Need a reason to fight oil drilling near Alaska? We've got 5.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

Big oil is on a big mission in the Arctic.

In July 2015, the Obama administration cleared the way for Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling in the pristine Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast. Not. Good.

Although officials claim operations "must be held to the highest safety, environmental protection, and emergency response standards," not everyone's buying it. And for good reason.


Gorgeous, huh? This is Kotzebue Sound, which is part of the Chukchi Sea. Photo by Education Specialist/Flickr.

There are plenty of reasons why this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.

"Simply put, the Arctic may have oil, but the risks of drilling in the Arctic are too great," Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon wrote on July 30.

And in the Natural Resource Defense Council's magazine onEarth, Clara Chaisson laid out five reasons exactly why those risks outweigh any positives:

1. Oil spills: They're awful. There's a 75% chance a large one will happen with this new Shell project. A 75% chance.

2. The Arctic: a hellish place to clean up oil. Unpredictable, icy conditions and a lack of infrastructure up there means a spill would be difficult to take care of quickly.

3. Shell's track record in the Arctic: abysmal. From putting workers in unsafe conditions to contributing to illegal levels of pollution, Shell has whatever the exact opposite of a clean record is when it comes to operating in the Arctic.

4. The Chukchi Sea: filled with wildlife. Yeah, it's cold, but the region is home to many species that could be negatively impacted — including polar bears, who use the area as birthing grounds.

5. Climate change: This won't help fight it. This project will only further create an infrastructure that promotes carbon pollution for decades to come.

Here's where you come in. Because, believe it or not, you have something an oil company doesn't: a vote.

In a video produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), actor Robert Redford spelled out why we still have leverage over a corporation like Shell.

GIFs via NRDC.


You don't have to wait until election season. You can throw your support behind NRDC's efforts to keep the Chukchi Sea oil-free by signing this petition:

"Tell President Obama to act now to safeguard our natural heritage, our climate and our children's future by stopping Big Oil's invasion of the Arctic and put us on the path toward a clean energy future."

And then watch Robert Redford break down how we can stand up to big oil:

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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