Nature Notes: Our oil habit

Nature Notes: Our oil habit

This week we saw the Republican Senate pass legislation to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. One might reasonably ask the question: What is it about a wildlife refuge that they don't understand?

But it is clearly not about oil, nor is it about a spat of short-term union jobs. In many ways, the whole issue is not even solely about wildlife. But while we may not be able to turn the political tides until next year, we must face the reality that we have to change the way we consume energy.

Wild and beautiful habitat surrounds us. We are cocooned in a moderate climate, full of Mother Nature's most delicate and handsome creatures. Lucky us. But the wild habitat is disappearing fast, and the oil boom is beginning to wilt. We must go further out and destroy more land to keep the energy habit supplied.

We can change. We can adapt new ways to go about our lives, using less gasoline and less electricity. It doesn't take a great deal of conservation by each one of us, to make a huge difference collectively. One less trip to the grocery store a week, for instance. A simple act, yet if embraced by all, would more than make up for the oil being sought in the Arctic Refuge.

We know we can do this, we just need to understand that the world will absolutely run out of affordable oil soon. The sooner we began to wean ourselves away from this habit, the better it will be for us all, including those wild creatures in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge who cannot speak in their own defense.

If we could ask the caribou, the spectacular polar bears, the seals, seabirds, the uncountable numbers of geese and the delicate swans, yes, if we could ask them about the land they so desperately need, we would hear a powerful story in song, and we would see wild, wonderful sights to change our unfeeling hearts.

Before you rip down the beach again, or go crabbing because it's Saturday, let's give some thought to the bigger picture. If we just back off a little on our gas consumption, we can help those in wild, out of the way places, we may never see.

Craig Sparks is director of NAWA, a filmmaker, freelance writer and wildlife rehabilitator.

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