Activists Scale ExxonMobil Rig on 25th Anniversary of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Today, on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Greenpeace climbers scaled an ExxonMobil rig destined to drill in the Russian Arctic. The activists are calling for a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic and for renewed efforts to fight climate change.
"We are here today, on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster, to protest against ExxonMobil's plans of drilling in the Arctic,” said Ethan Gilbert, a U.S. activist who lived in Alaska when the disaster happened in 1989. “I was a young child living in Alaska when the Exxon Valdez disaster happened and the effects there are still being felt on the people and the environment even today. In the Arctic the effects would be even worse. We are here on behalf of over 5 million people who have joined the movement to protect the Arctic from oil drilling.”
Fourteen activists from seven different countries took part in the protest in Norway, where five of them scaled the West Alpha oilrig and unfurled a banner saying: “No Exxon Valdez in Russian Arctic.”
ExxonMobil plans to drill in the most extreme and remote area of the Arctic this year,” said Erlend Tellnes, Arctic campaigner with Greenpeace Nordic. “This is madness—if something goes wrong, they will be all alone in the far north, with rescue equipment located thousands of kilometers away. We need to stop all oil companies before they cause the inevitable spill in the Arctic, where the harsh conditions would make it impossible to clean up. Look at Exxon Valdez. It is still affecting Alaskan nature 25 years after the accident."
ExxonMobil is the world's largest oil company and has a multi-billion dollar joint venture with Russia’s Rosneft to explore for oil in the Kara Sea, a project that will start this summer. The drilling block where Exxon will operate overlaps with the legally protected Russian Arctic National Park, an area renowned for its magnificent wildlife. The area is home to polar bears and bowhead whales and includes walrus rookeries and one of the largest bird colonies in the northern hemisphere. According to Russian law it is illegal to drill for oil in the area.
“We can't afford to risk an Exxon Valdez disaster in the Arctic, which would be impossible to clean up," said Tellnes. “It is time to go beyond oil. We know that we have to keep these fossil fuels in the ground if we want to prevent further climate changes.”
The Arctic is one of the most extreme and hostile environments to drill for oil on the planet. The ExxonMobil drill site is covered by thick sea ice for 270-300 days of the year, whilst temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celsious are not uncommon. The Kara Sea is often battered by fierce storms and during the long northern winter is plunged into months of almost total darkness.
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With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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