the government’s 60-day investigation of Shell’s Arctic drilling program mainly confirmed what we already knew: Shell is … Read more

Arctic Beats Back Shell Oil

When Shell announced yesterday that it was giving up on its plans to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic this year, I was elated—but not exactly surprised. A chain of embarrassing accidents in 2012 clearly demonstrated Shell’s inability to drill safely in the Arctic. These fiascoes prompted a review of Shell’s drilling program by the … Read more

Ship Traffic Threatens Arctic

Climate change is melting the Arctic ice cap at an alarming rate. As the ice recedes, it gives way to new new sea routes—setting the stage for a dramatic increase in ship traffic that threatens the subsistence lifestyles of indigenous peoples and the health of the Arctic environment. Why should we care that more oil tankers, cargo … Read more

The Curse of Crude

At least since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008 it’s been a common refrain throughout the world that countries must crank up resource extraction projects to stimulate economic development. It’s an easy argument – more resources equal more money which creates better economic conditions – and it’s also wrong. A New York Times … Read more