The Willow Project will have detrimental effects

On March 13, ConocoPhillips, the largest oil drilling company in Alaska, was approved by the Biden administration to continue with their proposed Willow Project. The Willow Project is an on-going endeavor to drill oil in Alaska’s North Slope, a part of the National Petroleum Reserve.

There are advantages to this project, such as the boost in Alaska’s economy as well as benefiting America’s energy security, however the environmental repercussions would eclipse these benefits entirely including the release of a significant amount of greenhouse gasses, which would push climate change into being completely irreversible. This project is reckless considering how little we have succeeded with reversing climate change. There are positives, yes, but the positives do not come close to outweighing the negatives. Our world does lie within a good enough state to be ignoring these imminent threats to our atmosphere, and we cannot allow the ignorance of those in power who can change the course of these substantial threats to continue.

Climate change has been on the rise for decades, but in the last twenty years or so, the Third Industrial revolution [digital electronics that make factories easier to operate] has increased the effects. We have made slight improvements to some of the common contributors, such as the attempt to shift entirely to electric cars [at least in California], but each country is concerning themselves with different details of the environment, making it difficult to make a significant impact altogether.

The invasive drilling would not only disrupt the environment and the wildlife around the site, it would produce around 280 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, which will have a drastic impact on the ongoing climate crisis. America, as a country, is already a significant contributor to climate change, and even if we continue with our current efforts to slow the effects, this project will essentially counteract any actions we have already taken, which in itself is not enough. We have the ability to at least consider what this will do to our environment, but we are too busy concerning ourselves with the economy and capitalism as a whole, which will eventually lead to our downfall, assuming it has not already.

The 180,000 barrels of oil that this project would produce daily would be accompanied by 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon yearly. This massive quantity of carbon is equivalent to the emissions of 2 million gas powered cars added to the roads. Every single year. A surge in online activism has produced over 3 million petition signatures and more than a million letters sent to the White House in protest. Despite these protests, the government has continued to support the Willow Project.

The Biden administration’s lack of intervention is believed to stem from the approval that the Trump administration granted the project in 2020, the approval tying the administration’s hands from taking any further action against the project. The Biden administration predicted that legally, the courts would be unlikely to rule for the reduction or absolution of the project. The government is concerned about possible legal action on ConocoPhillips’ end and the threat of steep fines. Meanwhile, others are concerned about the survival of the planet and how significant these effects will be.

We are not invincible. The Earth is affected by the decisions we make. Yes, the economy is important, and of course there are unavoidable actions that we must take to prevent an economical collapse, but the planet needs to be our top priority. There will be no such thing as a healthy economy on a dead globe. We do not have the privilege of “worrying about the effects in the future” if we currently cannot ensure a future. The next generation is left to deal with the mess, but at one point or another, the effects are irreversible. If the goal is to improve the economy, the government must actively work on cultivating green corporations and creating jobs that focus on repair– not those that will lead to further destruction. We must use our power as a nation to solve the issue, rather than recklessly fueling it.