Gates of the Arctic: The Pipeline

The pipeline has caused me many mixed emotions. It’s a modern wonder. The fact that they have a pipeline that runs from the far reaches of northern Alaska in Prudhoe Bay and ships crude oil down to Valdez is truly incredible. It takes the oil 11.9 days to make the trip from where it comes out of the ground to Valdez over 800 miles away.

The existence of the pipeline is also what made me able to visit Gates of the Arctic National Park. Its existence is also necessary for me to be able to drive a car throughout this portion of the trip.

We are pillaging our Earth for natural resources and we have no idea what ecological damage it will cause. They have said that when they are finished drilling for oil they will remove the entire pipeline and restore the Arctic ecosystem. Will they though? Will they ever stop drilling? Or will they just find a new way to extract the oil that they couldn’t get using this method?

We live in a world and society that is satiated by crude oil. We need it for gasoline, oil, plastics and so much more. What happens when it’s gone? What happens when we’ve sucked the core out of our planet and emitted it as fumes through our mufflers?

The pipeline is truly amazing, but at what cost. I wish I were omnipotent, I wish that I could see the future. Do I need to stop driving? Is my desire to visit all of the parks, to travel the globe simply contributing to our own downfall? Or does it matter? Will an asteroid end it all? Will the Yellowstone supervolcano be the great equalizer as it blows everything to smithereens?

The hardest thing about caring for the environment is that I cannot articulate the value that I get out of seeing two bears roughhouse on the tundra. Words are not sufficient to explain the childlike glee, joy and giddiness that I felt when I saw a wolf in the wild. People feel the pain of high gas prices. As much as I can attempt to appeal to your heart, your sense of wonder, your progeny, and the future of humankind. People aren’t going to ride their bikes everywhere, or stop using fossil fuels because of what I say or do. It is something that they have to do for themselves. 

I realize that Halliburton made this sign tongue-in-cheek, it's a joke, I get it. But what if, what if isn't a joke. What if this is our future? Would you be happy about it? Would you be willing to modify your actions?