photo by Esthr (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

The long dark and gooey shadow of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is shining a gruesome light on offshore drilling, its toll on the environment and the true cost of oil.

Yet the Gulf spill is also getting all the attention, while other environmental issues or injustices suffer from neglect or overshadowing. Bhopal activists have juxtaposed the attention being given to the spill against their unfortunate plight, for instance. Ironically, new remote – and potentially catastrophic – frontiers are being explored for oil at this very moment, yet this is receiving little attention from the mainstream media.

Case in point: British oil exploration and extraction firm, Cairn Energy, is starting to drill off the coast of Greenland. A piece in the Ecologist points this out this fact, while Deepwater Horizon continues to hog the spotlight.

From an article in the Edmonton Journal:

Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy is one of 10 companies that have bought up leases in the region. The speed with which the company got its approvals has been cause for concern for both the Inuit in Canada and for conservationists.

In light of BP’s blowout in the Gulf, how prepared are Cairn if something similar should happen in the Arctic? Canada, who also granted permission to drill in the region, permits oil drilling in ‘marine protected’ areas, according to the WWF. So do Greenland and Norway. What makes these areas ‘protected’ if companies are allowed to do something which is already proven to be potentially hazardous to the environment?

If cleanup is this hard in the Gulf, imagine the difficulties in tackling a major spill spreading under Arctic ice.

Graham Land

Additional resources:

Scotsman – Greenland gives go-ahead for Cairn Energy to begin exploration