President Obama, Are You a Climate Champion or a Climate Hypocrite?
President Obama just gave away the American Arctic Ocean to one of the most irresponsible oil companies on Earth, and he will bear responsibility for the consequences. The decision to green light every step of Shell’s pathway to its oil and gas lease in the Chukchi Sea was a critical test of President Obama’s climate legacy, and he failed.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 6, 2015
Drilling for Arctic oil and gas is unnecessary and should not even be up for consideration according to the latest climate science. Yet over the past five months, the federal government has been busy removing any and all administrative hurdles in Shell’s way. After affirming the original lease sale and approving every permit needed to discharge pollution, harass wildlife and transport its drilling fleet to the Chukchi Sea, it looks like the Obama administration wants Shell there as quickly as possible.
The irony of President Obama’s climate position is not lost on the American people. We have repeatedly been told about the unprecedented threat that climate change poses to the health and well-being of our environment and society. In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”
At the United Nations Climate Change Summit in October 2014, he said the urgent and growing threat of climate change will dramatically define this century and that the U.S. is stepping up and embracing our responsibility to combat it. On the contrary, he continues to let companies like Shell move forward with destructive fossil fuel projects.
The question every American should be asking right now is: “President Obama, are you a climate champion or a climate hypocrite?”
If Shell’s more than $7 billion gamble leads to the discovery of recoverable oil and gas deposits, the earliest production could begin is between 2025 and 2030. By 2025, however, the U.S. has agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels. Despoiling the pristine Arctic to increase oil and gas production at a time when we need to be reducing emissions makes no logical sense.
If President Obama earnestly wants to use his remaining term in office to combat climate change, his choice regarding oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean should be easy. If Shell continues to get its way, we are faced with a very bleak future:
- Unpredictable sea ice conditions and storms lead to accidents for Shell’s drilling fleet, where emergency responses are limited due their location 70 miles from shore and nearly 1,000 miles from the nearest Coast Guard base.
- A 75 percent chance of a large oil spill that Arctic conditions make extremely difficult and nearly impossible to contain or clean up.
- A number of iconic marine animal species, including threatened and endangered species like the Pacific walrus and polar bear, are harassed during Shell’s drilling operations.
- Subsistence hunters are unable to access or hunt the animals that are of vital importance to their culture.
- Climate change is exacerbated as the extraction and burning of Arctic oil and gas releases an estimated 15.8 billion tons of carbon emissions. As a result, reductions in sea ice continue to reach record levels and coastal erosion forces several Alaska Native villages to permanently relocate.
But this does not have to be the new reality for the American Arctic Ocean. President Obama has one last opportunity to stop this reckless and short-sighted project. He can deny Shell’s revised application to allow for deeper drilling of oil and gas deposits and protect the people and wildlife that depend on a vibrant Chukchi Sea environment from a toxic legacy that will surely last decades.
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 13, 2015
If President Obama takes a stand, billions of gallons of oil will be left in the ground, and an important message sent to Big Oil: the oil and gas deposits contained under the American Arctic Ocean belong to the American people and will be managed in their best interest, not the interest of growing Big Oil’s profits. The legitimacy of U.S. leadership as head of the Arctic Council will be strengthened and President Obama will be poised to start a needed discussion about curtailing fossil fuel extraction going into the United Nations climate talks in Paris this winter.
The American Arctic Ocean is a sensitive, ecologically-rich, and unforgiving environment, making it one of the worst places to drill but one of the best places to stand up and say “No!” to Big Oil. President Obama should be held responsible for his deeds and not his words. He can no longer hide behind his climate legacy rhetoric while giving Shell access to Arctic oil and gas without being called a climate hypocrite. The American people, the Arctic Ocean and our climate future expect and deserve better.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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