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The economy of the US is driven by petrol and oil, and according to politicians and scientists the pipelines, pumping stations are perfect targets for potential terrorists. This is why a new energy plan for powering the country is needed.
One of the ideas discussed by the Congress is drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and at the same time, decisions to cut the funding for renewable energy research and other programs for energy efficiency.
To be able to reduce the dependability on foreign oil is the goal of all these discussions for a new energy plan, but according to the US Geological Survey, the reserves of oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will take 7 years to pump and will be sufficient only for 6 months for powering the US economy.
This is why, more people are opposed to plan to drill the last 5% of the north coast of Alaska which has been left without oil exploration and damaging this national heritage which plays an important role for the web of life in the arctic.
The fact is that there are a number of alternatives to improve US energy security, without damaging the natural heritage. A policy for energy saving and improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses should become a national one. Experts say that a good energy saving policy can actually cut the consumption by one third just for 10 years. This means that the Arctic Refuge can be left unharmed because the energy saved for just a year will compensate for twice as much oil which can be tapped from there.
The Union of Concerned Scientists also concluded in a report that a massive 20% of the energy needs of the US people and economy can be met by applying energy saving policies and using renewable energy sources in the next 20 years.
Also, managing to increase fuel efficiency for cars and other vehicles to about 40 miles per gallon for all vehicles in the US will help save 3 million barrels of oil. Unfortunately Congress refused to approve legislation for increasing fuel efficiency standards and requirements.
Using more renewable and diffuse energy sources like solar or wind energy can help reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on big power infrastructures, such as pipelines, power plants and refineries. The current vulnerability of the energy infrastructure is a fact. This was best proven by the incident with a gunman firing several bullets in part of the Trans-Alaska pipeline which led to the leakage of about 300,000 gallons of oil and closing nearly 17% of the shipment of national oil.
By making a faster transition to using renewable energy sources more the dependence on foreign oil will decrease dramatically and so will the risk of a terrorist attack on the energy system. Plus, it will protect nature and the natural resources of the country.
With the global warming causing severe changes in the weather around the globe, the effect it has on the Arctic is quite dramatic lately too. The temperatures there as well as everywhere are rising and the scary forecasts are that there will be no more ice left in the Arctic Ocean in the 2030’s.
Even though it has been normal for some ice melting to occur during the warm summer season, the shrinking per decade has reached 13%, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There is already a global rise in the temperatures, stronger storms and draughts which are lasting longer, desertification and increased acidification of the oceans. The melting of the ice in the Arctic will also affect the climate and all of our lives. Here is why:
- The Arctic ice reflects the sunlight
The lower latitude is the main reason for the colder temperatures on the poles, but so is the fact that most of the direct sunlight there gets reflected directly back. This albedo causes limited heat absorption and keeps both poles cold. Now, the lesser the ice, the lesser it reflects back the sunlight and thus increased temperatures and melting.
- The influence the ice has on the ocean currents
Both the air and the oceans are constantly circulating the heat and looking for balance. This happens by the normal air circulation as well as the thermohaline circulation (THC). The melting ice affects both processes, and causes an overall increase of the global temperature, and it changes the normal wind patterns which cause pushing more ice to the Atlantic Ocean.
- The ice helps insulate the air
The Arctic Ocean is cold, but the air in the Arctic is even colder in the winter. The ice is actually like insulation and keeps the warmer temperature of the ocean from warming the air. This is another reason for the cold temperatures on the poles. Now that the Arctic ice is melting intensively, more het gets released.
- The ice keeps the methane safely away
The Arctic tundra and sediments have very large deposits of methane which is frozen and is safe at its current state. But if these deposits are released they could pose a serious greenhouse gas climate risk.
- The ice helps curb severe weather
It helps prevent longer and stronger storms in the Arctic with bigger waves which can pose bigger dangers.
- The ice supports the native people and wildlife
Living and hunting is more dangerous and difficult on melting ice, so the people are moving out and to higher grounds. Also, the melting of the ice threatens the survival not only of the polar bears, but arctic seals, walruses, whales and all marine life as well.