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Most eighteen year olds aren’t willing to jump into politics. In fact, most of us know little more than the name of Canada’s Prime Minister and probably the name of the Queen of England. But about a year ago, I started wondering if being in politics might be able to change the world more than I had given it credit for.
Preparation to physically get to the arctic
I joined the arctic experience and it is playing like a movie screen at the forefront of my brain from time to time. Whether it was the conversations I had, the people I met, or the places I saw, I felt I needed to do something with what I was given. I could use the power of politics, specifically the policy paper, to help bring the poles message to the world. I was thinking.. Climate Change: Efficiency Makes all the Difference. What shall I need in order to start making a change. A will to do it, obviously. But what else should I pack to be most effective? Responding to extreme conditions requires relying above all on specific procedures to guarantee safety, efficiency and efficacy. First of all we need PPE – personal protection equipment, such as not having exposed skin to avoid skin burns from the cold, in addition to having special survival kits in vehicles (lights, water, blankets…), special clothing and work boots (recommended footwear, overalls, coats, gloves, snow goggles) and chemical hand-warmer packets.
Writing the papers
The first thing my friends warned me about was the power of the citation. “Whatever you say, you have to back up. We need to make sure we’re credible.”
Then of course, they gave me the not-so-secret secret to writing something credible: “Read climate assessment reports. Read this. Look into that. Look for something we haven’t found. Look at these credible Recommendation papers. Really, just look everywhere.”
It was about 3 hours after working on the paper for the second night in a row that the true challenge of all the work started to sink in. Late at night with the buzzing of my computer screen giving me a headache, whilst trying to wade through carefully constructed politically correct language, I was beginning to struggle find the most compelling content. Then of course, I still had to make all the little pieces fit together. I kept thinking that the leaders that end up reading this should never have the chance to say, “Looks like a student wrote this, clearly.”
But just before I slammed my laptop shut in sheer frustration, I opened another report, and feasted my eyes on not words, but a centerpiece picture. Like a flashback, I looked at the picture of a toppling ice berg fronting a report, and I was no longer at my computer. I was in a zodiac, reaching out to touch the glistening stuff as it creaked and groaned over the soft growling of the motor. The sound of our friend’s throat singing filled my mind, and the laughter from a long forgotten joke lingered in my ears. I shook my head, cleared my mind, and instead of throwing in the towel, returned silently to my work.
And after getting over the initial hump of the citation hunt, I started to realize how much I personally liked writing the paper. I like to think that when my peers read this they won’t be able to guess that a student wrote this.
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.