Monday, January 12, 2015

Fox in the Hen House

There is something fundamentally broken about the way our government operates. Ignoring how ridiculous the incumbent win rate is, or the fact that we are now in an oligarchy represented by those with more wealth than many in our country can even imagine, the real concern is in our legislative committees.

Congress oversees so many bills and pieces of our national government that they attempt to delegate those responsibilities and lighten the load. Covering issues like agriculture, economy and veterans affairs, these committees not only are responsible for legislation in these areas but on hearings and even the budgets of government agencies.

The ideal is that those with expertise or grounding in the subject matter of these committees would serve as members. The reality is far from the ideal. How our system currently works is that the leadership of the parties in control decide who gets placed into these committees and who chairs them. Yesterday, as part of the transition of our Senate to Republican Control, Senator Ted Cruz was appointed chair of the Space, Science and Competitiveness committee. Senator Cruz's appointment is the sign of a broken system.

This committee oversees "science, engineering, and technology research and development" including the agency NASA. The biggest fear with Cruz's new position is that he has a bad track record when it comes to science and NASA. There is also concern, as a die-hard Tea Party Budget Hawk, that Cruz will take an AX to the budget of the agency. As the main spear-header of the government shutdown, he caused more lasting damage to scientific research than we can really measure. As a staunch Climate-Change denier, Cruz seems like he would be less than likely to listen to NASA's findings on the subject. NASA is the leading source of climate data, so the publicly stated goal of both Cruz and other republicans on the committee to refocus NASA on space exploration creates a nervous situation.

One may think that being faced with the findings of NASA's carbon project, or witnessing the ice-caps receding from NASA's Operation: Ice-Bridge could change the denier into a believer, but his historic denial of facts and his long standing on this same committee makes most doubt such an effect will occur.

This leadership shift should come as no surprise, the high likelihood of Cruz becoming a "Lead Senator on science" was reported after November elections caused the political shakeup. Added to that is the fact that currently 72% of Republican Senators deny that humans have a role in climate change - or that it is happening at all. That number is getting higher with the new power shift.

What is shocking is that the American people, besides the power to vote for elected officials, have no control over committees or who is in charge of them. There are no checks and balances over these committee assignments. These type of odd assignments happen all the time. In fact the majority of the science committee members on conservative side have been climate deniers since the 1970s.

The thought comes to mind that those who should be making decisions on science legislation and budget should be Scientists. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out eloquently, there is a lack of scientists in congress.

What we as members of the public can do is voice our concerns and make sure that scientists have a say in our legislature's science work.

In the last few years NASA has discovered exoplanets that could support life, found water on other planets and successfully landed a rover on a comet. These successes are on the back of a limited budget and the agency should be above reproach from a Senator with an ax to grind who is only in a position of power due to a broken system.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

America Loses the Colbert Report

A national treasure, hero and amazing actor is leaving his role as a satirical mirror of the conservative pundit to another stage. Stephen Colbert has been a political jester the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Diogenes the Dog and tonight is his last show. For 9 years this entertainer has acted as an iconic personality and affected American politics far beyond any fictional character in history. Tonight is Stephen's last Colbert Report and America is losing a needed voice in the political conversation.

Over the past 9 years the brilliant host of the Colbert Report has played the part of lampooning conservative punditry. On the national stage this entertainer and joker had played his part so well that he managed to convince House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to first advise colleagues against going on the show, to jokingly campaign against his Super Pack, to later debating him on his own show, and finally appearing in his send off.

Stephen Colbert taught us the Elven language, that it was OK to argue with ourselves, why bears should never be trusted, and tried to bring the funky Cornel West to a different audience. The Colbert Report helped us all better know our political districts"bumped" some serious academic guests, and even introduced me to one of my heroes of the ocean, Dr. Sylvia Earle. One shark scientist even made the claim that "Stephen Colbert Is the Best Source of Science on TV." The article in question asks if the move to CBS will "dumb down" his programming. I share that fear.

Colbert hosted the 2006 Presidential Correspondents Dinner (roasting President W. Bush in the process) has won Grammys, Emmys and even two Peabody Awards. Stephen Colbert pointed out the absurdity in the hubris in our policies and even taught American's about an interesting concept in campaign finance, the Super Pack.This program was not only consistently hilarious, but it was also provocative and educational.

Colbert is an amazing interviewer and that will follow no matter where he goes. His subject matter and his guests will likely be more akin to the fluff of other late night T.V. and far less impactfull on National discourse. In many episodes, Stephen Colbert goes toe-to-toe with the political leaders and heads of state with barely breaking a sweat like Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham. He opened up his image for the larger community through releasing a "green screen" challenge. In one particularly interesting situation Colbert covered the issue of migrant worker's conditions and later testified before Congress in character.

The program, by pointing a finger at the hilarious underbelly of the political system, Stephen Colbert changed it. By making himself part of the political narrative, Colbert also put himself in a corner. He had to consistently play the same character, probably even in public, for 9 years. This level of commitment and obsession will be missed.

I am happy for Stephen in the fact that he will be replacing David Letterman for the prime, late night TV spot. I am sad for America because we will be losing a key voice in the political discourse who brought up the level of our culture, our scientific awareness and our awareness of the absurdity around us.

Shine on you crazy Stephen Colbert, you will leave America a slightly less politically educated place but I am positive the hilarity will ensue.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thoughts on the Plastic Bag Ban

Yesterday California became the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags from grocery stories. Building on similar efforts by municipalities such as San Francisco, San Jose, Washington D.C. and others throughout the country, the State ban is the latest push against these urban tumble weeds.

After July 1st, 2015, grocery stores and other retail locations will no longer be able to give single-use plastic bags and charge 10-cents for paper or compostable bags. This push comes after the relatively ineffective efforts of the California legislature to enforce recycling of these plastic pests. In 2006 the state put forward legislation mandating recycling at stores and, eventually, curb-side locations. The estimate by most agencies was that as few as 3% of California's plastic bags we actually being recycled and the law had little to no oversight. This isn't the first time that California has tried to pass a Plastic Bag Ban, but this is the first successful effort.

The pollution and waste that these products create has been cited as the main reasoning for this legislation. The facts that the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually at an estimated cost to retailers of $4 billion, and that most of these end up either in land-fills, in creeks, or in our oceans should lead most to the conclusion that the ban is a reasonable move.

Plastics are durable, cheap to make, light and cheap to transport. The same reasons that these bags are attractive to consumers are the same reason that they are a problem. Plastics don't biodegrade, they do break down into smaller parts and photo-degrade but they can last at least 500 years. The lightweight plastic bags get picked up by breezes and eventually make their way to all sorts of places they shouldn't be. During these migrations the plastics absorb bacteria and toxins that can create their own bio-systems and, by being eaten by fish and other animals, can enter our food stream.

What is not cited is the cost these bags to the American taxpayer. Those bags that end up as litter or are caught by trees and the landscape have to be cleaned up. Unless there is a massive volunteer force, the cost of the labor usually falls to the municipalities. While these bags are lauded as "Recyclable," the energy and economic costs associated with recycling can be a huge net-loss and most facilities can't process them. Those that are mandated to collect them, but do not have the equipment to convert them into something new usually ship them to other locations, causing a larger carbon footprint for this film.

In many instances, with mixed recycling being sorted at municipal waste facilities, plastic bags would end up in machines that could not process them and cause those machines to break down. The cost of repairing these machines usually falls to the tax payer.

In 2009 I was working for City Council Member Kansen Chu and, at the time, I worked with city staff on a ban on plastic bags. The process for attempting to pass such legislation included a closed door meeting with stakeholders from the opposition. The list included waste management, grocers associations and the American Chemistry Council. The main arguments were that the ban would cause increased costs for grocers, that paper bags were a higher cost and higher impact alternative and that the convenience of these fully recyclable bags outweighed any "negligible environmental impacts."

During those sessions I talked to each of their points and retorted that, the times are changing and that the Chemistry Council should try and change with them through bio-degradable plastics, or be comfortable with the concept of becoming obsolete.

Almost as soon as California's ban passed, a similar response was published by the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a group of American plastic bag manufacturers and related companies, who plan on trying to repeal the legislating through referendum. Trying to tug at libertarian heartstrings with phrases like "greedy special interests and bad government collide in the policymaking process" the release is short, cryptic and filled with unsubstantiated claims.

The release specifically states that the bill "would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets."

In regards to California jobs, there are many plastic film producers in California but, like other industries whose product's usefulness has come to an end, those facilities and their staff either need to adapt to new forms of plastic or find new industries to explore.

I actually called the APBA to follow up on the other claims but the representative was unavailable for comment. As of this posting the American Chemical Council, who has direct ties to the formation of the Bag Alliance, had made no public comment.

The fact of the matter is that the real solution regarding plastic waste for American's and people around the world to change their consumption habits to something SLIGHTLY less convenient than getting a new, single-use plastic bag every time we go shopping. We need to recognize our impact and the waste we produce. Remember each time you get a Starbucks or a soft drink with a plastic straw that those items will probably not be recycled and next time, carrying a reusable container or straw would be, in the long run, a better decision.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The People's Climate

Yesterday a flood of over 400,000 people descended on the streets of New York city. Banging on drums, singing out chants, and displaying signs of all shapes and sizes, the attendees of the aptly named "People's Climate March" lent their voices demanding action on the tragedy of the commons we are currently witnessing in our changing world.

Citing frustrations with the current international inaction on climate change by world leaders, citizens of the world from as far away as France, Rome and Papa New Guinea joined in this single act, creating the largest climate demonstration of its kind. This event seemed like the culmination of disappointing and anger at the ineffectiveness of conferences like Kyoto, CopenhagenCancun and Durban mixed with similar attitudes towards their own governments. The roughly four hundred thousand attendees in New York were joined in 24 hours of demonstrations world-wide calling for real action in response to the pending United Nations Climate announcement beginning tomorrow.

Attendees ranged not only in origin but backgrounds as well. Reports of contingents representing Hurricane Katrina victims, the ocean, climate scientists, and VIPs. Officials and activists like Al Gore, UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, John Kerry and activist/movie star Leonardo Di Caprio were a few of the multitudes who took to the street.

Organizers and leaders at the event called on participants to not only take action, as Bill McKibben and a panel urged, but to also pay attention on the issue of dirty money in politics. The event triggered huge media attention including 24 hour live blogging by the Guardian and the NY Times and the 1,400 groups either supporting or participating ranged from the Sierra Club to AVAAZ have been very pleased by the results.

 “Today, civil society acted at a scale that outdid even our own wildest expectations,” said May Boeve, executive director of, in a statement. “Tomorrow, we expect our political leaders to do the same.”

The main purpose of the event was to resonate with those meeting at the United Nation on Tuesday. world leaders from 125 nations, including Barack Obama, President Obama and world leaders from government, finance and business worlds will be at the U.N. to announce initiatives meant to move the world towards limiting global warming. While some may argue that we are too late for an international bureaucracy like the UN to make any effective change from where we are headed, citing past failures, back and the fact that "some of the most important world leaders" like Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be skipping the proceedings. These two nations missing this summit would be more than just a snub at the UN, it could be disastrous for any agreements made there. 

There are a few external trends that seem to be supporting the People's Climate march. Just today the news broke that Google was dissolving their ties with the lobbying group ALEC, a group that normally represents the dirtiest of oil interests. This was the culmination of an effort by a coalition of groups, spearheaded by eco-billionaire Tom Steyer backed Forecast the Facts.

Adding to this interesting trend are some moves made by the energy industry. First, it is noteworthy that Six international energy companies have agreed to work to reduce emissions of methane, through a UN backed process. The hope is that these initial steps will resonate throughout the industry and eventually bring a change to the culture and practices. Second, the Rockefellers, a family that made most of their fortune through oil, have decided to shift more than $50 billion of their fossil fuel holdings and business to the clean energy sector citing the reason as clean technology and renewable energy are trending to be the future of the energy industry.

The People's Climate march was a sight to behold and made me lament the fact that I was stuck on the west coast for this perfect storm of action. While the effects of the event, and the #FloodWallStreet protest, are still playing out, we cannot sit idly by waiting for the longer term effects to play out. Now is the time to contact your local representatives, citing this historic moment as a turning point.

We, as a collective commons, have to protect our interest through paying attention to the activities of the UN, of our local government and by getting involved with events throughout the world. Those who have held a vested interest in the goings on in the Climate March need to continue the wave through participating (either in-person or virtually) with events like SXSW Eco happening next month or the IUCN World Parks Congress and the BLUE Ocean film festival and conservation event happening in November. We each need to continue the conversation, look to solutions and plan for the future. As others have noticed, we are at a crossroads of opportunity and need to dramatically change our economic model to something that supports us in the long run without decimating our home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

10 Things to Do Instead of Watching Megalodon

The Discovery Channel is again gracing the viewers of its ever popular Shark Week with a Megalodon special. Those familiar with Shark Week will remember this very popular feature on "The Monster that Lives" from last year's programming and the ire it raised with the scientific community. For those not familiar, this program seemed to be Discovery Channel's pièce de résistance of misleading shark programming. The fake "documentary" was so detrimental to the viewing community that an audience poll showed 73% of those who had watched the program believed that this long extinct animal still existed.

The scientific community takes issue with the fact that Shark Week has become a feeding frenzy of sharks portrayed as frightening or dangerous. There have even been outreach that the network has done where their posted shark "facts" are flatly wrong.When an entire movie centered around convincing viewers that a giant shark that had been extinct for more than 2 million years still could pose a threat to the ocean, it was the final straw for many in the conservation and scientific community. Even though actual shark scientists reached out to Discovery, the network didn't seem to get the message.  

This year the network seeks to be doubling down on its Megalodon bet with Megalodon: The New Evidence. No one is quite sure what to expect from the show but the theory is more "eye-witness" accounts of seeing the mythical creature and  more CGI than the last Star Wars film.  The "Submarine" shark has already been shown to be a huge disappointment with false science and advice like "popping a balloon full of milk".

Personally, I am avoiding this show and deciding to get my "Shark Fix" from a few sources that are more scientific and "factual." If you too want to take a bite of something a bit more substantial than the "documentary" programming that the Discovery Channel is putting out there, here are 10 things to satiate your shark appetite.  

1. NOAA Shark Week Portal 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a treasure trove of amazing shark footage, maps, photos and even some very entertaining and educational podcasts. Their focus is on "Sharks in the Sanctuaries" and will even show you the various locations where you can find these amazing creatures.  

2. Read Up on the Best Shark Experts

David Shiffman, aka @WhySharksMatter on Twitter, has put together an amazing, comprehensive list of Shark scientists to follow on Twitter and beyond for Scientific America. The list contains member from all over the Earth researching everything from hammer heads, to cookie-cutter to great whites. If you are tired of the same old sensationalistic, non-science show, this is a list that will give you the real science that you can sink you teeth into.

3. Learn About Shark Protection Through Time 

The Smithsonian, who has mainly been known for their amazing museums and historical conservation also work in the ocean realm. The Ocean Portal has created an amazing tool for viewing the history of shark protection over time. Looking at this adapting infographic will show you the amazing progress that we have made, especially in finning. There is still so far to go but this is an amazing time-lapse of our relationship with sharks.

4. Gills Club's Shark Research Comic

The Gills Club, an organization trying to increase the interest and activities of children and young women in ocean science has put together some epic shark research comic strips that are being released this week for Shark Week. The comics themselves go over various Shark Heroes that are inspirational true stories of real life, groundbreaking shark research. A great read and far more interesting than Megalodon. 

5. Re-Watch "Alien Sharks"

Ignoring the bumper that Discovery Studios put out that looks like something of a blend between Futurama and Monsters Inc, Alien Sharks has been a godsend for scientists. Both last year and this the program has been rather amazing, bringing shark biodiversity together with strange shark behaviors and real science. This year we see the fantastic Paul Clerkin discover some very interesting species, definately one to check out. 

6. Catch Up On a REAL Live Shark Boat Expedition

The Shark Boat, filled with self described "EcoPirates," is cruising around California and Mexico. Included in their daily routine is shark and fish research, scuba diving, interrupting illegal and unregulated fishing and, apparently doing backflips off of their boat. This crew of silly scallywags are educational, entertaining and an entertaining way to learn about one of the biggest threats to sharks, humans. They update pretty much every day from their boat to their facebook, where they post fun pictures and videos to keep you entertained. 

7. Learn Some Real Shark Facts from Southern Fried Science 

Southern Fried Science is a collection of practicing marine scientists that educates on ocean science and issues. They have covered a ton of ocean species but their "Shark Feed" is a treasure trove of articles covering Dogfish to Goblin Sharks to international shark events. This is a perfect place to learn all about, not only sharks, but the whole amazing world of ocean animals.

8. Change the Channel to NatGeo

National Geographic is presenting "Shark Fest" a schedule of shark programming that, for the second year in a row, is going fin-to-fin against Discovery's "Shark Week." Unlike Discovery's programming, according Nat Geo's press release, they promise no mockumentaries: “… scare tactics and mockumentaries are best left to others.”

9. Sign Greenpeace's Ocean Sanctuaries Petition 

As dangerous as sharks are presented in Discovery's Shark Week, they are really at threat from us. There are few, if any, waters that they can swim in safety and Greenpeace has a petition to send to the UN. Though this only takes a few minutes to sign, you can fill up the Megalodon time with sharing the petition with your friends.

10. Get Out There!

The best advice anyone can give you about learning about sharks or the ocean is to leave your house and head to the ocean or an aquarium. You will learn more in a few moments than the entirety of Megalodon, and you actually be able to experience the fishes. Some aquariums, like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, will actually have special tours of their shark science departments, just ask around!

BONUS #11. Watch Mission Blue on Netflix

The great Dr. Sylvia Earle has a documentary made on her life and her life's work in the Ocean. This visually stunning, real documentary about a woman who has spent more time underwater than you can possibly imagine is live today at noon on Netflix. Come learn about the former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and her zeal for ocean exploration.

The film was made in partnership with Netflix as a part of their budding content development plan. Moving away from dramas like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards and into the documentary market. Mission Blue's end message is one of hope and action.

The cast includes stars of science, stage and screen and an encounter with some gorgeous whale sharks and plenty of kelp.

Monday, June 9, 2014

World Oceans Day and the Pale Blue Dot

Last night's Cosmos was the final episode. It was a fantastic summary of the entirety of the season. Reinforcing the lessons and the influential characters we met and admired over the 13 episodes. In this one, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Seth McFarlan's team assembled an awesome homage to Carl Sagan - the original Captain of the spaceship of the imagination.

Carl Sagan's way of describing life and the world takes you from the tiniest portions of existence to a perspective of the universe where "you" barely exists. The calm and fluid tone of his voice, make you somehow OK with it and recognize the beauty in the symmetry.

The segment chosen is especially poignant because of the date that this final episode landed on. This description of Earth as a "blue dot" or a "blue marble" has been a sort of clarion call of the Ocean community. It reminds us that the Ocean makes up the majority of our Earth and that from space, our planet is blue. Without the blue, there is no green. There is even a practice, started by Wallace J Nichols, of giving a blue glass marble to ocean heroes.

Yesterday, June 8th, was World Oceans Day.

World Oceans Day is an international day of recognition for our Oceans, its beauty and what they mean to us. The day is usually full of special events to support "clean energy choices, trash-free coasts and beaches, sustainable seafood, and more."
This year's highlights included a "Selfie for the Sea" campaign, a flood of tweets and a special hangout between Vampire Diaries actor Ian Somerhalder and Fabien Cousteau broadcasting from Mission Aquarius.

It is fitting, even if unintentional, that the end of such a popular show as Cosmos mirrored the theme of this year's World Oceans Day; "Together we have the power to protect the ocean."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boiling Over the Arctic

In the next few months, all eyes are going to be on the growing conflict that is currently simmering in the cold arctic circle. As the ice melts, the once remote and un-navigable area is opening to all sorts of activity. This will have serious repercussions for the local environment and the world. Everything from ships using the new trade routes to militarizing the area to the mining and the extraction of newly discovered minerals and oil will have potentially catastrophic effects.

A spill or other environmental disaster is going to happen in the Arctic, it is only a matter of time. While there are plenty of lists out there from organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, the Ocean ConservancyGreenpeace and even Mother Jones discussing why an arctic spill would be a horrible tragedy that would be impossible to clean, the real kicker is that no country in the Arctic Council is prepared to handle such an event (See the recent report highlighting the U.S.'s and the international oil industries inadequacies).

The Arctic Council

To understand the issues, we need to familiarize ourselves with the political body set in charge of the Arctic. The territory that makes up the Arctic Circle is divided up among 6 countries; the U.S., Canada, Iceland, Norway, Greenland (Denmark), and Russia. Each country is allowed to claim 200 miles of the ocean off of their perspective coasts. These six countries make up an odd diplomatic assembly known as the Arctic Council whose responsibility it is "to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic."

Diplomacy surrounding this northern jewel housing a possible 20-30% of the world's untapped energy resources has already begun to heat up as countries scramble to stake their claims and begin the extraction process. This region, and the stakeholders involved are becoming ever more important yet, the United States currently does not have a permanent ambassador to the Arctic Council.

While the Council has put together an Arctic Search and Rescue plan that cuts through the territorial claims and disputes in the Arctic, there is currently no plan in the advent of an environmental catastrophe (with this exception of lose objectives). No one has really answered the question, "What happens when oil spills in the Arctic?"

The Swimming Bear

Russia in particular is taking a hugely aggressive stance and has topped off at $63 Billion worth of investment in arctic resource extraction so far. As you can see from the fantastic map created by the NY Times above, there are pockets of oil wells scattering over only a portion of the area that is yet to be explored. This is only the start.

To hear it from Vladmir Putin, "this, in essence, is the beginning of great and large-scale extraction of minerals and oil by our country, [Russia] in the Arctic."

This "large-scale extraction" is occurring while Russia increases their Naval and Military presence in the area. The United States is also concentrating on the pricey process of militarizing the Arctic Ocean. This is all heading towards another Russian-NATO standoff.
“The United States is anxious to militarize the Arctic Ocean. It has to do it via its relations with Canada and it is also seeking to do it via NATO, through the participation of Norway and Denmark in NATO. And now it is calling upon Sweden and Finland to essentially join NATO with a view to establishing a NATO agenda in the Arctic,” Michel Chossudovsky, from the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal.
Bringing the decades old conflict between western powers and Russian influence into the arctic could be explosive. With the pressures that Russia has exerted on Europe through oil supply threats during the ongoing Ukrainian situation, the question starts to become, how much control does Russia have over global oil supplies and what is the impact of the arctic reserves?

Spills and Companies

Remember that Russia has had massive oil spill problems in its own cold-climate Siberia and the country has already started working with companies like Exxon Mobil in the Arctic. Other international oil companies have begun to partner up and have already tried to make the rules and standards surrounding oil extraction more lax in Canada. Shell, who has massive spill issues most recently in Texas, has plans in the works for drilling around Alaska. BP, who some may remember from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy that is still affecting the Gulf of Mexico and who just recently sprayed an oil mist over 27 acres of Alaskan tundra, has won drilling options off the pristine and beautiful Greenland coast.

Again, an arctic oil spill is only a matter of time.

The Hope 

Back in August, 30 Greenpeace protesters boarded the Russian Prirazlomnaya arctic oil platform to try and bring world attention to the looming threat of an arctic environmental disaster. The protesters whose origins spanned the globe and whose members included the famous Russian photographer Denis Sinyakov, were arrested by the Russian military on the charge of piracy and detained for months.

It took an international tribunal and 11 Nobel peace laureates writing to Putin, calling on him to drop the "excessive" charges of piracy, to have these protesters released on bail.

When Russia started exporting Arctic oil from the Prirazlomnaya platform last week, Greenpeace was there again. This time it was the Dutch who arrested the protesters, only to be released a few hours after being towed to Rotterdam with no charges.
Greenpeace is changing the maritime political landscape with their activities and it is amazing to watch. The trouble is that since they are fighting against the interests of major nations and international corporations, they can only do so much.

A simple solution to the pending geo-political and environmental disaster is to stop our oil addiction. It will be a slow process but the more we divest from oil and revert that money towards alternative energies, the less this tense situation, and powder kegs like those in the middle eastern countries, become relevant.

We, as a species, need to come together and push for energy that won't destroy our future. I call on anyone who reads this to petition the Arctic Council and their own leadership for sanity. The best possible solution would be to declare the polar regions Marine Protected Areas with used designated solely for science.