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South Wirral Geography - Alaska Case-study
Transcript of South Wirral Geography - Alaska Case-study
(from BBC 'Frozen Planet') Tourism Alaskan Cruises are extremely popular http://www.travelalaska.com/ 1.6 million summer visitors - 2010 Good? Bad?
WHAT IS ANWR AND WHERE IS THE COASTAL PLAIN?
The 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) lies in the northeast corner of Alaska. The entire refuge lies north of the Arctic Circle and 1,300 miles south of the North Pole.
The Coastal Plain area, comprising 1.5 million acres on the northern edge of ANWR, is bordered on the north by the Beaufort Sea, on the east by the U.S. Canadian border, and on the west by the Canning River. The Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (both Alaska Native corporations) own 94,000 acres in the Coastal Plain surrounding the village of Kaktovik. At its widest points, the Coastal Plain is about 100 miles across and about 30 miles deep and covers an area slightly larger than the state of Delaware. Along the coastal area, the plain is an almost featureless expanse, barren and dotted with thousands of unconnected small ponds; the area to the south becomes gently rolling, treeless hills which merge into foothills and then into the northern edges of the Brooks Range.
There is a Native population of about 220 residents at Kaktovik, a village on Native owned lands at Barter Island, adjacent to the Coastal Plain and within the boundaries of ANWR.
HOW MUCH OIL & GAS IS IN ANWR'S COASTAL PLAIN?
High potential. The high potential for significant discoveries of oil and gas in ANWR has long been recognized. Early explorers of the region at the turn of the century, found oil seeps and oil-stained sands. However, since ANWR was established in 1960, exploration in the region has been restricted to surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (in 1983-84 and 1984-85). No exploratory drilling has been accomplished in the area except for one well commenced in the winter of 1984-85 on Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation lands southeast of Kaktovik on the Coastal Plain.
Location to big finds. Although little oil and gas exploration has taken place in ANWR, the Coastal Plain is believed to have economically recoverable oil resources. The Coastal Plain lies between two known major discovery areas. About 65 miles to the west of the Coastal Plain, the Prudhoe Bay, Lisburne, Endicott, Milne Point, and Kuparuk oil fields are currently in production. Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil a day are produced from these fields, representing 25% of our domestic production. To the east of the Coastal Plain, major discoveries have been made in Canada, near the Mackenzie River Delta and in the Beaufort Sea.
U.S. Geological Survey - 1980. In 1980, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the Coastal Plain could contain up to 17 billion barrels of oil and 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
U.S. Department of Interior - 1987. After several years of surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (in 1983-84 and 1984-85), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), in its April, 1987 report on the oil and gas potential of the Coastal Plain, estimated that there are billions of barrels of oil to be discovered in the area. DOI estimates that "in-place resources" range from 4.8 billion to 29.4 billion barrels of oil. Recoverable oil estimates ranges from 600 million barrels at the low end to 9.2 billion barrels at the high end. They also reported identifying 26 separate oil and gas prospects in the Coastal Plain that could each contain "super giant" fields (500 million barrels or more).
U.S. Geological Survey - 1998. The most recent petroleum assessment prepared by the USGS in 1998 (OFR 98-34), increased the estimate for technically recoverable mean crude oil resources. (See Oil in the ANWR? It's Time to Find Out!)
Only drilling will tell. The geologic indicators are very favorable for the presence of significant oil and gas resources in ANWR, but the limited data means that there is a high level of uncertainty about how much oil and gas may be present. Consequently, current estimates represent the best scientific guesses. However, most geologists agree that the potential is on the order of billions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of recoverable gas and that these resources may rival or exceed the initial reserves at Prudhoe Bay. The validity of these estimates can be proved only by drilling exploratory wells. Authorization for exploration must be given by Congress and the President.
In 1996 the North Slope oil fields produced about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, or approximately 25 percent of the U.S. domestic production. However, Prudhoe Bay, which accounts for over half of North Slope production, began its decline in 1988, and no new fields have yet been discovered with the potential to compensate for that decline. Over 78% percent of Alaskans support exploration and production on the Coastal Plain of ANWR. Polling conducted in December 2009 by the Dittman Research Corporation shows that a vast majority of Alaskans support opening ANWR to oil and gas exploration.
Dittman’s poll questioning Alaskans on various topics of interest has been conducted regularly over the years and includes the basic question,
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, usually referred to as ANWR, is located on the northern edge of Alaska between Prudhoe Bay and the Canadian border. What is your opinion, do you feel oil and gas exploration should or should not be allowed in that area?”
In December 2009 the response was 78% in favor of exploration and 21% opposed. The results over the past 10 years indicate a very steady response with only minor fluctuation. Graph showing approval rating for development of the coastal plain If Alaska didn't already exist you have the feeling the cruise business might have asked God to invent it. At some time in the recent past, you can imagine cruise operators thinking that what they really needed to do was come up with a cracking seven-night itinerary that offers a delightful summer alternative to their usual Caribbean run.
Sitting with their heads buried in atlases, they were desperate for a solution: 'We want something with amazing scenery, stunning wildlife and a colourful history.'
Then some unheralded genius poked his thumb into the top left-hard corner of the map and pulled out a plum – Alaska.
The 49th state of the United States (it was admitted into the Union on January 3, 1959) is the largest state in the US (twice the size of Texas, the second biggest). It is larger than all but 19 sovereign countries and has a longer coastline than all the other American states combined.
Alaska, you can't help feeling, must be one of the great bargains of history. In 1867, when it was bought from the Russian Empire, it cost the US government $7.2 million (£4.46 million) – about two cents per acre. The state may have other claims to fame: this is the place that offered the world Sarah Palin and gave its name to a dessert involving ice cream cooked inside a meringue.
But for most people – certainly most British holidaymakers – Alaska has become synonymous with cruising. Actually, it has transcended the mere status of 'cruise destination', and acquired a more substantial honorific – it is on the senior citizens' top ten list of Things To Do Before You Die (given the average age of Alaska cruise fans, this might be more exactly put as Things To Do Just Before You Die). About a million cruise passengers visit Alaska every year, generating more than $1 billion in revenue for the state. Oil may play a substantial part in its economic life but, for most places, tourism is undoubtedly the key factor.
The state capital Juneau, for example, which – remarkably – has no road links with the rest of Alaska, is almost wholly dependent on tourism, especially the cruise business.
So what you have with Alaska is the perfect circle of commerce: people desperate to visit, and a place just as desperate for them to be there. Everybody gains. And unlike most tourism – which brings in its wake problems of pollution and unsightly development – cruising leaves the lightest of 'footprints' on the environment.
Ships visiting the environmentally sensitive national park areas, for example, are strictly controlled by park rangers to minimise the impact on the flora and fauna. The commercial development that cruising has brought sometimes tends towards the crass (tiny towns such as Skagway are almost entirely given over to the sale of bling jewellery). But you don't have to buy, you don't even have to shop – in Skagway there are dozens of more interesting things to do than look at diamonds, or tanzanite (whatever that is).
What brings people to Alaska is not the shops but the scenery, the wildlife and the colourful history (largely involving bad behaviour by prospectors during the famous gold rush in the early 1900s).
Alaska does all of these so perfectly that half the time you wonder whether you're on a giant Disney ride. All it lacks are animatronic bears who pop out of the undergrowth on cue and sing and dance their way through 'Look for the, bare necessities'.
You sit on your cabin balcony, for example, in Glacier Bay and the captain thoughtfully swings the ship around so that people on both sides of the vessel get a grandstand view of the amazing wall of ice. Minutes later, humpback whales pop out of the ocean to flap their flukes and spout their spume. Still reeling from the extraordinary glacier, you barely have the strength to mutter: 'Wow.' I've given up trying to fathom why people think they won't like cruising.
The things they seemingly object to – too much organisation and the rigid itinerary – are what make it so attractive. If you want to enjoy the pleasures of Alaska, for example, the only way you're going to reach them (unless you have a fondness for Arctic kayaking) is on a cruise ship. And getting a couple of thousand passengers in and out of glacial fjords and various remote ports of call requires planning on an extraordinary scale.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2061363/Cruise-holidays-Take-floe-boat-Alaska.html#ixzz1fmKX5PZe
Article about Tourism in UK Paper Is tourism bad? Dave Becky Edward Take a look AT this To drill or not to drill? An effective National Park? Is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge effective? Simple map of Alaska The pristine wilderness environment Sec. 2. (a) In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness. For this purpose there is hereby established a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as "wilderness areas", and these shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character, and for the gathering and dissemination of information regarding their use and enjoyment as wilderness; and no Federal lands shall be designated as "wilderness areas" except as provided for in this Act or by a subsequent Act.
What U.S.A congress thinks a Wilderness is... This disaster occured in the sea just off south Alaska. 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean killing various organisms and species also killing endangered species such as whales.
This was a result of a failure to navigate accurately through the Blight reef which grounded the ship. The damage was unrepairable which resulted in the incredible amount of oil spilled. The spill resulted in the contamination of 1,990 kilometers of shoreline. Killing 2,000 sea otters, 302 harbor seals and about 250,000 seabirds died in the days following the spill. Human communities nearby also suffered, especially the native peoples who subsist on fish, plants, and wildlife. Ten years after the spill these communities have not yet fully returned to normal. The spill also cancelled the 1989 fishing season, hurting the commercial fisheries industry in the area, and commercial fishing was again cancelled from 1993 through to 1996. The aftereffects of the spill did, however, create new job opportunities for those involved in the cleanup operations, which in turn have led to the emergence of a new economic class labeled the "spillionaires."
Exxon spent more than $2 billion in cleanup efforts in the four years following the spill.
Exxon agreed to pay $900 million over a period of ten years as a civil settlement—$25 million for committing an environmental crime, and $100 million for criminal restitution. In 1994 a separate class action suit brought against Exxon by over 40,000 commercial fishermen and other interested parties led to a jury award of $5 billion in punitive damages. By 2001 the case was still under appeal.
Most people don't really understand where the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is located and the relatively tiny amount of space within ANWR, (the Coastal Plain), that's been set aside for potential oil and gas development The scientific community, oil industry and government geologists all generally believe that the oil and gas resource potential for ANWR to be very high. They all agree that ANWR ranks as a major petroleum province that could contribute significantly to the nation's energy supplies in the early 21st century when production from other areas, including Prudhoe Bay, has significantly declined.
The geologic indicators are very favorable for the presence of significant oil and gas resources in ANWR, but the limited data means that there is a high level of uncertainty about how much oil and gas may be present. However, most geologists agree that the potential is on the order of billions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of recoverable gas and that these resources may rival the initial reserves at Prudhoe Bay. The Department of Interior (DOI) and USGS estimates of recoverable oil ranges from 590 million barrels at the low end to 9.2 billion barrels at the high end. The validity of these estimates can only be proved by drilling exploratory wells.
bad...? U.S. oil companies already have permission to drill in millions of unexplored acres, but there is a push now to drill in one area where they don't have permission: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). A terrible idea, drilling in ANWR would:
•Not produce much oil.
•Not lower gas prices.
•Harm the environment.
A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assessment says there is "considerable uncertainty regarding both the size and quality of the oil resources that exist in ANWR." Even if 7.7 billion barrels a day could be recovered (as estimated in one government study), "the current upper limit to ANWR oil production is the transportation capacity of TAPS" (Trans Alaska Pipeline System), or 2.136 million barrels per day. To put this in context, the U.S. burns 21 million barrels per day.
Plus, DOE says that the maximum potential capacity – accessing all the oil that's available to be pumped – would not be realized until 2026.
ANWR oil would be too little too late. Our planning for 2026 should not be centered around oil, but rather on new energy technologies. As Thomas Friedman said in a recent interview, we should be shouting "Invent, invent, invent!" not "Drill, drill, drill!"
It would ruin a national treasure that is pristine
A spill of any size could have epic negative consequences on the environment
Massive infrastructure would have to be built leaving a very large footprint
The indigenous people, Inupiat Eskimo and the Gwich’in Athabascan Indian, do not fully support the project
Caribou, Polar Bears, freshwater fish, and migrating birds that rely on the delicate balance of the preserve will be displaced
The project will take at least 7 years for any oil to come to marketThe new supply would only displace roughly 2% of our annual oil and gas needs
The use of fossil fuels in the future is already in doubt. That is, we might be trying to find supply for future demand that is in question
Local economy will benefit from increased activity from the tourists who travel to the region e.g. Souvenir shops, accomodation (hotels), restaurants, tour guides, taxi drivers.
Raises employment opportunities for local people and prevents population from leaving to find work elsewhere.
Local infrastructual improvements (paid for by increased taxation from tourist businesses), need to do improvements to ensure people will visit the region
Major plane companies and travel organistaions (Royal Carribean Cruises, American Airlines) all benefit. Wildlife more likely to be affected by pollution, and lack of wilderness (the humans are here) - there may be a need to kill Polar bears to prevent attacks on humans.
Need to provide resources for the tourists (e.g. food and water) - necessary to ship these in from other areas.
Pollution created by transport of people into the area
Over-reliance on tourist industry from local economy and people
Seasonal employment in the summer, lack of tourists in the winter creates issues with jobs - people may leave in the winter to find work elsewhere?
Disposal of waste created by tourists is problematic The ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) is located in the furthest northeast corner of Alaska. Originally formed on December 6th 1960 covering an area of 8.9 million acres was then extended between 1980 - 1983 to cover an area of 19.6 million acres.
Alaska's species diversity is already low due to the climate and physical conditions. It lies within the Arctic tundra which has a polar climate therefore limiting the amount of species able to survive here. Most species are endemic and vulnerable to any human activity or significant climate change. The refuge covers various terain which is important for the conservation of any ecosystems in different areas. It runs from the mountains in the Brooks range to the Arctic ocean. The proteced area is home to a herd of over 120 000 caribou, Polar bears which travel here in winter to give birth, various marine mammals such as the bowehead whale, dolphins, porpoise, sea otters, sea lions and seals, over 135 species of birds including snowy owls, snow geese and ducks, it is also home to wolves, grizzly bears, musk oxen and many more. Most of this area is designated as a Wilderness (an unsetteled, uncultivated region left in its natural condition) but the Coastal Plain is not protected in this way and could be opened for oil explortaion and drilling. If this region is affected, it will be devestating for the conservation of the species in the protected areas. This costal area is dependent on the species diversity in Alaska as it is the main nesting and breeding ground for most of the animals found in the ANWR.
In conclusion, the ANWR is a very effective scheme as it provides a home for many species that would easily be extinct if they were exposed to human activity. It offers a completely natural wilderness that allows species to thrive and develop which will become a rare feature of any area in years to come as industrialisation and human activity will start to take over and deplete species diversity.
(Ed) The question of whether to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been an ongoing political controversy in the United States since 1977. The issue has been used by both Democrats and Republicans as a political device, especially through contentious election cycles, and has been the subject of much debate in the National media.ANWR comprises 19,000,000 acres (77,000 km2) of the north Alaskan coast. The land is situated between the Beaufort Sea to the north, Brooks Range to the south, and Prudhoe Bay to the west. It is the largest protected wilderness in the United States and was created by Congress under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Section 1002 of that act deferred a decision on the management of oil and gas exploration and development of 1,500,000 acres (6.1×109 m2) in the coastal plain, known as the "1002 area”. The controversy surrounds drilling for oil in this subsection of ANWR. Supporting views
Former President George W. Bush and his administration supported drilling in the Arctic Refuge, contending that it could "keep [America]'s economy growing by creating jobs and ensuring that businesses can expand and it will make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy," and that "scientists have developed innovative techniques to reach ANWR's oil with virtually no impact on the land or local wildlife”.The United States Department of Energy estimates that ANWR oil production between 2018 and 2030 would reduce the cumulative net expenditures on imported crude oil and liquid fuels by an estimated $135 to $327 billion (2006 dollars), reducing the foreign trade deficit. A total of 2,040 Primary Company employees reside in Anchorage, accounting for $345 million in annual payroll.
A slightly larger number (2,143) of Oil and Gas Support Services company employees reside in Anchorage, with annual payroll of $254 million.
An additional 5,800 jobs in Anchorage are also directly connected to Primary Company spending in Alaska, including jobs with professional services firms, transportation providers, and a variety of other companies, generating approximately $413 million in annual payroll.