Green Piece: Climate change

Print This Page

First Posted: 11/11/2014

Lately I can’t seem to get a certain image out of my head. I’m sure you have all seen the image pop up on your Facebook news feed or on Twitter. At first it looks like nothing really, but give it a closer look at it’s a haunting image that shows just how bad things are getting in the Arctic. The image I’m talking about is of an Arctic beach that’s been overrun with walruses due to a lack of sea ice. A few weeks ago, more than 35,000 of these unique animals were forced ashore onto an Alaskan beach because they had no ice on which to rest.

Climate change is happening right before our eyes and it’s no joke. Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is rapidly melting because of climate change, creating a difficult situation for sea walruses. As if these animals aren’t having a tough enough time as it is, companies like Shell are making it worse. The company intends on drilling in a popular walrus foraging area as early as 2015. Oil drilling operations in the Arctic chase walruses away from food rich foraging areas, trigger harmful stampedes and let out seismic blasts that are often deafening to the animals. The drilling could also cause a catastrophic oil spill, something that could very likely happen and not be cleaned up.

A combination of conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service for permitting oil companies, like Shell, from harming walruses during Arctic offshore drilling. Earthjustice, a non-profit organization that protects the environment, is leading the way when it comes to preserving the Arctic.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do a much better job of protecting walrus mothers and calves struggling to survive in the dramatically changing Chukchi Sea,” said Earthjustice Attorney Erik Grafe. “Today’s challenge seeks to protect walruses from suffering potential serious harm and harassment at the hands of companies like Shell Oil.”

According to Earthjustice, walruses are already under tremendous stress from climate change, their sea ice home is literally melting away. Drilling in the Arctic would only accelerate the climate change that’s already causing so much trouble for the Arctic animals.

“The last thing Arctic walruses need is dirty drilling in the middle of their most important habitat,” said Rebecca Noblin from the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time for oil companies to stop sticking their drills where they don’t belong, and it’s up to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lay down the law.”

The Arctic is one of the planet’s last remaining wilderness areas and needs protection. If you would like to make a donation to help Earthjustice win this critical battle, visit