Environment

New Proposal to Protect Alaskan Wilderness

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Craig Welch

President Obama recently made one of the boldest conservation proposals by a president in the last 30 years. The location of this proposal was Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). A key factor in the debate is that the area also contains oil reserves that are equal to the U.S.’s largest oil field, Prudhoe Bay. The Inuit tribes who hold mineral rights in the area see the debate as largely sidestepping the main issue since they see any conservation efforts for the refuge as coming at the expense of off-shore drilling in the area, which is home to the bowhead whale.

According to the article, central in the discussion is whether the land is special enough to off-set growing energy needs. Whatever the answer to that question may be, the mere phrasing of it sheds considerable light on how the issue is being viewed by most politicians, namely that energy demands are a given and will necessarily need to increase in due course while wildlife areas must prove uniqueness and value in order to offset these demands. Readers of the article should consider to what extent should these factors play a role in making this decision and what other factors should be considered that have not been given weight so far.

How does Christian stewardship factor into this discussion and what other aspects of the Christian life should also be considered in making this decision?

To what extent should the opinion of native people who own mineral rights to the land be factored into the government's final decision?

Source: National Geographic

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