THE Obama administration’s decision to give Shell Oil the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic shows why we may never win the fight against climate change. Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no.
By “extreme” I don’t just mean that Shell will be drilling for oil in places where there’s no hope of cleaning up the inevitable spills (remember the ineptness of BP in the balmy, accessible Gulf of Mexico, and now transpose it 40 degrees of latitude north, into some of the harshest seas on the planet).
No, what’s most extreme here is the irresponsibility of Shell, now abetted by the White House. A quarter century ago, scientists warned that if we kept burning fossil fuel at current rates we’d melt the Arctic. The fossil fuel industry (and most everyone else in power) ignored those warnings, and what do you know: The Arctic is melting, to the extent that people now are planning to race yachts through the Northwest Passage, which until very recently required an icebreaker to navigate.